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Are You At Risk of Getting Fired? Seven Signs Your Job is On the Line

Oct 29, 2009 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Think your job is secure? The ground you stand on may not be as solid as you think. In today’s economic climate, companies are looking for any way they can to save money—and that includes eliminating staffmembers who aren’t pulling their weight.  Even if you haven’t had a major screw-up or continually get good reviews, your job could be at risk.

Here are a few signs it’s time to start a new job search:

Your company just went through a serious transition

If your company has been merged or sold recently, it’s likely a lot of people—possibly people on both sides—are going to get fired as the new parent company eliminates redundancies.  New management always means new plans for the company, and those new plans often eliminate whole departments. If your company just went through a big upheaval such as a merger or sale, it’s definitely time to update your resume.

Out Of Work


People are giving you feedback in writing

Maybe your boss used to give you a quick phone call, stop by your cubicle, or chat with you in a hallway to make sure your projects are on track. Now he’s sending everything by email memo. There’s a reason for that—in some positions, Human Resources requires documentation of screw-ups before someone is terminated. It could be that “feedback” is being sent as concrete documentation of your performance—it could be used as justification for firing you if needed.

You’re not informed. Whether it’s major projects in your department or changes in the company, you’re not being informed like you used to. If you find you’re finding out about major company changes from the guys who work in the mail room, that’s probably a big sign that your job is in danger.

There’s a new emphasis on cost cutting

Has your company suddenly started nickel-and-diming your department for everything, including the brand of pencils you buy?  It’s normal for companies to try to cut costs, but if they’re slashing even the most routine expenses down to the bone, it’s a bad sign. If you find you can no longer get toilet paper for the bathroom or a new supply of ballpoint pens, be warned—they may start looking at your job next.

There’s a hiring freeze

Maybe your department has been severely understaffed for some time—but your company refuses to discuss bringing more people on. A hiring freeze is the first step; next they may decide to cut staffmembers. Even if your company hasn’t formally announced that they’re in a hiring freeze, they may not be posting new positions—keep an eye on the number of positions the company advertises internally and on external job sites. If it’s gone rapidly down lately, that’s a bad sign.

You’re being given impossible tasks

Are you suddenly being assigned projects with no chance of success? If so, it may be that your superiors need a reason to fire you—a project that’s gone demonstrably south. You may also be assigned to dead-end tasks that have nothing to do with your department, or you may suddenly have trouble getting approval for your existing projects when you never had this type of problem before. All of these are signs that your company is thinking of giving you a pink slip.

You’re being de-promoted

This may not always be as it appears. Maybe you’ve been recently “promoted”—but it’s to a position with less responsibility. Or maybe you haven’t been explicitly promoted or de-promoted, but you’ve been transferred from an office to a cubicle—or from your existing cubicle to a smaller one. If this is the case, it’s definitely not a good sign for your job.

The warning signs that you’re about to be fired can be subtle. There may be signs that the company you work for is in serious financial trouble and a round of layoffs is imminent—or that your job in particular is in danger, whether it’s due to something you did or whether you’ve been a model employee. Learn to read the signs, and hopefully you’ll be more prepared for a firing.

How To Keep Your Job -


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