Signs 6-10

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-04-03 Print this article Print

6. You See That They're Hiring for Your Exact Position

If your company was hiring another Software Architect at your level, don't you think you'd know it? So if you find a job listing that sounds alarmingly like your current position, it could be a sign that your company is arming itself with backup for when you're given the boot. Does this sound paranoid? Just ask all of the bitter people who may have unknowingly trained their replacement.

"Companies do this all the time. They have backup plans in case people leave, cross-training employees for other roles. While it's very nerve-wracking and paranoid, if you see it, you have to walk into your bosses office, 'I saw this ad. Is this my job?'" said Lanzalotto.


7. You've Been Promoted, but You Handle Less

Often called "kicked upstairs," these types of promotions are common when you've been with the company for some time, may not be unpopular and the company has to be careful how they exit you. Instead of firing you, you're given a fancy-sounding title that means little because the role is away from the company's central line of business.

"They're not doing a horrible job; you don't want the attendant employee morale issues that might come with firing them; you just don't want them in that role anymore," Pappalardo said.

"This doesn't happen in young companies much, but companies that are older where a lot of people have been promoted to their level of incompetence. There are certain positions that you can sort of slide people into that are career holding positions until they may retire or choose to do other things."

8. You're Unpopular at Work

Think it's no big deal that you and your boss don't get along? Think again. You're on the wrong side of that power relationship to have the last word. A manager can send an employee they don't like packing. If you don't have a lot of friends in the office, it can be even easier, as there will be no pushback from remaining employees if your position is cut first in a "downsizing."

"I think that when it comes to individual workers, there are reasons why individuals continue and not continue a job. But if you're going to let someone go because they're not well-loved, it shouldn't be coming out just when you're in a bad economic environment and need to make layoffs. It should have been aired out sooner and worked on," said Lanzalotto.

9. Your Company Has Been Sold

There are few better known harbingers of incoming walking papers than your company being acquired by another one. It's rare that the company doing the purchasing is interested in the human capital of a company-they're after the customers and the products. Just ask the 300 DoubleClick employees, who gained the title on April 2 of being the largest-ever group laid off from Google.

"There's a term of art by people who work in Silicon Valley: It sucks to be acquired by someone and it doubly sucks to be acquired by someone like Google or Microsoft. They're the smartest people on the block and they're rarely happy to see you," said Pappalardo.

10. You've Been Asked to Reapply for Your Job

One of the most classic corporate downsizing techniques is to force employees to reapply for the jobs they already have. Consultants are often called in to assess whether the worker is truly creating value for their company in their current roles, a thinly-veiled attempt to reduce headcount.

"It comes a lot of times when companies are in transition. Companies are trying to put themselves in neutral territory; they know they only have x slots left but y people. The message is: you may not be working here much longer and it automatically convinces people to change their jobs. They don't want to play musical chairs and the music stops and they have no job left," said Lanzalotto.



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