7 clues you're about to be fired — and what you can do about it | Ladders

While it’s not always a great idea to trust your gut about every single work issue, here's when it may be worth wondering if your job's in danger.
Office Life

7 clues you’re about to be fired — and what you can do about it

If you’re feeling that Monday morning dread every day of the week — you may be onto something. While it’s not always a great idea to trust your gut about every single work issue, here’s when it may be worth wondering if your job’s in danger.

1. You’re not that busy

Ryan Naylor, Founder of LocalWork.com, offered a few hints to keep an eye out for if you think you might be fired for performance reasons: “You might notice that you aren’t getting handed as many projects as you were before. Something might have happened, or maybe there was a series of events that caused these concerns to arise.”

2. You’re given loads of days off

Believe it or not, sometimes good things disguise really crummy things. If your boss is thinking about firing you, it’s entirely possible you’ll suddenly find yourself with a lot of vacation days. “Maybe they readily grant you days off so they don’t have to face you as they plan for your termination,” Naylor said.

3. They’re cooling off

If your boss or manager sense that you’ll soon be on the way out, you may suddenly find yourself “Being excluded from important department meetings that you are customarily included in,” according to Scott Samuels of Horizon Hospitality. You might be receiving fewer lunch invitations or group emails, and Naylor says “There could be a lack of eye contact and a disconnection that feels dismissive.”

4. Your company is downsizing

“If you think the company is downsizing and your position may be eliminated, look for worried managers, a lot of executive meetings and listen for break room rumors,” Naylor says.

Ask yourself if what your department produces is still in need, or whether there’s a slow-down in demand for your services in general. And while you’re at it, Naylor says, think about whether your department is “bloated during a time of financial distress for the company.”

If any of these signs ring true, Naylor says you have to consider the tough fact that you may be let go. “There isn’t much you can do if downsizing is imminent,” he says. What you should do though, is start planning. “Your layoff may include a severance package, but this doesn’t mean you should take a vacation,” Naylor says. “The longer you are unemployed, the less appealing you will be to recruiters and hiring managers.”

5. They’re playing the field

Samuels said a sure sign you’re about to be fired is finding a listing on an internet job board of your job (or one that’s really similar) posted by your company. Even worse though, is when you find a posting of your job in your city listed as “confidential.”

6. There’s a new kid in town

Samuels said a sure sign you’re probably going to be fired is when “other individuals start becoming overly involved in your department and/or with your responsibilities,” specifically ones they’d never been previously involved in.

7. You’re on probation

Finding out that you’ve been put on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) by your direct supervisor and given a specific time frame to correct deficiencies, is never a great sign, according to Samuels.

What you can do

So, should you give up entirely and hand in your resignation? Not just yet.

Be proactive: As painful as it feels, Samuels said you should “be proactive in sitting down with your immediate supervisor and discussing/resolving issues that could result in termination.”

Step up your game: Samuels also advises putting in extra time and hours to “go above and beyond to show your commitment to the company.

Consult with HR: If at all possible, Samuels thinks it’s a good idea to “Sit down with your Human Resource Manager/Director and advise them about your observations. Ask them if there is anything that you need to be concerned about. Be tactful and careful when doing this so you don’t come across as being overly paranoid.”

Make nice: Naylor says: “If you want to keep your job, there are some things you can do. The fact that you weren’t fired out of hand might mean that they are hesitating, considering whether you are still a value-add. Show them that you are. Apologize for the incidents that led to this precarious position you are in. Show humility. Offer to show them improvement over a specific period of time. Be specific and, once again, be humble.”

Get moving: And if the inevitable is just around the corner, start planning now. Naylor says: “Your layoff may include a severance package, but this doesn’t mean you should take a vacation. The longer you are unemployed, the less appealing you will be to recruiters and hiring managers.”

Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.

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