As the UK labour market remains weak and job cuts are still on the agenda of many companies, workers of all sectors are on the alert -- anyone is afraid they could be the next to be made redundant.
Most people who are let go say in retrospect they should have seen it coming. While there are no sure signs of professional apocalypse, there are a few clues your job may be in peril. Watch for these signs to find out if your days at work are numbered before anyone is telling you the news.
1. Times are tough at your company.
This may be one of the main reasons your job could be in danger: The industry you are working in could be badly affected by the global economic crisis and this again can hit your company hard. The first money-saving measure in difficult times as these is a personnel cut. If your job function is not essential, you might be one of the first for the chop.
2. You're not being kept informed.
Have you seen your whole team walking out of the conference room after a meeting you were not informed of? Have you become the last to know anything and everything that is going on in your office? In the workplace, knowledge is power. Your company's act of keeping information from you and keeping you in the dark might be one way of preparing for life without you.
3. You are losing responsibilities.
Has your workload become a lot lighter in recent weeks while your colleagues seem to be taking on more? Is your input suddenly not needed in planning sessions for next year's budget? If your projects and past responsibilities have been passed on to others, it is another good sign that the team is making sure your work gets done once you are out the door.
4. Your job title has been changed, and it's not an upward move.
If you have received a new job title or new job description, pay attention to the differences. Is the new job a lateral move? Have you been demoted? The way you want to be moving in an organisation is up -- not sideways or down.
5. You are suddenly being supervised very closely.
If you have always had a great deal of autonomy in the past and are now being scrutinised at every turn, there might be a serious reason behind this new form of management. Whether you feel you need your hand held or not, new scrutiny in the workplace can sometimes mean less confidence in your abilities.
6. You and your boss are not getting along.
Corporate management will swear it's not personal, yet many downsizings are actually ways to get rid of unpopular or "black-listed" employees. Performance is a subjective judgment and managers are more likely to get rid of people they don't like.
7. You have received one or more negative reviews.
Good companies try to help employees recognise and understand ways in which they need to improve. If you have received a performance review that is negative, you need to make some changes. Just as bad, if you've had stellar reviews in the past and suddenly you are no longer regarded as a star performer, watch out!
8. The company is "reorganising."
Mergers, acquisitions and restructuring can all be good for business, but bad for employees. Is your company merging with another that has employees who do the same job as you? Pay attention to what you hear in the grapevine regarding the future of the business -- it can also have a dramatic effect on your future.
9. You just haven't been performing.
When it comes down to brass tacks, you know your performance better than anyone. If your heart just has not been in your job lately, your superiors probably have taken notice. Think about it -- if you were the boss, would you fire you? If so, you might want to start making plans for your exit strategy.
10. You're hearing rumours.
If you're hearing rumors of your demise, take heed: Where there's smoke, there's fire! At one point or another we're all vulnerable to the proverbial corporate ax. Don't live in denial.
If you feel you might be next, it is time for you to take action. You are the most attractive to a potential employer when you are still employed.