It can be disheartening to lose a job, particularly when you did nothing to cause it and could do nothing to prevent it. It makes you feel incredibly powerless over a very important part of your life. Unfortunately, in some situations it is unavoidable: budgets are cut, decisions are made, and companies are shut down. The only thing that you can really do is predict it and prepare for it. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
Your company hasn’t been meeting established goals. Sure, anyone can have a bad month, but if your company is consistently failing to meet its targets, it may be an indication of deeper problems.
You have heard in the news that the labour market conditions are not good in your industry. It is a sad fact that employees are often the last to know when there are problems in the company. Take it upon yourself to keep informed. Research the labour market conditions for your particular industry and pay attention to the news. If your research is telling you that there is a problem, but your employer is telling you that there’s not, consider which one is a more objective source.
Other people have lost their jobs. If other people have been let go, there could be more to follow. Your employer may have decided to eliminate a certain percentage of the salary costs, or a decision may have been made to make wide cuts in a particular department. Once the pink slips start going out, keep your eyes and ears open. However, don’t let yourself get paranoid; it could be a unique situation limited to one or a few specific employees.
A lot of people in high positions have been leaving. Higher level managers often have a clearer view of the bigger picture, which allows them to see potential problems before everyone else does. If a lot of the executives are leaving the organization, you may ask yourself, “What do they know that I don’t?”.
Something doesn’t feel right. You should never discount your intuition as it allows you to detect subtle messages that your conscious mind does not receive. You may not be able to explain it, but sometimes you just have a feeling that things are not going well. It could be based on the fact that you’ve noticed a lot of hushed meetings lately, or perhaps it is because you’ve seen people around the office who you’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s because the managers and directors seem incredibly stressed, or maybe it’s not based on anything specific and it’s just a feeling. Often after the sudden closure of a company, employees report that they did know that something was wrong, even if they couldn’t specifically explain how they knew.
Once you’ve decided that your company is in trouble, what should you do? The best approach is to keep your options open. You may want to update your resume, and possibly your skills. If and when you do lose your job, you want to be able to jump into your job search immediately.
(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo from: mrpuen/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)