7 Warning Signs You’re about to Get Fired

A young, sad businessman holding a cactus and packing his belongings in a cardboard box
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Getting fired from your job can be a stressful experience.

Aside from the fact that you suddenly find yourself without an income, it can significantly affect your sense of self-worth, as well as leave you with something of a stain on your record when looking for a new role.

In short, it’s not a position that you ideally want to end up in.

Therefore, being able to spot the warning signs that you’re about to be dispensed with is important. If you realise what is coming while you’re still employed, then that gives you a chance to either change the situation around or look for another position while you still have time.

So, if anything on this list sounds familiar, then it may be time to shake things up. These are the seven key signs that you are getting fired.

1. You’re Told about It

If you find yourself being called into a meeting with your boss (in which an HR representative is usually also present) and informed that there are concerns about your conduct or performance, then this is a pretty clear sign that you could be in trouble. Thanks to modern employment laws, though, it is extremely difficult (and risky) for companies to fire employees without a fair due process, so you will likely be given a chance to redeem yourself first.

The first step for most companies – especially if the issue is performance-related – is to place you on a formal performance review. This will usually entail close supervision and scrutiny from your immediate supervisor, as well as your hours being logged and documented. If no significant improvement is seen during this period, then the company will have justifiable grounds to get rid of you.

Am I going to get fired? It depends. Some companies mean it when they say they want to give you another chance and will do everything in their power to help you improve, including providing extra training. For some companies, though, the writing is already on the wall, and they are simply looking for the legal grounds to fire you. Either way, you need to heed the wake-up call and start bucking up your ideas.

2. Everything Is Being Documented

If everything work-related is suddenly being put into writing, with your boss adding half of the HR department into the CC list, then alarm bells should be starting to ring. As the old saying goes: ‘If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen’. So, odds are your communications are being gathered for a reason.

Of course, if this is the norm for your company, and your higherups have always acted this way, then you could be forgiven for simply feeling paranoid; after all, some bosses just like to know exactly what has been agreed upon. When discussing such things with managers and colleagues via email, though, you should always remain professional and fully aware of what is being asked of you.

Am I going to get fired? Not necessarily, although you should be wary of what you write in your correspondence and aware that it could potentially be held against you.

3. You’re Not Being Involved in Key Projects

If a new project has just come in and you’ve been informed that your services are not needed (especially if it’s a biggie), then you may be entitled to feel a little stung. If you find yourself being sidelined altogether, however, then you should definitely be concerned.

This could be a sign that your boss doesn’t trust you, either because your performance on previous projects has been questionable or because they simply don’t think you’re up to it. Either way, it doesn’t look good for your long-term prospects, and if you’re a spare part, then you’ll be first in line for the chop when savings need to be made.

Am I going to get fired? Talk to your manager first. They might want to give some of your colleagues a chance to prove their worth, or they might feel like you are taking too much on. But if concerns are raised or you keep being shunned, then it might be time to jump before you get pushed.

4. You Become the Office Pariah

Rightly or wrongly, word travels fast in the workplace; therefore, if you’re being lined up for the sack, then colleagues might start seeing you as damaged goods. If you previously had a good relationship with your boss and your coworkers, then your sudden ostracism could be a red flag that something bad is coming your way.

Alternatively, you might simply be a poor fit for the company’s culture. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing anything wrong, but if your colleagues and bosses believe that there is a misalignment between your way of doing things and the company’s, then you could find yourself (especially if you are a relatively new hire) being let go.

Am I going to get fired? Just because people start shunning you in the office, it doesn’t mean you’re about to get the boot; you might simply be disliked. Organisations take company culture seriously, though, so if you’re struggling to fit in, then you might want to consider changing either your approach or your employer.

5. You’re Being Set Up to Fail

As previously mentioned, it’s difficult for companies to simply get rid of people that they don’t want or like. Without proper grounds for dismissal, employees can sue for wrongful termination, creating financial, legal and publicity issues; therefore, HR departments sometimes need to engineer an excuse.

This can be achieved by shrinking your workload to the point where you can be classed as non-essential or increasing it to the point where it’s nearly impossible to keep up (possibly causing you serious stress issues and even burnout in the process). Either way, the end result is going to be the same: if the powers that be have decided to let you go, then there’s ultimately little you can do.

Am I going to get fired? In all likelihood, yes. This tactic is more prevalent in certain high-stakes industries than others, but the reality is that goals change and resources get shifted, and you are likely going to bear the brunt of it. It might be wise to start looking for another position as soon as you realise you are being primed.

6. Your Company Is in Trouble

Sometimes, employers have to let you go – even when they don’t particularly want to. If a company’s health is in jeopardy, then it’s an unfortunate reality that your job (especially if you are part of an underperforming or non-essential department) is going to be at risk.

While there is nothing you can do in regards to market factors or the way the company is being run, there are still steps you can take to protect your livelihood. For example, you could scrub up on your commercial awareness skills, keep a close eye on the business news and pay attention to any developments that could potentially impact your company. If there are grey clouds on the horizon, then you might want to consider jumping ship or moving to a part of the company that is more bulletproof.

Am I going to get fired? If, as mentioned, you work in a non-essential or underperforming department (or if your entire company is closing), then yes. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to a redundancy package (although if your organisation collapses overnight, then you may never see that money). Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself is to keep your ears to the ground and know when it’s the right time to move on.

7. You Deserve It

Getting the sack isn’t always a perceived miscarriage of justice; sometimes, the clearest sign that you might lose your job is that you’ve done something to merit it.

For instance, if you spend half your day on Reddit, you haven’t met a single target in months or you’ve been stealing office supplies for the last three years, then you can’t exactly claim that you’re a model employee. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if you’re subsequently summoned for a meeting ‘without coffee’.

Am I going to get fired? It depends, of course, on whether you (a) get caught and/or (b) if your employer deems it serious enough to dismiss you. If you’re not engaging with your job, though, then it may be more apt to ask yourself if you’re in the right career. Consider looking for a role that you are more passionate about and where your talents may be better suited or take an online career test like our very own Career Hunter to determine what you’re really meant to be doing.

One of the harsh realities of the working world is that jobs are not always secure. Whether it’s your company losing business, a new boss that doesn’t fancy you or a couple of bad months on your end, you can easily find yourself out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

If you are aware of these signs, though, and remain proactive and on top of things, then you can hopefully ready yourself for the fall – or even avoid it altogether. Remember: there are plenty of excuses for failing in life, but there are none for being unprepared for it.

What other signs have we missed? Let us know in the comments section below!