6 Warning Signs You Could Lose Your Job
Losing a job in a bad market Getting a pink slip in today's job market is like being evicted from your home in a hurricane. The horrific head winds facing job seekers today will make finding shelter with a new employer all the harder.
Not only is unemployment still stuck above 9 percent, it's also lasting longer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of unemployment has skyrocketed to 40.3 weeks in August this year compared to 17.7 weeks in August 2008.
The difficult labor market isn't lost on Americans. In The Conference Board's most recent Consumer Confidence Index, 44.1 percent of Americans said jobs are "hard to get," while only 5.1 percent said they were "plentiful."
In Bankrate's August Financial Security Index poll, nearly a third of Americans said they felt less secure in their job than a year ago.
"Companies right now are going as lean and mean as they can," says Linda Rolie, author of "Getting Back to Work: Everything You Need to Bounce Back and Get a Job After a Layoff." "They have absolutely stripped out all the fluff. Anything that's not totally pushing the coal or creating revenue or finding significant value for the company is getting stripped down."
While it's not always possible to know when you're about to be laid off or fired, here are some telltale signs that can help you prepare for, and possibly head off, a job loss.
Company has financial troubles If your employer is struggling financially, it's a safe bet staff cutbacks aren't far behind, Rolie says.
Layoffs are especially likely when employers' costs are heavily weighted toward human resources, because that's where they have room to cut costs.
"Employers have significantly different amounts of their total expense that are comprised of labor costs," says Steve Kane, managing director of HumanResourcesExpert.com and retired human resources executive. "If 70 percent or 80 percent of their costs are related to staffing and things aren't going too well, they don't have a lot of choice."
How to fight back: Acquiring a diverse set of skills and performing a variety of different roles at your company can keep the target off your back when it's time to make cutbacks, Rolie says.
"If it's between two equally qualified employees, it comes down to who's more likable and getting along with others or doing some of those extra chores, duties or technological components that others don't want to do," Rolie says. "Look for ways to strategically snatch up a couple of niches that you enjoy and are good at."
A merger or acquisition occurs Mergers and acquisitions involving your company don't augur well for job security, Rolie says.
"There (are) just so many duplicate positions. There (are) only so many (human resources) people a company needs (for example)," Rolie says.
That's because they typically create redundancies on the payroll, with two or more people fulfilling essentially the same role at both companies having to compete for that role within the new organization created by the merger or acquisition.
Typically, that's a battle won by whoever works for the company that came out on top in the merger or was the acquirer rather than the acquisition, she says.
Middle management is especially susceptible to cutbacks resulting from mergers and acquisitions because managers often perform similar duties and can be easily consolidated.
How to fight back: If your company is being absorbed or reorganized, one of the most important things to learn about new managers is how they measure employee performance, Kane says.
"However the employer defines performance in your particular role is the key," he says. "You have to count performance the way your employer wants to count it, not the way you think it ought to be counted."
Doing that successfully can help you stand out to new bosses and keep your place in the company, he says.
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