Have you ever experienced that anxious, sinking feeling that the job you thought was so perfect perhaps isn’t working out after all?
If the discomfort stems from your end alone, you likely have the time and freedom to search for a better fit. If your employer, on the other hand, is the dissatisfied one, you may not have control over when or how your stint in that position will come to a close. Job security certainly isn't a guarantee, especially if you aren't remaining relevant in your field and others prove more knowledgeable, skilled, or reliable. While you may not be able to reverse a plan to eliminate you already in motion, you certainly can soften the shock by staying alert and watching for these five signs of your forthcoming firing.
1. The conversation you just had with your manager was documented to you in an email.
Say you just had a tense conversation with your manager about your recent performance. You leave her office with a sigh of relief, thinking that you know exactly what to do moving forward, and you can erase that uncomfortable one-on-one from your mind. Later that day, though, your manager follows up with an email outlining what you two had discussed. Warning! The meeting summary isn’t a kind gesture; rather, it is very deliberate documentation intended for your file.
In order to cover their backs and provide substantial evidence, your company’s higher-ups will be sure to pave your trail to the exit with plenty of paper proof of your downfall. Instead of panicking, use the email content as your guide to making improvements and put your all into salvaging your job.
2. Your manager is following up with you on items faster than you can reasonably accomplish them.
Remember the tough conversation you just had with your manager? Instead of decompressing by the water cooler, get cracking on those items you and she discussed. Her calling a meeting with you has signaled your probation, which means she will now be checking in more frequently to keep you in line.
So, review the topics covered and choose the most pressing items as your absolute must-dos to begin working on immediately. When you manager inevitably follows up with you later in the day, she will be looking for significant progress on those items. Feeling overwhelmed or that the expectations are unreasonable are surefire signs that you might not be suited for the position.
3. Responsibilities or assignments are being pulled from you.
The newest hire approaches your desk, and you snatch a sticky note to jot down your coffee order. It turns out that she isn’t making a Starbucks run, but she does, in fact, inform you that your boss just asked her to take the lead on the project you had been put in charge of. Your cheeks burning, you frantically search for the project file and hand it to her without making eye contact.
Did your manager decide that this project is beneath you and is clearing your agenda for more important items? Perhaps your manager is setting you up for greater opportunities; yet, it's more likely that the lightening of your load has the opposite meaning. If your assignments are being siphoned off to other employees, you can assume that your boss does not think you are equipped to handle the responsibilities of those roles successfully.
4. You’re not invited to certain meetings.
As you scroll through Instagram to ease your way into the post-lunch routine, you notice that members of your team are heading to the conference room. Your heart skips a beat when you pull up your calendar and don’t see anything scheduled. Did your team forget to invite you? Maybe they’re planning a surprise party for you?
If your team is meeting without you, they’re probably working on a project with a deadline that outlives your tenure. Your manager has already determined your expiration date, and while your coworkers likely aren’t aware of why, they have been instructed to leave you out. Not being included is a strong indication that you are no longer integral and on your way out.
5. Someone with the same title with more experience has been hired.
You arrive Monday morning to find your manager escorting a new face around the office and making introductions. Finally, another person to help out the department! Word quickly spreads that she has quite the impressive résumé, and when you get ahold of her business card, you discover that she has the same title as you. Did your boss realize that you have too much on your plate and hire someone to share the burden?
Unfortunately, companies rarely are in such solid financial standing that positions can be added without making cuts. The most subtle and, let’s be honest, downright offensive signs that your gig is ending is someone being brought on who shares your title but has more experience (and, of course, more pay) than you. This low blow is your company’s way of saying that the current structure isn’t working, and you are, in part at least, the reason why. It’s not personal — it’s business.
Taking note of these subtle cues will help you start dusting off that resume sooner rather than later. But hopefully instead, you’ll see the writing on the wall and kick it into high gear.
Allie Hofer, a self-proclaimed career matchmaker and work-life balance enthusiast, is a Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Society of Human Resource Management - Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), and Recruiter Academy Certified Recruiter (RACR). After having her first child, she opted out of the traditional office setting to work from home. Since then, she has been consulting with organizations in the public and private sectors to support the Human Resources function in recruiting, compensation, training and development, and performance management.
She started Office Hours with the belief that instead of creating resources and companies to help women return to work, we should help them find flexible opportunities so they never have to leave.