12 Alarming Layoff Indications You Must Stay Cautious Of

12 alarming signs you're about to get a layoff


What the heck is going on in today’s job market? Because layoff spree among companies has become so common that every time you turn on the news or log into Linkedin, another major corporation is announcing a layoff, and it’s obvious to say that people out there are wondering whether or not their name will be the next.

So, in this article, we’ll discuss a few signs that you’re about to get a layoff. This article would be focusing on you as the individual, that is, if your company is going to conduct a layoff of 10 to 15% of its workforce or potentially even more it’s not necessarily guaranteed that your name is going to be on that list. So here we’ll focus on why your name might get added to that list and you might get that pink slip

As we exited the pandemic, the pendulum swung fiercely to the other side and as we came out of the pandemic employers ramped up their hiring and we swung firmly to the other side and it’s been a very employee-driven market for about the last 18 months to two years. 

However, there is some trouble that’s been brewing on the horizon and you again can’t log into Linkedin without seeing all these major layoffs being announced, it does get some people wondering whether or not their name is going to be called next for a potential layoff or workforce reduction. If you’re not thinking about it, maybe now it’s time to start putting some thought into whether or not you’re vulnerable and if you should be taking some action to protect yourself from a potential layoff. 

Signs that you're about to get a layoff 1-3

Your Company Is Going Through A Turmoil

The first reason your company considering a layoff could be that it is experiencing some turmoil. Now, turmoil could come in a lot of different shapes and formats, but specifically, if your company is experiencing an economic downturn for example, maybe the business that they are operating in isn’t quite as profitable or maybe they’ve lost a lot of customers or there’s been some major disruption to their business model. 

Let’s take Twitter for example. When Elon Musk came in, shook everything up and they went from being a viable business to potentially on the verge of bankruptcy almost immediately. Obviously, that’s a drastic example but if you’re an industry that is vulnerable to changing market conditions you should be paying close attention to that. 

Let’s take housing as another example. Where the market for housing has gone through the roof and then with rising interest rates suddenly the market kind of is going off a cliff. If you’re in a company that supports the housing industry, you might wanna pay close attention to what your business is doing. Once demand falls to the floor companies are going to be looking for cost-cutting measures and that’s a surefire sign that if you’re working in one of those industries, you should be really very careful about what your next steps would be.

Your Job Isn’t Mission-Critical

Now, taking that a step further, if work in a company that is particularly at risk and you work in a job type that is not mission-critical, you should also be paying close attention to what your company is doing. Look for those red flags and those warning signs and start to prepare yourself in the event that they look at your department or your role specifically. Generally speaking, if you’re in a non-revenue generating role, it could be potentially at risk. 

Now, let’s take recruiting for example. Recruiting is always the last to get hired and the first to get fired. That’s because they don’t necessarily drive revenue. So, the more mission-critical your role is the less susceptible you’ll be to a potential layoff or a workforce reduction move. Alternatively, a role that doesn’t necessarily affect revenue generation is going to be looked at with more scrutiny. 

So, if you’re in a department that doesn’t add enough value to the bottom line of the business, you should be paying close attention to that. 

Your Department Doesn’t Add Value

How do we know that our department adds value? Well, the simple question is does your department generate revenue? And if so, how much revenue do they generate? Is it a significant portion of the business sales? If it’s a smaller portion of the business is sales and it’s not particularly profitable revenue, then you might be susceptible to a potential layoff. Because as companies start to scale back on the cost they start to look at non-mission critical roles, departments, products, and services and they decide how they strategically want to focus their business.

For example, if you’re working on a new product that hasn’t gotten to market yet, you ought to be very cautious about whether or not you want to expose yourself to additional risk by going out and buying new cars and getting new mortgages but instead, doing things like learning how to write my resume and keeping my networks nice and fresh.

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Your Work Has Been Cut

Another way to tell that your department is adding value is whether or not the work has been cut. If your work is still being carried on in a difficult economic climate then it’s probably a good indicator that your company values what your department does and hopefully, you’re in a role inside of that department that is also mission-critical because there are certain jobs where suddenly the department of work all comes to a screeching halt, there’s a hiring freeze and employees are just patiently waiting for what’s next.

Typically during this time, they may put you on some value-adding projects to try to keep you busy so that they can see where the market is heading and unfortunately if the market is not heading anywhere positive, that might be an indicator that they’re going to pull the plug and your position could be eliminated. 

Skills Aren’t Differentiated

If they look at your department specifically, they’re going to be looking at people whose skills are differentiated, unique, and hard to replace. So if you look at your current skill set and you measure it against your coworker and even more broadly against the market, in general, that should give you a good litmus test for how valuable you are to the department.

Companies will be more reluctant to a layoff of removing somebody who has a very difficult skill set to replace on the open market so if you’re in a job type and you realize that your skills maybe aren’t up to snuff, I would be actively working to try to upskill and make sure you have the most current marketable skills.

You’re More Expensive

Now, taking that a step further, if you’re gaping on some skills compared to your coworker and you’re more expensive than the others, you could be certain that your name is going to get circled on a spreadsheet. Because that’s what companies will do as they’ll look at who is adding the most value or alternatively who is adding the least value for the amount of money that they’re spending and then they’ll determine how critical is that role and

Unfortunately, if you don’t pass that litmus test gets added to a spreadsheet, and those people on the spreadsheet, are usually the ones who get the pink slip so if you’re somebody that has negotiated a really nice pay increase for yourself over the last 18 months, just make sure that your skills are the most current and the most cutting edge in your department and your contribution matches or reflects how much you’re getting paid. 

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You’re Excluded From Meetings

Another good indicator that you might be on that dreaded spreadsheet is if you’re no longer invited to meetings you once were. Suddenly, if you’re pulled off of some projects or you’re no longer invited to some mission-critical meetings that you’re a key component in, you can look at that as a sign that you’re either being replaced or being eliminated.

