4 Signs You’re About To Get Fired & What To Do About It


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn and was featured in their Careers: The Next Level channel. It has received more than 260,000 views and over 400 comments. If you’re interested, you can join in the conversation here. The original post was also discussed in the BBC Capital column Are you about to be sacked?

4 Signs That You’re About To Get Fired

  • You find your job advertised online
  • Your boss asks you to write standard operating procedures for everything you do
  • Your day-to-day tasks slowly start getting reassigned to other people (or you’re asked to train others on how to do them ‘just in case’)
  • You’re not being invited to meetings that you used to be included in

What You Should Do About It

Schedule time on your boss’s calendar to speak with him or her. If they ask what the meeting is about, say that you are seeking guidance about an issue that is better addressed face to face than electronically. You don’t want to give your boss time to prepare for this conversation. You’re more likely to receive candid answers this way. If your boss has the ability to prepare for this discussion then you will probably receive canned, HR approved answers.

Once in the meeting with your boss: State that you are seeing signs that people typically associate with getting fired and that you would like your boss to clarify the situation for you. Now be quiet. Let silence be your weapon. If you’re anything like me, this will be the hardest part. But it will be well worth it. Just sit there and wait for their response. Be prepared for one of three of answers:

  • You’re getting fired. They may give you a timeframe, or they could ask you to leave on the spot. If they do give you a timeframe and you want to stay, ask if it’s a performance related issue. If it is, try to negotiate being put on a performance improvement plan.
  • You may not be getting fired. The company is advertising because they hear that you are looking for employment elsewhere, or because they feel like your workload is too much for one person and they want to add another member to the team. Keep in mind that your boss may or may not be telling the truth.
  • You’re probably not getting fired. The department is pipelining because they plan on promoting you but want to have your successor lined up first. Could this also be a fib? That’s a pretty bold-faced lie if it is, and it could carry legal ramifications in some states.

No matter what your boss’s answer is, take the time to think before you reply. Make sure that your response is honest. If the company is firing you, do not say something that will burn this bridge. You should leverage this moment to ask your boss if he or she will be a positive reference for you during your job search. This is also a good time to lay the groundwork for future severance package negotiations.

robin-guidry-headshotRobin Guidry is a résumé writer, Douglas Adams fan, and corporate recruiter in the cutthroat computer software and IS&T industries. If you’re looking for a new job, or know somebody who is, Robin can help you with that, too. Visit www.talentcounseling.com to learn more.

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