Are You Getting Fired? Warning Signs & Plan of Action

This comprehensive, recruiter-backed guide helps you identify warning signs that you might be getting fired and provides a clear action plan for how to land back on your feet.

5 months ago   •   9 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
Table of contents

If you're reading this article, chances are you're feeling... uneasy about your job situation. Possibly even downright panicked.

You might’ve noticed changes in how your boss treats you, or maybe you just have a gut feeling that things aren't right.

The good news? You're not alone. Many people find themselves wondering, “am I getting fired?” especially with changes that have affected even “safe” sectors like tech recently.

There are a few warning signs of getting fired you need to watch out for:

  1. Back to back poor performance reviews
  2. Getting assigned less work
  3. Seeing a posting for your job on LinkedIn or another site

If you think your boss is about to let you go, it’s time to go on the offensive. Look for a job before you need to, because it’s always easier to find a job when you already have one.

In 2024, job security is a significant concern for many of us. Industries are evolving rapidly with technological advancements and economic shifts mean that the future feels uncertain. Understanding the signs of impending termination and knowing how to proactively address concerns and prepare for the worst is an essential skill if you want to make sure you keep the money coming in.

In this article, we’ll talk about the warning signs of getting fired. Even better, we’ll give you a comprehensive plan for what to do if you suspect you are about to get a pink slip.

Key signs from a recruiter you are getting fired and what you can do about it
Key signs from a recruiter you are getting fired and what you can do about it

Let’s start by walking through how to know if you’re getting fired:

How to know if you’re getting fired

If you're wondering, "Am I getting fired?" you need to know the warning signs. Here are some subtle (but significant) clues:

Back-to-back poor performance reviews

It’s okay to miss goals now and then, but having two bad performance reviews in a row is a red flag for the future of your job. If you receive back-to-back negative performance reviews, something is wrong. These aren't just feedback, they’re a warning.

When this happens, it's critical to talk with your manager. Ask for clear guidance on how to improve and set measurable goals. This can sometimes turn the situation around. At the same time, you need to start putting together a plan of action for what happens if you do lose your job (more on that later in this article).

Reduced workload and change in responsibilities

If you’re suddenly (and without explanation) getting less work assigned to you, that’s a sign you’re on your way out. If this is happening, it's wise to start updating your resume and discreetly exploring new job opportunities.

A similar, but more subtle, sign you’re about to get fired is an unasked-for change in your job responsibilities— especially if it involves a move to tasks that require less brain power. It’s not less work, per se, but it’s less “important” work. This could mean you’re about to be phased out.

In either case, making your own moves now can help you land on your feet when changes come your way. You can brush up your resume using our free resume checker here.

Similar job posting on LinkedIn

Finding a job listing on LinkedIn that sounds like exactly like your position is scary.

It's even worse if the listing asks for skills or experience that you don’t have.

No way around it: this could mean your company is trying to replace you.

In this situation, you have two options: initiate a conversation with your HR department about your job security or intensify your job search efforts. And, in case you’re wondering— there’s no rule saying you can’t do both!

Salary or budget cuts

If your company is struggling financially, there’s always a chance that your job could be in danger. It’s not fun to hear, but it’s true— companies can’t always afford to keep even their best people.

Beyond that, having your salary cut or receiving less budget for your projects can signal that the higher ups are questioning your value to the organization. If you’re worried about this, make sure you clarify these changes with your manager or the finance department so you understand the reasons behind them.

Exclusion from meetings or projects (that you’d usually be involved in)

If you’re left out of important meetings or projects, especially those where you’ve played a significant role, this could indicate a shift in your standing within the company. This can be one of the subtle signs you're about to get fired.

In this case, it's important to speak with your manager. Understanding the rationale behind these decisions can give you clues about your future within the organization.

Increase in micromanagement

Some bosses are just micromanagers by nature. If your boss is, you don’t necessarily need to be concerned about losing your job— unless there’s a change.

If your manager starts scrutinizing your work more than usual, it could mean there’s been a loss of trust or that they’re building a case for your dismissal. Similarly, if you’re asked to account for your work in a more detailed way than normal, this might mean that your boss is planning on firing you.

To prepare, it's vital to keep your own record of your achievements and the quality of your work. This will provide a solid foundation for discussions, helping you to address any concerns and demonstrate your ongoing value to the team. Depending on the other factors at play, it may not be enough to save your job, but it will give you something to work with (and may help if you’re afraid your rights as an employee are about to be violated).

Vague or non-constructive feedback

On the flip side of micromanaging, if your manager gives you increasingly vague feedback or stops giving you constructive guidance, that’s a red flag.

Note, we’re talking about a change here. Some managers just give vague feedback all the time, which is a bummer but not an immediate cause for concern. However, they’re becoming more apathetic toward you, this may mean they aren’t invested in your growth with the company.

How to counteract this? Pay attention to the quality of feedback you receive. If it’s vague, ask questions until you get specific and actionable feedback on your performance, and use this information to improve.

Change in manager's attitude

It might feel like we’re repeating ourselves at this point, but any noticeable shift in your manager's behavior towards you (reduced communication, adopting a more critical tone, interfering with your work more often, etc.) could indicate potential trouble.

Before you freak out, though, it's important to figure out if this change is directed at you or if they’re doing the same thing to everyone. It might not be a “you” problem. They might be having a tough time in their personal life, or might be getting a lot of pressure from their bosses to perform.

