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4 Signs You Might Soon Be Out of a Job

By Maurie Backman – Apr 7, 2018 at 11:03AM

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Are you about to get the ax? Here are the warning signals.

Job security is the one thing most workers want, yet many struggle to achieve it. If you've been getting a bad feeling about your standing at work, you could be overly paranoid. Or, your instincts could be serving you well by alerting you to the fact that a firing or layoff may be in your future. Here are a few signs that could indicate the end of your tenure at your company.

1. Your performance reviews haven't been great

Some companies conduct performance reviews quarterly. Others perform them annually. Either way, if your past few reviews have been overwhelmingly negative, it's a sign that you could be on your way out. This is especially true if your manager keeps highlighting the same shortcomings over and over again, and it's clear that you haven't managed to address them.

Man sitting on steps holding a piece of paper, with a box of desk supplies next to him

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Your boss only has negative things to say

Some managers are tougher than others, and if yours has no problem voicing concerns, you're likely to get your share of criticism day in, day out. But if negative feedback is all you're getting, and your boss never seems to have anything positive to say about your work, then it could be that your manager has just plain grown frustrated with your performance. If so, then you shouldn't be surprised to face the chopping block soon enough.

3. Your colleagues are dropping all around you

Sometimes the writing is right there on the wall. If you've noticed that a large number of co-workers have been laid off or fired over the past few months, then there's a good chance you could be next. Of course, this isn't a given, especially if you have a unique skill that makes you particularly valuable. Whether you want to stay on board in the face of all that upheaval, however, is a different story.

4. You're losing -- not gaining -- responsibilities

Promotions aren't always easy to come by. If your company has a limited number of higher-level positions, for example, then it could take quite some time for you to climb the ranks. That said, your list of responsibilities should increase continuously at work, even if your job title remains the same. If that stops, then it could be a sign that you're on your way out. Furthermore, be wary if your manager starts taking away responsibilities, especially for no apparent or valid reason. It could mean that your company is preparing for your departure, and an involuntary one at that.

If you're worried about losing your job, there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk, assuming your company isn't downsizing. (If it is, you may not have the same control over the situation, unfortunately.) For one thing, have a positive attitude. Don't gripe about projects with pressing deadlines, and embrace challenges rather than run from them.

Next, take a look at your previous performance reviews and aim to improve on your manager's feedback. If you've been dinged in the past for not being thorough, proofread every report you submit to ensure that it's error-free.

Finally, aim to carve out a unique position that makes you hard to replace. If you're one of several database administrators, you'll have a hard time making the case that the company can't function without you. But if you boost your skills so you're able to create a proprietary software system that your company comes to depend on, that's a completely different story.

Of course, in some cases, you might lose your job despite your best efforts. In that case, don't beat yourself up. Diligent, responsible employees sometimes wind up losing their jobs. But with any luck, your strong skill set and solid experience will land you a new position soon enough.

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