Did you not see it coming? Were you gobsmacked when your boss called you in to her office one Friday afternoon to let you know you were being pink-slipped? Did you walk out of the building in a daze as you held a small box with your personal items? Did your spouse or parents open their mouths wide in shock when you told them you’d been axed and say the words you’d been saying to yourself all afternoon: “How could this have happened!? What a surprise!!”
What a surprise indeed.
Very few layoffs happen in a vacuum. Truly: very few. There almost always are signs, indications of a pending reduction in force (known in the biz as a RIF) at your employer. Here are a few of them, below.
Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.
Businesses lay off employees for many different reasons. Among them are financial issues, mergers/acquisitions, loss of market share, weak earnings for more than one quarter, simple cost-cutting measures, etc.
The easy-to-see signs in such cases (corporate issues) include:
- Your employer puts a freeze on spending. Not a freeze on hiring – not yet – but projects that a month ago were on the docket are postponed, capital improvements are delayed, etc. Business travel is curtailed and/or you’re asked to travel coach rather than business class.
- Perks start disappearing. No more Free Lunch Fridays. Business trips have you staying overnight at The Sleep Inn, not the Hilton.
- If there’s a big financial crisis – a merger/acquisition, stock sell-off, or your company’s latest and biggest product falls absolutely flat – start firing up your idling professional network and revamp that resume. And pronto!
You could call these signs of impending continued-employment doom “macro” signs because they tend to be of a company-wide sort. There also are signs of a “micro” ilk: they are smaller and are more subtle in their clue-giving.
- Your boss is often too busy to meet with you. For several weeks.
- You’re not receiving the plum assignments anymore. In fact, your workload may even lighten.
- You’re not asked to attend key meetings anymore.
- You’re moved to an entirely new position. One you didn’t ask for. You don’t receive a pay cut, but there’s no raise either. Extra “goodbye to you” points if the position is lower on the org chart.
- You’re put on probation for performance issues.
- You’re asked to take a pay cut. This could be a company- or department-wide request, if it’s more of a macro-issue for the entire department/company. Regardless, if this happens to you it’s time to start looking for a new employer…yesterday.
It’s the Economy, Bucko
Recessions, come and go, come and go, come and go. It’s the absolute way of things. Just because it’s a definite candidate market today doesn’t mean a recession doesn’t arrive in year or two. Because recessions are inevitable. And with them come layoffs: many employers lay off many hard-working, talented people. Since a recession is coming (someday, and possibly soon), we wrote recently on how to help yourself become recession-proof.
Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been let go recently, contact the recruiters at Helpmates, as we can help your find a new job and/or help you keep money coming in while you look. We look forward to hearing from you.