9 Signs You're About To Get Fired

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By Ian Harrison for

When you wake up to the sound of your alarm and prepare to face another day on the job, do you dread the idea, feel good about it or are you somewhere in between? If you crawl into a fetal position and pray for an excuse to stay home, you may have a problem with job security.

For the most part, we know deep down inside when our time is up. You can deny, deny, deny, but if you were smart enough to get the job in the first place, you should be able to spot a potential pink slip headed in your direction. We have nine signs you're about to get fired here, and if you recognize one, you could be on the street soon. Just hope you read the sign in time to reverse your fate.


1- No longer part of the loop

You used to be in on the latest scoop, whether it was or social in nature. When Jason down the hall had an affair with the new administrative assistant, you were one of the first to hear about it. Now the water cooler or cappuccino machine is deserted when you approach.

Because of your position within the company, you should have access to crucial financial information. That used to be the case. Last year you knew about a pessimistic sales forecast from executive management before most did. But things have changed, and you have reason to be concerned about potential cuts. Now you seldom communicate with executive management, except to offer a lame compliment or make an effort at pleasant banter. If you're no longer in the loop, it may be because you're about to get fired.


2- You have been told to "take a vacation"

There is no way to put a positive spin on the phrase. The implication is that you have not lived up to your job description and have become expendable. This is not the "take a vacation" you hear after a month of overtime punishment you endured in order to complete a project. This is not the "take a vacation" you hear at the end of the fiscal year when you have yet to take time off and a company policy is in place that you must do so. This is the "take a vacation" you hear from an exasperated boss who would prefer not to have you around the office.


3- You need an attitude adjustment

On more than one occasion, the suggestion has been made that you could use a personality transplant. You thought the comment was a joke but you have begun to notice how people recoil when you open your mouth.

For some reason, you either insert your foot into your mouth or say the first thing on your mind. Your best friend or brother may appreciate your lack of tact but at work, the stunt has yet to fly. In fact, your ship is about to sink unless you apply for a sensitivity seminar fast.


4- You made a major mistake

This is the real world, not a cartoon. When Homer Simpson is accountable for the meltdown of the nuclear power plant, Mr. Burns does not can him. The incident is somehow comical. The hilarity of television however, does not translate into your career.

Incompetence may be rewarded in the world of Dilbert , but when you screw up, you could lose your job. So rather than dismiss your blatant error as a minor slip in the shadow of the AIG and Lehman Brothers collapse, think again. Executive management may not agree and if you recognize another sign on the list, your mistake could combine to cause your removal.


5- New blood has taken over

You arrive at work one day to discover that half of your department has been replaced with a hotshot MBA from Stanford. Ouch. The new employee is quick to impress and has a real Midas touch.

No matter what you do, you fail to win support or positive feedback from management. Your relationship with the MBA is icy and his rapport with the team is weak. Your VP, however, is in love with him. Not good. That ring you hear in the background could be your death knell.


6- Bad fit with corporate culture

Some firms are famous or infamous for their corporate culture. When you were hired, you were elated to have a job and forgot to distinguish between the two. The human resources manager asked whether your personality fit with the corporate culture and you glazed over and faked a response.

Now you realize that, with the entire department and company, you stand out like a nun at a rave. You knew you were an individual at heart who was averse and paranoid about group indoctrination. When a corporate slogan is shouted at a conference, you cringe. You were "sick" for the team retreat and refuse to engage in shameless promotion of your company. Bad sign for you.


7- Your company is on CNBC

A good sign under normal circumstances, but we live in the era of monumental corporate collapse. If you hear a layoff rumor or hint of a financial indiscretion on the part of executive management, run for your life. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

The same advice is germane in the event of a takeover, corporate merger or personnel shuffle. You could get lost in it and find yourself without a job.


8- New management

In the same vein is a change at the top. You may have been a star before but now the slate is clean. New management has been given a directive to shake it up and stir the pot. Like a new football coach to guide a dormant team to the Super Bowl, they want to wake up the talent and trim the fat. Where do you factor in?


9- Bad review & boss has an eye on you

Taken another way, a review could be a positive step in your career development. Not when the focus is negative however. From your boss' breath on your neck to the regular scrutiny, his attention is unwanted. You can sense that your future in the company is being evaluated and there is no escape. The fact of the matter is that if you were a prized commodity, you would never be put under the microscope.

Worse yet is a negative review, for the sheer permanence factor alone. A formal corporate review process is the one chance you have to quantify your hard effort and overtime. Or lack thereof. You will reap what you sow and a chicken will come home to roost. You get the point. The chaff has to be separated from the wheat in business. Improve your performance and become an asset to your firm now.


get to work

Now that you have "seen the sign," it's time to take action fast because your job may be at risk. If you sit idle and await your fate like a cow in an abattoir, you will get cut.


Next: Can Your Personality Get You Fired? >>

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