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Learn The Warning Signs Of Potential Job Loss


By: Louise Garver

Shock. Surprise. Bewilderment. Denial. Confusion. Paralysis. Anger. Depression.

The words represent just a few of the emotions you may feel when you lose your job. Even though others may know your fate, you're not likely to hear about it. Or, if the handwriting is on the wall about your department's elimination, the news may not actually sink in because we have an amazing ability to disregard unpleasant facts. We define ourselves and others by the jobs we hold no matter what our level. Any change is likely to be threatening since our real fear is economic. How will we and our families survive?

So, what do you do to protect yourself? How do you stay alert without worrying yourself to distraction? What precautions should you take? There are warning signals to watch for, signs that indicate your job is not secure. Understanding the warning signs lets you assume a degree of control over your future - especially in situations where you have an option to save your job.

Empower Yourself: Recognize the Danger Signs

1. You hate your job.

Job dissatisfaction is the most critical danger signal because it is so widespread. According to surveys, the majority of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. However, many people fail to realize its connection to job loss. If you feel that negative about your job and do nothing to remedy the situation, you may very well be terminated.

Dissatisfaction and unhappiness are difficult to mask indefinitely. Even if you do, the result may wreak havoc on your health. Something has to give and will. If you decide to stay put because you're convinced there isn't a better job out there for - especially in a tight market - someone else may make the decision for you.

Solution: Assess your feelings about your job. Write them down as a way to help you organize and analyze the information. Be specific and pinpoint the likes and dislikes of your current situation - your responsibilities, the skills you are/aren't using, the people, the company and its culture and so forth. Invest the time and effort. Your answers can be the beginning of your new game plan whether you stay or leave the company.

2. You're ignored.

Have people at work stopped communicating with you - supervisors, peers or subordinates? Have you isolated your self for whatever reasons? Have people pulled away from you or stopped coming to you for help? Are your opinions no longer being sought? Are you no longer invited to meetings or selected for special projects/task forces?

If so, your job is in danger. Remember the old high school coach cliché: "Don't worry when I'm yelling at you. Worry when I'm not yelling at you."

3. You're getting negative feedback.

If your performance appraisals are under par, your alarm should go off. If you're not meeting goals and expectations, you run the risk of losing your job. Strive to listen carefully to the difficult comments about your performance - not just the positive remarks - even though they may be tough to accept. No matter how likeable you are; don't assume you'd never be fired. It's a risk you don't want to take.

On the flip side, scoring top marks in every or nearly every category doesn't always indicate your job is safe. Appraisals are not necessarily reliable indicators at some companies, and some supervisors avoid confronting performance issues. However, when the crunch comes and cuts have to be made, reality strikes when your boss is asked to produce the same output with fewer people.

4. Poor economic health of your industry/company.

A harsh reality of today's workplace is that good performance does not guarantee job security. Keep abreast of general economic news and its potential affect on your job. Tune in to internal sources of information in your company as well as within your industry. Make information gathering part of your professional life. If you hear rumors of downsizing, they are often true.

Don't ignore the obvious indicators such as declining sales, drop in market share or the fact that a highly invested new product isn't selling as expected. If you take the economic pulse of your company and industry regularly, you won't be caught off guard.

5. You're not producing.

Increasing productivity and gaining competitive advantage are top priorities at every corporation today. If your company is having a banner year, but you're not directly producing, your job may be in jeopardy. Companies demand more from employees than ever before and anyone who is not contributing is considered replaceable. The climate of continual staff reductions continues with depressing frequency.

Tip: Keep a record - at home - of your daily or weekly activities that verify your personal productivity. Explain how your efforts benefited your department or organization. Quantify wherever applicable in terms of time, dollars saved, customer service satisfaction, goals achieved and so on. It's a useful tool to document your contributions and present the information at your performance reviews.

6. You fail to achieve goals.

It's not enough to be productive, you also have to produce effectively and efficiently. To fortify your role in the company you must understand the priorities, manage your time well and accomplish the tasks you were hired to do by deadline - not just any activities that make you look busy. The number of hours you actually work isn't as important to your boss as the results you deliver.

Ask yourself: Do I know and understand what's really expected of me? Jot down work-related activities that demonstrate you understand and are meeting target goals. Is there anything that interferes with getting your job completed and in a timely manner? What can you do about it?
7. You resist change.

Do you find yourself saying: "We've never done it that way before." or "It won't work." or "I wish we could just go back to the way things were." Sound familiar? You run the risk of losing your meal ticket if you don't continue growing and changing to meet your employer's needs. In the global economy that we live in today, change is the operative word in organizations - from corporate shake-ups in management teams to business unit reorganizations and more.

Failing to change doesn't mean that you are a failure. You may be completely accurate in your assessment that the new initiative won't work. However, being right won't lead to job security. You can choose to be part of your organization's change wave or you can find another more suitable organizational culture. If you stay, you must be willing to change with your company.

About The Author

Louise Garver, CMP, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP, MCDP, has assisted senior executives and management clients worldwide in all aspects of job search, interviewing and negotiations, development of resume and marketing letters, career transition and career management since 1985. President of Career Directions, LLC, she is an award-winning, published and certified career coach, professional resume writer, outplacement consultant and former corporate recruiter. For help in winning the career your deserve, visit http://www.resumeimpact.com.

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