Owner | Career Consultant | Coach
The shocked feeling you have when you are let go from a job is awful. I won’t sugar-coat it for you. It sucks! It’s a feeling of dread and fear for the future. I know. I’ve been there before. Your thoughts are racing. How am I going to pay my rent this month? How am I going to pay my car note? How am I going to tell my wife? What will my kids think of me?
After the shock wears off, then it becomes anger, resentment, and bitterness. You might even be mad at yourself for not seeing the writing on the wall. You were too busy to notice what others saw way before you. And now you’re behind the figurative eight ball. You need to find a job…and fast. Except, it’s never fast. Not when you really need it to be.
But, dear reader, we’re going to help you today. We’re going to tell you about the seven biggest signs you should dust off your resume and get it sparkling again. Because you’re going to need it soon.
1) Your Company is Going Through a Merger or Acquisition
Nothing quite compares to the experience of a merger/acquisition. Leadership present it as an exciting opportunity and a chance for the business to grow, which it is. But as an employee, it can also mean your role or your team could suddenly become redundant.
Mergers and acquisitions are becoming more and more common in today’s economy. For publicly traded companies that are looking to grow quickly, the quickest route is buying out a competitor. The added benefit of reducing overall cost for both entities is also quite enticing. They can potentially double their output at half the cost.
If you are in this situation, even if you are a top-performer, your job is not secure until all the dust has settled. It’s better for you update your resume and make sure that it is presenting you in the best light possible and then start networking to see what other opportunities are out there for you before you’re told that you, too, are redundant.
2) Your Team or Department Has a New Manager
In my experience, what often happens when a new manager comes in is that he or she brings in trusted and loyal past employees and associates. They want people they know and trust when they come into a new environment. They want allies.
To them, you are the other. The person they don’t know yet. You might be able to prove yourself to this person, but that’s not guaranteed. You could have been your last boss’ right hand man, but now you’re at the same level as everyone else in your new boss’ eyes.
Anything can trip you up at this point. Your personalities might not click. You may mess up on something, that even though it’s not typical of your overall performance as an employee at ABC Inc., is one of the first impressions you make on the new person in charge. If you’re not particularly into office politics, you might even be outmaneuvered by someone else on your team who cozied up quicker than you.
In this scenario, you may want to see what happens first. You don’t want to jump overboard from a sturdy ship. But it’s always prudent to get ready for significant changes within the team. As soon as your new manager’s intentions are known, you’ll know what to do and be ready. Do as the Boy Scouts do, always be prepared.
3) Your Company Isn’t Performing Like It Used To
Obviously, when a company starts to lose money, changes must be made to right their course. At the end of the day, employees are a means to an end. No one is irreplaceable. You probably deserve your salary, but suddenly, when their backs are against the wall, it puts a target on you. If your role in the company is more overhead cost than revenue generating, you might also be in a tenuous position.
Whether your job is in jeopardy today or not, you should probably start looking around for something else. If the trend continues, the whole business may end operations suddenly, leaving you in the lurch before you were ready to go. It’s not easy to tell if a turn-around is on its way or not. Typically, however, the story happens like this: decline is very slow at first and then it happens very rapidly. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed if things quickly change. You want to be passively in the job market long before all your co-workers become competitors for the same job.
4) Your Company Starts Outsourcing
Outsourcing is a way of reducing labor costs. Businesses contract with another company, often from another country to provide goods or services at a lower cost than if they made the product or provided the service in the U.S.
When something like this happens in your company, even if you’re unaffected right away, it’s a sign you shouldn’t rely on things staying this way forever. In a global economy, the benefits of outsourcing are undeniable. Businesses, whose goal is to stay competitive and profitable, often turn to this strategy, especially for those roles which are not customer facing.
Which is why you should prepare for what could happen and not hope for the best.
5) Your Company’s New Focus is Cutting Costs
Even when a business doesn’t announce major changes like a merger/acquisition, new management, poor stock performance, or outsourcing some of its functions, it doesn’t mean that something isn’t afoot. All businesses look for ways to cut their costs, but when this becomes a huge focus for the business, it means something is happening that only the people at the top are aware of for now, and they are trying to avert a crisis before it becomes a crisis.
So, when you start getting emailed memos about ways to save energy, or you now have to get a key to get something from the supply cabinet, or your plans to go somewhere for training get canceled, or any other example of cost saving measures become implemented, start observing. By themselves, they may be nothing, but if you start seeing a trend, it’s smoke. And where there’s smoke, there’s usually a fire. Don’t get caught in the fire!
6) Key Players are Leaving
I always find it interesting that whenever a major negative change happens, there are usually several key players in the company who quietly make their way for the exit doors a month or two before. These are people who attend the important meetings. They know that “winter is coming.”
Again, if it’s one person, it’s probably nothing, but if you hear about several of these key people leaving, your ears should perk up. Start looking for any other signs. More importantly, you should start trying to find your own escape route before winter arrives.
7) You Received Your First Bad Review
Written warnings and bad reviews are sometimes things you can overcome by buckling down. That’s the supposed intention of them anyway. Manager’s and HR always babble on about how they simply want you to perform better. But sometimes, while they say this, what they really mean is that they’d prefer you just leave before they have to kick you to the curb. At this point, they are simply putting their ducks in a row to justify your termination.
Bad reviews don’t always mean that you’re bad at your job. Sometimes it’s more of a personality issue than anything. For one reason or another, you’re not a good fit.
You can try to salvage things, but often you’re better off saving yourself the stress. It’s going to be an uphill battle turning around your relationship with your boss. Start getting very active in your job search immediately and try to find something that fits you better. It’s amazing how many times a negative situation like this can turn into a positive result.
As the old song from the 60’s went, “breaking up is hard to do.” Losing a job is a hard pill to swallow. For a lot of us, our job defines us. When we lose that job, it’s as if we lost part of our identity. Should we be this way? No. But unfortunately, it’s the way we're wired. The hack to this is to not make the company part of your identity. This way, you don’t have to be so darn loyal and you can start thinking about what’s best for you first. Don’t go down with the ship. Find the nearest lifeboat and get on!
If you feel like you might need some assistance on your resume or any other career need, sign up for an appointment with us today! We offer a free initial consultation to all our new clients.