Career Guide

Are You Being Laid Off? Signs That Indicate Your Office Days May Be Numbered

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[Part I of IV]

When I interview employees within an organization that has announced staff reductions, I consistently hear that the worst part is waiting to hear who’s staying and who’s going.  The waiting is difficult, however, there are ways to tell if you might receive a pink slip.

Here are five signals that indicate you should be prepared for a move:

  1. You’re not very busy.  If you’ve lost an account or your department budget has been slashed, you may be vulnerable.  These days, no organizations can afford to keep paying staff that aren’t in demand.
  2. Your clients aren’t happy campers.  If your account has been put for review, chances are you might be too.
  3. You haven’t spoken to your boss lately.  In fact, it seems she’s avoiding you.  The next worst thing to being laid off is being the one to announce the bad news.  If your boss is consistently unavailable to you, it may be a sign that she’s facing an uncomfortable decision or discussion.
  4. Your department’s services aren’t central to your company’s business.  When hard decisions have to be made about who goes and who stays, those who are critical to the company’s core business are most likely to keep their jobs.  If you’re in a department that provides services to internal clients but not to those paying the bills, there’s always the risk that your job might be outsourced.
  5. Your boss seems on her way out.  If your boss is on edge, seems uninterested in the business or is clearly interviewing outside the company, it’s time to assess the security of your own position.

For concrete suggestions about what you can do to avoid a lay-off, see Part II of this series.

By Jenny Schade, president, JRS Consulting. JRS Consulting helps organizations dramatically increase attraction among customers and employees. Jenny Schade has interviewed more than 1,000 employees while guiding organizations through turbulent change. Get more tips from the free JRS newsletter.

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Jenny Schade


  • Personally I’ve not had those signs appearing and work has been increasing lately so I should be safe. But some friends of mine who have been laid off have not been as lucky. Thinking back on what they told me, yes some of the above did apply to their situations. It wasn’t pretty, but I told them to look for new opportunities instead of focusing on the negatives and things they could not control.

  • Brandon, your friends are fortunate to have received your good counsel. You’re correct that it’s wise to focus on new opportunities rather than on things that are out of one’s control.

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