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Five Signs of a Potential Lay Off

The disappointing employment data for June 2011 [3] has served as a clear warning about the state of the labor market. The official unemployment rate increased to 9.2%, and only 18,000 net jobs were created (57,000 private sector jobs balanced against the loss of 39,000 government jobs). For medium to small businesses, hiring may not be attractive right now; indeed, there is a good chance that many businesses are still laying people off.

My dad, and everyone where he works, has been put on notice that lay offs are coming. This is a rather obvious sign that an organization is getting ready to get rid of people. The fact that they are announcing lay offs provides a chance for everyone to update their resumes and refresh their network contacts. But not all lay offs come as a big announcement. Here are five more subtle signs that you might soon join the ranks of the unemployed [4]:

1. You Don’t See Your Boss Much

One of the signs that a lay off could be coming is that your boss seems to disappear behind closed doors frequently. On top of that, he or she might seem to be avoiding you a bit. Some bosses are uncomfortable around those marked for job loss, and end up spending less time near them. If you have a normally cordial — perhaps even friendly — relationship with your boss, and you sense that things have changed, it’s probably time to consider transitioning to a new job.

2. Big, Long-Term Projects are Slashed

If major projects are put on hold, or if the focus is shifting to short-term projects, that could be an indication that lay offs are coming. Be especially wary if something you are working on is being put on hold. When a planned project is pushed back, moved to the side burner, or priorities are changed, it means a shake-up is coming — and you might be laid off. Time to start looking for a new job [5].

3. Others in Your Industry are Facing Problems

You should pay attention to what is happening in other areas of your industry. If other companies in your industry are experiencing cash flow problems, stock drops and lay off rumors, there is a good chance that your own company is facing those same problems. This can be disappointing, since it means that getting a similar job in another company in your industry is unlikely. It’s time to look at how your skills might translate to another career [6] altogether, and make a plan for a smoother career transition.

4. Cost Cutting

When a company starts cutting costs, you know that something’s up. Watch for signs of cash flow problems. This might include smaller office parties, fewer supplies, difficulty getting approval for spending on new equipment, and a cut back in work-related travel. The hiring of more contractors, freelancers or temps (these workers cost less since there are no benefits to pay) might also be an indication of impending lay offs.

5. You’re Training Someone Else

If you are asked to train someone else on your responsibilities, that could be a red flag. You might be asked to help a temp or freelancer learn about what you do, or you might be training a coworker. This might be a sign that your job is about to be outsourced, or that a (less expensive) coworker will soon be doing double duty.

(Photo: massdistraction [7])