With widespread, frequent layoffs finally abating, many people are now breathing a sigh of relief and assuming that the threat of layoff is no longer a significant one for them. Such an assumption, though, could easily prove to be a false—and disastrous!—one if they fail to correctly read the political/economic landscape at their current employer.
Here are SIX warning signs that your job may still be at risk, even in an economy that finally seems to be on the mend:
- The company isn’t making money and/or market share is stagnant or declining.
- Your co-workers have begun avoiding you or are far less friendly and forthcoming than they used to be.
- There is a lot of “whispering” going on in your company.
- Your boss has begun giving you negative (or even just less-than-positive) feedback on your job performance.
- You haven’t received a raise or promotion in . . . well, you really can’t remember the last time either of these things happened.
- Lots of “star performers” are headed for the exits in your company.
As you can readily see, there isn’t a whole lot you are going to be able to do to directly and immediately affect or alter most of these signs of possible pending doom. The only ones you can perhaps directly influence are numbers 4 and 5, and even that may be somewhat in doubt if all of the other signs are present.
So, what action(s) should you take if you find yourself employed by a company that exhibits some (or even all!) of these warning signs? Read on!
The Best Defense is a Good Offense!
If you are a football fan you’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying about the best defense being a good offense. And that is certainly true. The team that relies exclusively, or nearly exclusively, on its defense to prevent the opposing team from putting points on the board is usually destined to lose the game. To ultimately win the game the team must put some of its own points on the board! The same concept is equally true when it comes to your job.
Keeping your head down and hoping that somehow you will be able to retain your job in a company that obviously is headed for troubled waters is absolutely the worst position for you to take. You need to develop a good “offense,” if you haven’t already!
At an absolute minimum, here are FOUR steps that you should take, NOW—not tomorrow or next week but NOW!—to accomplish that goal:
- Make sure your résumé is current and up to date. Do NOT wait until the hammer falls on you to make this move, either. By then it may be far too late because it is always, always, always easier to get a new job when you already have one.
- If you haven’t already done so, start documenting the specific ways in which you have contributed (or are contributing) to the company in your current position. Focus on dollars and cents and percentages, wherever possible, e.g., “was part of a team that saved or earned the company X dollars,” etc., and be sure to include andhighlight these accomplishments in your résumé.
- Begin seriously investigating career opportunities in your area of professional expertise, but do so strictly “under the radar.” Do not confide in anyone at your current company because doing so could be tantamount to painting a target on your chest! Chances are, the company is looking for virtually any reason to terminate employees at this point. Don’t make it easy for them to select you!
- Contact a “headhunter” who specializes in your area of expertise. He or she maybe able to assist you in finding a new job. Keep in mind, however, that, if you should become unemployed, a “headhunter” usually will NOT be able to assist you! Why? Because companies will not pay a “headhunter” a fee to hire an unemployed person. That doesn’t mean the company won’t hire you, of course, it merely means they won’t hire you through a “headhunter.”
Am I suggesting that you should become paranoid if your current company is characterized by any or all of the warning signs featured in this post, or if you are now the recipient of negative vibes from your boss and fellow employees? Well, that could be one way of looking at it, but remember this: It is NOT being paranoid if someone really is out to get you! And in my professional experience, companies that are in trouble, for a whole variety of reasons, are indeed out to “get” someone. Someone like you. Or your best friend down in accounting. Or key members of your work team. Anyone.
Despite the fact that we’ve seen significant improvements in the job market in recent years, on any given Friday afternoon, right around closing time and without any prior warning whatsoever, you or one or more of your fellow workers could be told that you have 20 minutes to clear your desk and then be shown the door. Still happens each and every week of the year! Make sure you are not among those who may be blindsided in such a devastating manner!
This post is an excerpt from Career Stalled?, Skip’s latest book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development & Management publications.