Some layoffs and dismissals come completely without warning. And it's not unheard of for an employee to walk in the door at 9:00 anticipating a busy day of projects, and then walk out again at 10 with no job and nowhere to go.
But in a far more common scenario, employees who are about to be laid off encounter several signs along the way. If you're paying attention and staying tuned in to these warnings, you'll be better prepared when and if you need to find another job in a hurry. Here are four common signs of an impending job loss, and a few practical tips for each case.
1. Your work is drying up.
Six months ago you had so much on your plate that you could barely handle it all. But now there are long stretches of time between projects and your overflowing email inbox has been reduced to a quiet trickle.
If this happens, feel free to talk to your boss about the forecast for future projects, and let her know that you have the time and the bandwidth to take on more responsibility. Choose your words carefully; don't present yourself as bored or idle. Just make it clear that you're ready and able to tackle larger and more complex challenges.
2. Your boss isn't interested in your professional growth.
If your boss used to criticize and complain about your projects, and now she doesn't do this anymore, that's a troubling sign. If she stops coaching and encouraging you, that's even worse. And if she avoids conversations and can hardly make eye contact with you in the elevator, then it's time to start working on your resume immediately.
If you're genuinely anxious about the awkward state of this relationship, be bold and simply ask. Make an appointment to sit down with your boss and gather more information. If she has nothing to tell you—or avoids the meeting altogether—start mentally moving on from this company and making active plans for the future.
3. The company is less indulgent.
Your annual sales meeting used to be held in Palm Springs, where you celebrated the yearly numbers by drinking champagne in crystal glasses. This year the meeting is taking place at a local hotel in New Jersey, you were asked to provide your own transportation, and you're drinking punch from plastic cups.
Don't expect another blockbuster year from the sales department. And don't expect your bonus to be higher than it was last year. In fact, don't expect anything. Instead, start circulating your resume and updating your profile on LinkedIn.
4. You've been actively warned.
Some transitions come with clear and obvious signals. But others are couched in subtle terms and euphemisms that are easy to miss, especially if you've been a loyal employee for years and it's impossible to imagine that your company might let you go.
But tune in. If your boss calls a meeting and the point of his speech is hard to discern, listen to the tone and read between the lines. If the speech sounds like a warning, it's probably a warning.
Get Ready to Move on
No matter what happens to your struggling employer, you'll be able to bounce back if you travel light and carry the right tools. Explore the resources on MyPerfectResume. Then create a strong application, keep it close, and get ready to spring into action if you see signs of trouble ahead.