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Many employees are blindsided when they’re handed a pink slip, even though workplace conditions are ominous: layoffs have been on the rise or benefits have been deeply slashed. But often the signs of an imminent firing are subtle. Keep these five in mind.

  • The first is you’ve been stripped of responsibilities -- you have less work, or your projects look more like dead-end tasks. If your boss champions your work and promotes you, that’s great. But if your boss does neither, and your work is stagnating, take note. Increase your visibility by volunteering and showing your enthusiasm.
  • Has there been a change in your boss’ behavior? Is she less friendly, or has she started canceling your meetings? Ask how you can develop your job.
  • The third is you suddenly become the office pariah. You’re excluded from crucial decisions you previously had a say in. Invitations to meetings stop coming, or your co-workers avoid you. Your best response may be to start looking for a new job in your field.
  • You receive a poor performance review. This one isn’t so subtle. Many bosses need a paper trail to build a case before they fire someone. Consider the comments, and decide if they have merit. If you want to stay, make a conscious effort to fix what’s wrong.
  • And fifth, you see a job posting that matches your position. Many companies start looking for a replacement before they let someone go.

The bottom line is to be proactive if you notice any of these signs. Either use the information to improve your work, or update your resume.

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