If you’re concerned that a layoff may be in your future, here are some signs to look out for:
Big projects are being paused or scrapped. Whether it’s your project or that of another team, if your company is suddenly putting the brakes on major initiatives, it could mean that layoffs are imminent.
Your budget has been cut. It’s one thing if you’re being asked to be more mindful of project costs. But if your budget is suddenly slashed, it could indicate that your company is looking to make some unwanted changes.
Your responsibilities are being shifted to other employees. It could be that teams are changing, or that your boss is trying to free up your time to allow you to focus on new initiatives. But if it seems like you’re systematically being stripped of your usual tasks, it could mean that your position is on its way to being eliminated.
Your meeting calendar has suddenly lightened up. You used to dread all those weekly meetings, but suddenly your schedule is suspiciously wide open. It could be a sign that you’re on your way out.
You’re asked to write up a job description and/or train coworkers on what you do. It could be that your boss knows how much you do and wants backup in case you’re unexpectedly out sick or decide to go on vacation. But it could also signal an impending layoff.
Your manager is being distant and evasive. You used to be able to speak openly with your boss, but suddenly he or she can’t seem to look you in the eye or give you a straight answer about anything pertaining to scheduling or long-term projects. It could mean that your manager knows something you don’t (and feels bad about it too).
Of course, just because some — or all — of these things are happening at your workplace doesn’t mean you’re about to be let go. Budget cuts or halted projects, for example, could be a simple matter of shifting priorities within your organization. But if you’re worried about a layoff, take these steps:
• Provided that it’s legal to do so, save copies of company files or documents you’ve worked on so that you have a record of your accomplishments.
• Get personal contact information for colleagues with whom you’d like to stay in touch.
• Request a copy of your most recent performance review for your records.
• Update your resume so that it’s ready in case you need to start sending it out.
• Refresh your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. Yesterday.
Remember, getting laid off is by no means the same thing as getting fired. While it’s hard not to take it personally, if it does happen, try to leave on the best possible terms. You never know who might be willing to help you land a new job or serve as a reference, so be sure to exit gracefully and respectfully.