That’s important to note because just because you got pulled out of the project does not automatically mean that you’re going to get laid off, it’s just an indicator. 

Your Work Is Redistributed

But generally speaking, when you’re being prepared to be downsized, your boss will be looking at the kind of work that you were involved with and starting to put contingency plans in place whether it is consolidating projects moving somebody else from a different department or different part of your department into your role or potentially even stepping in themselves to take on your responsibilities 

That could be potentially them setting themselves up to live without you in that role. Now, if it’s just a project that’s one thing but if all of your work is suddenly being redistributed and you’re being asked to train other people or potentially write standard operating procedures for work that you do on a daily basis, that might be a huge red flag that you’re being prepared to be replaced. 

Or worse they could be determining whether or not your position is actually needed. 

Now, I’m in a meeting with the bobs in office space comes to mind when I think about this but essentially you may be asked to justify why you’re there so if you’re meeting with your boss’s superior and they’re being asked pointed questions about what you do during your day-to-day that’s a huge red flag that you’re being prepared to be downsized. 

If it is a project it’s one thing but if it’s multiple projects or potentially a larger part of your work buyer beware.

Others Can Do Your Work

This is where it’s especially true if there are others in your department who can do your work or you’re asked to train somebody else to do your work. 

So, if you work in a department with a lot of people who do similar type of work to you and you’re the most expensive or maybe you’re not outputting enough, then you could be looked at as somebody that’s replaceable ending up a spreadsheet and somebody else in your department could be taking over your job 

Now, the person who is taking over your job is probably not going to be super thrilled about it but it is what it is and that’s what happens in big businesses

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Your Performance Is Lacking

The next major warning sign that you should be looking for is whether or not your performance is lacking and you should know pretty well whether or not your performance is up to par in your department most of us in our day-to-day job is measured by some sort of metric or certain measurable output and you can usually tell how you’re doing based on your measurement against that metric.

There is the thing called KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and those key performance indicators are a good litmus test for whether or not you’re keeping pace with the rest of the department in fact managers will tend to look at KPIs across their broader organization and start to encircle people who are trending lower than the rest of the group.

Those are usually the people who’ll get the pink slip when there comes a time for a layoff. So if you want to stay off that dreaded spreadsheet make sure that your KPIs, your performance, and your output are well above the bar 

Another thing to look at in the performance context is, how your most recent performance appraisals go.

If you’re somebody that’s on the lower end of the performance spectrum, you just got a barely meets expectations, or even worse somebody that doesn’t meet expectations you should be really cautious about whether or not your name is going to end up on that spreadsheet because that’s generally the people that they’ll look at first as poor performers.

Now, I’m going to make a blanket statement here and say not all people who get laid off are poor performers but those are generally people who are included in that group of people who get laid off. 

So if you know that your performance numbers aren’t up to snuff or the numbers that are being reported are not accurate, you need to be very chirpy about that everybody who needs to know, knows that your numbers are not accurate and keep your own spreadsheet and track your own data and send it over to them as part of your justification for why the numbers aren’t meeting expectations. Because once your name is added to that spreadsheet and you’re put on that termination list it’s really too late to go and try to justify your numbers. It’s better to do that upfront and make sure you stay on top of it.

And if you’re struggling with your performance, it’s highly recommended that you have regular one-on-one syncs with your boss so that you can try to understand where you sit and what you need to do to improve it to make sure that you’re irreplaceable.

You’ve Scaled Back

So that leads us to the next red flag, that is, you’re somebody that has potentially scaled back your work to do the bare minimum and I know there’s this whole thing about quite quitting out there and it’s very charged and people are very passionate about doing what they’re paid to do and I totally agree with that.

However, this is talking to the person who has scaled back to the bare minimum. I’m talking about the person who just wiggles a mouse and is doing just enough to barely not get noticed and let’s face it. Your boss probably knows that you’ve scaled back to doing next to nothing because they’re looking at KPIs and KPIs are the numbers that don’t lie. 

So, if suddenly your numbers have come down from the top position and the rest of your team is in the middle of somewhere your name is going to get circled and you probably know what your performance output is. 

So, if you’re someone that is strategically scaled back because of a variety of reasons, nobody’s here to judge you for it but just know that you might want to choose your timing carefully because as companies start to layoff they are looking for people who are not driving the value. 

So, my suggestion would be to bring your performance up to at least the average of the group if not above average during this period of time of economic uncertainty, and if you can differentiate yourself with some of those unique skills and abilities that make you harder to replace, even better. 

You Lack Visibility

And the last major sign that I would like to cover in this article is if you’re somebody that doesn’t have a good visible relationship with not only your boss but also with your boss’s superiors. If you’re somebody that’s a wallflower who doesn’t participate in meetings and nobody seems to really know who you are because you keep to yourself, you’re particularly introverted, now might be the time to come out of your domain a little bit and get more well known and potentially even look at skip level meetings so meet with your boss’s superiors. 

Try to get involved in some projects so that your name is more visible, the more visible your name is to your boss and his superiors, the less likely it is that you’ll end up on a spreadsheet and a number as part of a layoff because you’ll be a known commodity rather than just a name on a spreadsheet when those tough decisions get made it’s a better chance for you to avoid having your name on that list. 


We know that this kind of information is difficult to hear and especially at a time when a lot of people are experiencing layoffs. But it is better to be prepared than to be caught off guard and scrambling in the event that you have an adverse employment decision happen against you. So, you should be taking the necessary precautions in order to stay one step ahead and make sure that know how to write a solid resume and keep your resume up-to-date.

3 thoughts on “12 Alarming Layoff Indications You Must Stay Cautious Of

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