Early Warning Signs You're About to be Laid-Off

If you've been around for a while, the time will eventually come when a company you work for is in unfortunate shape and will need to "downsize."  Having witnessed this at a client of mine this week, I've noticed a pattern and a few warning signs you may find useful…

Here are several warning signs you're about to be laid-off.  If you've noticed more than perhaps one of these, your Spidey-Sense should be tingling—it's time to start polishing that resume/CV!

I.  Backups

"Have you backed-up all your work to XYZ?" 

Unless you're a sys-admin, this is probably the first time you've ever heard the company mention the word backup during your entire contract.  Variations on this theme: "let's get all outstanding code checked-in ASAP!"

Oddly enough, this will tend to make you happy when you hear it.  "It's about time they started taking this stuff seriously," you might think.

II. Training

"Please train your co-worker on X, we need everyone up to speed on these components."  Hard to argue with that, right?  *shrug*

IV.  Important Project or Person MIA

Just like the old Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, where the very existence of the main character is erased from history, a similar fate will happen to $BIG_PROJECT or important people.   Despite last month's "death-march" to hit an important milestone, no longer is anyone requesting status or asking questions about it.  "Hmm, things have become quiet around here," you'll ponder…  ((Cue crickets chirping))

III.  Mandatory Meeting

Subject: Moving Forward in $YEAR+1

Content-free meeting invitations or email focused on date periods, especially late-in the year (a nod to tax purposes).  "Let's discuss our plan for 2016."  **gulp**

That's my list for now, please chime in with any others you can think of.


  1. Being asked for a list of passwords to all the systems, especially when you are the only IT guy there :(

  2. Getting calendar invites with no details at midnight to all-hands meetings scheduled for first thing the next morning. :(

  3. When your company is not in the best financial shape and is suddenly sold to a very large conglomerate. Your division is "assured" that nobody will be let go.

  4. Other signs of poor economic health in the company: pay or hiring freezes, bonus cuts compared to prior years.

    Also, people in management you used to be friendly with adding distance.

  5. Also, observe larger patterns: before acquisitions, there's crazy hiring. Often company offers employees to purchase shares (sellout starting, eh?) at discount. Then acquisition happens and belts tighten and heads start to fly.