How to Tell You’re Going to Lose Your Job

Originally posted on Feb 17, 2009 on EmploymentCrossroads.

Getting the axe!In this economy, everyone is in a precarious position career-wise. But there are ways to tell if a firing or lay off looms on your horizon.

You don’t have enough work.

Symptoms: Your boss isn’t assigning you enough work to keep you busy all day. This could be because he or she doesn’t want to give you an assignment you won’t be around the finish. Or, maybe he or she no longer trusts you. Or the reasons could be innocent — maybe the whole company doesn’t have enough work. Perhaps your boss simply isn’t aware you have free time.

The cure: Don’t be afraid to go to your boss and ask for more work. Even if you really are on the short-list for a layoff, asking for more responsibility may change management’s mind. And if they won’t give you more work, it’s time to start updating that resume.

You’re out of the loop.

Symptoms: You used to get invited to all the good meetings. Your boss would stop by to chat. People asked for your opinion, and not just about whether last night’s Lost made any sense. Now, you’re not in the loop anymore. If you hear about important office issues, it’s through the rumor mill and not through official channels. You’re feeling isolated.

The cure: Again, go to your boss. Or if he or she won’t help, then your boss’ boss. Maybe there’s a good reason you’re out of the loop — to help give you more time to get your work done, for example. But simply asking to get back in the action may be enough to deal you back in.

Your boss gets fired, or quits.

Symptoms: One day you get to work, and your boss is gone. You’re assigned to a different supervisor (or if you’re very unlucky, multiple supervisors). But you’re still associated with your old boss, and to some people, this makes you expendable. And if they replace your superior with a new hire, he or she may wish to fill your position with someone of their choosing.

The cure: Communicate directly with your new supervisor. Don’t try to be “loyal” to your old boss — who does that help? Not your old boss, he or she is gone! Make sure your new boss knows you are on their team.

Your firm is recruiting to fill your position.

Symptoms: The company keeps bringing in people to fill a position suspiciously similar to yours. They may even ask you to interview the candidates! And if you’re skimming through craigslist and see your job up for grabs — well, how much evidence do you need?

The cure: Get out. Now.