If you don’t know what’s motivating the change, there’s no need to assume you’re going to get fired tomorrow— but you may want to be prepared for it down the line, just in case.

Colleagues distance themselves

Another subtle sign you’re about to get fired is a change in how your colleagues interact with you. If they're suddenly keeping their distance, it could be a sign they know something you don’t.

If this is your situation, try to engage in open, honest conversations with your coworkers. This can help you understand if there's a broader issue at play or if the whole thing is a misunderstanding.

Receiving less information

Being kept out of the loop on important updates or decisions that affect your work might mean you're being edged out.

This situation calls for a proactive approach. Seek out information actively and clarify your role in ongoing projects to ensure you remain in the loop. Being proactive about this can sometimes reverse the situation, demonstrating your commitment to the company and your willingness to work through issues. Even if it doesn’t, doing your best to stay in the loop will help you figure out what’s really going on.

Your intuition says something is off

If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, it's worth paying attention to. Your senses sometimes pick up on changes (like an atmosphere of anxiety or discomfort) that your brain hasn’t fully registered. Such feelings can often be a precursor to realizing “I think I might get fired tomorrow” — or, at least, soon.

When your gut tells you something is off, discuss your concerns with a trusted colleague or mentor to gain an outside perspective. Another set of eyes can help you see the situation clearly and decide on your next steps.

How Should You Prepare If You Think You're Getting Fired?

If you're wondering, "Am I getting fired?" you need a plan for what to do if the answer is yes.

Here are some of our best recommendations:

Start the job hunt early

It’s always easier to find a job when you’re currently employed: employers love it, and there’s less pressure on you financially. So, start your job hunt as early as possible.

In other words: if you see any warning signs that you’re going to get fired, it’s time to start looking. If it turns out that you’re not going to get fired, great! You’ve done some research and know what you’re worth in the job market.

But, if it turns out you’re right, you’ll be happy that you got a head start.

Here’s how you can get started today:

  1. Update your resume with your most recent achievements and skills. (Score my resume can help you make sure it’s the best it can be with an instant, expert review of your resume!)
  2. Expand your professional network by connecting with industry contacts, attending events, and enhancing your LinkedIn profile. (LinkedIn Review can help optimize your online presence so you show up in searches for better job opportunities and networking potential)
  3. Start applying for jobs that align with your career goals, even before you receive a termination notice. (If you're tailoring your resume for specific job descriptions, our AI-powered Targeted Resume tool is your new bff— it’ll make sure you hit all the right keywords and skills)

Remember: it’s better to be prepared (read: start a job hunt now) if you think you might possibly get fired, than to wait. The time you spend now prepping your resume, networking, and preparing in other ways will help you stress less if your boss does fire you.

So let’s talk about the other things that should be in your plan of action:

Start networking (if you haven’t already)

Networking is a key component of proactive job searching. A robust network can open doors to unadvertised positions and provide crucial support during your job search.

Attend industry meetups, join professional groups, and participate in online forums related to your field.

If you’re trying to keep your job hunt on the down-low, these in-person events can be the perfect place to expand your network without attracting your employer’s attention. At the events, make sure to engage with people, share your insights, and build meaningful connections.

Save money

If you haven’t already, start budgeting, reduce unnecessary expenses, and build an emergency fund. Having extra money set aside will make it easier if you get fired before you can find your next job.

Grow professionally

Finding a new job is an opportunity for a fresh start. Use this time as an opportunity to grow all you can. You can even decide whether you want to continue in your current field or try something new.

If you've been considering a career shift, now might be the perfect time to invest in training.

Upskill or retrain in areas that align with your aspirations. Attend workshops, webinars, and courses to enhance your skills and qualifications. You got this!

Start a side gig

Side gigs can provide additional income and, in some cases, might become full-time opportunities.

You can monetize your skills or hobbies by using platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, or start working for existing connections. It's important to manage your time efficiently to balance these side jobs with your main employment, but it’s great to have back-up income that you enjoy.

Build your personal brand

In today's competitive job market, having a strong personal brand can enhance your marketability and even open up new career paths. Building one is a good way to prepare if you're worried about getting fired.

Here are some steps to building a strong personal brand:

  1. Identify your unique professional strengths and how they align with the needs of your industry.
  2. Create a consistent message across all your professional platforms, including LinkedIn, your personal website, and any industry forums.
  3. Share your expertise through blogs, webinars, or social media posts to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
  4. Network effectively, both online and in person, to increase your visibility and professional connections.

Prepare emotionally

Losing your job can be emotionally taxing. It’s important to acknowledge this and take steps to stay positive.

Seek support from friends, family, or a professional counselor. Discussing your fears and concerns can provide relief and clarity.

At the same time, spend time doing activities that boost your mental health and resilience. This could include exercise, meditation, hobbies, or simply taking time to relax and unwind.

Know your rights

Finally, it's essential to know your legal rights in the workplace, especially if you suspect you might be about to get fired. Employment laws and contracts can have complex implications, which means your employer may not understand everything they are and aren’t allowed to do. So do yourself a favor and learn all you can.

Review your employment contract and company policies to understand your rights and obligations. Pay special attention to clauses related to termination, severance packages, and non-compete agreements.

If you need someone to help, consult with a labor attorney. They can help you wade through the legal language and understand your rights.

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