It’s funny how the words “you're fired” always come as a bit of a surprise. Most people are shocked like they weren’t expecting it at all. That's quite odd when you consider how many red flags usually precede the actual moment.
Of course, as with many other things in life, sometimes you can only see clearly when looking back… But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Once you know the signs you should be looking for, at least you have a chance to turn things around.
The following are the top 20 warning signs that you may be getting fired soon. Watch out!
The main signs you’re about to get fired
- Work just got a lot easier.
- Or perhaps you feel like the work is impossible to manage.
- You screwed up big-time recently.
- Your boss wants to meet you one-on-one suspiciously often.
- You feel your boss has become strangely distant.
- Your coworkers seem to avoid you.
- They stopped inviting you to important meetings.
- Your performance reviews are at best mediocre.
- They encourage you to go on vacation.
- Someone with the same skill set has just been hired.
- Your boss goes directly to your underlings.
- Deadlines just moved up and they’re all around the same date.
- Your mistakes or slacking off no longer matter.
- You hear about the company having financial troubles.
- A new boss is brought in.
- You’re denied a transfer, raise, or promotion—with no explanation.
- Your perks begin to evaporate.
- You're never praised for your accomplishments.
- You feel burnt out and you hate your job anyway.
- You’re looking for signs you’re about to get fired.
1. Work just got a lot easier
In a functioning company, new tasks hardly ever stop coming. Ever. So if you feel like you have little to do, your boss probably hands your work over to someone who can do it better than you.
2. Or perhaps you feel like the work is impossible to manage
Another tactic that employers use to fire people is to swamp them with impossible tasks. Sometimes managers do it as if to give you a chance to redeem yourself. Other times, they want to set you up to fail.
3. Did you screw up big-time recently?
Depending on the size of the incident, you can get fired for this alone. Mind you, we're not talking about minor faux pas here. If you spilled coffee on your boss’ new tie, that's fine (just don't do it too often).
But perhaps you've made a major mistake that cost your company a lot of money. Or worse — caused an external embarrassment. In that case, you can worry about your job and getting fired.
4. Your boss wants to meet you one-on-one suspiciously often
Especially, if this wasn't the case before. If you think that’s a good thing, think again. They want to check on you this often because they've already lost all confidence in you. For what other reason would they feel the need to micromanage everything you do?
5. Yet, you feel your boss has become strangely distant
Whether your boss decides to watch your every step or ignore you entirely, sudden changes in behavior rarely mean anything good. If you feel that your superiors get tense whenever they see you, take it as one of the signs you’re probably about to be fired.
6. And your coworkers also seem to avoid you
The same goes for your coworkers. A bit like children avoiding outcasts on the playground, co-workers tend to steer clear of sinking colleagues. After all, they've probably already found out about your dismissal.
7. They even stopped inviting you to important meetings
When you're about to get fired, managers no longer see any advantage in having you present. After all, if they still valued what you have to say, they wouldn't want to fire you. Moreover, at this point, they probably prefer to keep all sensitive information proprietary.
8. Your performance reviews are at best mediocre
Mediocre performance reviews are a lot like being told you're “nice”. Although it's not a terrible thing to hear, it basically means you're disposable. Bosses often give mediocre reviews to people they don't plan on keeping around.
9. They encourage you to go on vacation
If you're looking for signs you’re about to be fired, it doesn't get any clearer than this. Provided it's not a reward for a huge project you've just finished, your boss is probably telling you they'd rather not have you in the office.
(Btw, ignore this point if you're about to have your contract prolonged. If they advise you to take a vacation now it may mean that they're counting on your contributions in the future.)
10. Someone with the same skill set has just been hired
And there wasn't any extra opening. Unsurprisingly, your company doesn’t want to fire you without having someone to fill your shoes.
It’s quite common to have your job listed on the Internet months before you get fired. They might even ask you to train the replacement yourself.
11. Your boss goes directly to your underlings
At some point, your boss begins to go directly to your subordinates. Sometimes it can be the same person they’ve asked you to train. If that’s the case, it means they’re going to replace you very soon.
