Get Clued into Layoff Warning Signs

Maybe you love your job so much you brush off hints that the company's wheels are starting to come off. Or maybe you despise your job enough that you pay no attention to anything other than getting through a full day. Maybe you don't think you have any reason to watch for signs you might be headed for a job loss. But maybe you should. Even if you're doing well and things seem peachy in the workplace, it's never a bad idea to pay attention to hints that your job may be in jeopardy. Stay one step ahead of a layoff by heeding these warning signs. Internal Problems: Things You Control Sometimes we ignore obvious signs that the other shoe is going to drop, attributing negative signals to a bad phase that will quickly pass. Unfortunately, ignoring these signs can threaten your job security. Watch out if:
  • You Got a Bad Review or a Warning. How was your last performance review? Did you get a decent raise? Were you given any warnings or put on probation for anything? It's a bad sign if nothing positive was said during your review.
  • Your Boss Looks over Your Shoulder. Has your boss recently put you on a short leash, when he used to trust you to work independently? Maybe he's been giving you subtle warnings that your work is not up to snuff even though you think otherwise, and he finally got tired of you missing his signals.
  • You Get the Cold Shoulder. Do colleagues you used to eat lunch or talk with avoid you lately? Do they skirt discussions about future projects? Are you being left out of meetings you used to be part of? Think there's a reason?
External Problems: Management Changes Beyond Your Control Keeping an eye on the company, its health and the ripple effects of high-level decisions can clue you into the true status of your job security. Be wary if:
  • You Get a New Boss. For five years, you worked in harmony with your boss, who was suddenly replaced by a rattlesnake. This is no time to be complacent; prep for a job search before you have to. Line up a reference from HR since the new boss probably won't give you a good one.
  • Management Makes Changes at the Top. The company's leader and figurehead suddenly disappears, and the entire mood of the company shifts. Long-time employees are heard grumbling and complaining about the new direction. This can actually help you. Ask yourself: How do I handle change? If you're averse to making a big move, you'll probably hate the new procedures that go along with the transition to a new leader. On the other hand, how will you handle the changes associated with getting a new job? Will you find those challenges any easier? Weigh the consequences of both scenarios.
  • There Are Rumors of Restructuring or Layoffs. Sometimes rumors carry a grain of truth. If there is talk about restructuring the office, be prepared. If you don't do a full-out job search, at least dust off your resume so if you're cut, you'll have that chore out of the way.
  • New Hires Don't Fit the Mold. Sometimes a new colleague is hired who can do no wrong with all of the managers but treats you and other employees like dirt. If you've complained and documented your gripes but management doesn't confront the bad apple, you must assess what this person is doing to your outlook on work. Sometimes morale can get so low that there's no choice but to leave.
Overall, it's important to know the difference between something that truly threatens your job security and something that may actually turn out to be a bad week or month.
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