12. Your deadlines just moved up and they’re all around the same date
If having all your deadlines stacked together sounds stressful, don't worry, it's about to end.
At least now you know the exact date of your dismissal. It’s a common practice to make people clear their to-do list before letting them know their services are no longer required.
13. Your mistakes or slacking off no longer matter
Why? Because it's your actual mistakes and slacking off that made your boss want to fire you in the first place. They already know about it.
On the other hand, suddenly they look at your minor poor behavior under a microscope. After all, the longer the list of transgressions, the easier it'll be to justify your dismissal.
14. You hear about the company having financial troubles
When a company suffers from financial troubles, anyone's job can be on the line. During hard times, both individual jobs and entire departments that fail to generate profit are the first ones to receive cuts.
15. A new boss is brought in
If your previous boss was let go for not performing well enough, the arrival of new leadership is often accompanied by massive restructuring.
Unfortunately, even if you're perfectly willing to play along with the new guy, he might still perceive you as loyal to the old regime. And hand you a pink slip.
16. You're denied a transfer, raise, or promotion — with no explanation
If you're a solid performer and your track record is good, you should be rewarded. If you ask for a raise or promotion, at the very least your employer owes you an explanation. When they don’t give you an explanation, you can expect the worst.
Of course, if you get a denotation, that's an equally bad sign (if not worse). You can probably slowly start packing your desk.
17. Your perks begin to evaporate
Remember that corner office you used to have? Or perhaps you were the only one not invited to that conference in Barcelona last month — while before that, no event was able to go on without your presence.
Perks are the way your company says you're a valued employee. If they begin to disappear, you have every right to worry.
18. You're never praised for your accomplishments
This one's a bit tricky since most bosses will happily play down your role in order to make themselves look good.
But what if you used to be the golden boy or girl? If they ignore even major accomplishments that benefit the whole company, it’s time to start panicking.
Furthermore, you know it's even worse if you receive a warning instead.
19. You feel burnt out and you hate your job anyway
Being fed up with your job leads to low performance. If you already know, deep down, that you hate your job, try to be honest about it.
It’s only natural that you'd underperform in a job you don't enjoy. And that’s unfair to your employer as well as yourself. Use this as a chance to reconsider your career, and leave before you're fired.
There are also other reasons why you should want to leave our current position. Check out the top 5 signs you should quit your job right now.
20. You're looking for signs you're about to get fired
Not only have you clicked on this article, but you've also almost finished it, too. The chances are you have already begun to suspect the end is near. Don't ignore your gut feeling, it's probably telling you something important. And having a letter of resignation ready won't hurt you either.
Once you start looking for a new position, having a top-notch resume will improve your chances of being called for an interview.
If you want to know how to write a perfect resume, read our resume guide (or click on the video guide below).
FAQ: Are you about to be fired?
What can I do if I think I'm getting fired?
If you’d like to keep your job, you can always try to join a new project and show that you’re being proactive. Staying in the office for long hours and being visible also won’t hurt your chances of being noticed and appreciated.
If I think I'll get fired, will having a talk with my boss help?
Depends on your relationship with the boss, and also on how set they are when it comes to their decision to fire you. If they’re still considering keeping you, having an honest, open, and polite conversation (where you will promise improvement) can’t hurt you.
Should I lie about being fired during my future job interviews?
You definitely shouldn’t mention the uglier parts of your departure from the previous job. It’s best to provide a diplomatic answer if the recruiter asks — such as saying “I decided it was time to go.” Also always make sure you don’t sound bitter and never bad-mouth a past job. You want to make a positive impression during a job interview.
What should I do when I actually get fired?
Make sure you negotiate the exact terms of your departure. Especially focus on getting severance pay, to which you’re most likely entitled. In this case, you try to get the highest one possible, so you can be stress-free during your upcoming job search period.
Should I wait to get fired or should I quit first?
Well, depends. For the narrative of your resume or a cover letter, it may look better if you decide to quit. However, then you probably won’t be entitled to financial compensation. So it’s really up to you and your priorities.