3 Signs That You're Getting Fired

Sometimes, you can just feel the tension in the air. Something is wrong, you don't know what, but it is making everybody uncomfortable. Then you get fired, and feel blindsided. Often, the signs that you were about to be let go were there all along.

(Photo Credit: WalkingGeek/Flickr)

"At-will" employees may be let go at any time for almost any or no reason. They may not be fired for illegal reasons, such as race or religion, but outside of civil rights, at-will employees may be told, "Thanks, but we no longer need your services anymore. We will mail you your last check."

Actually, this statement does not always come as a surprise. There are signs that your tenure at your current organization is coming to a close. At LinkedIn, Liz Ryan, the CEO and founder of Human Workplace, discusses a few dynamics that indicate you may be replaced, including:

1. Decrease in Responsibilities

If you are part of a big project and suddenly pulled off, this is a bad sign. If your boss has something bigger or more important going on and needs your help, you may breathe a sigh of relief and put your all into the new assignment. If you are confused as to why you were pulled off of the project, go ahead and ask. Indirect or unclear answers should send a red flag.

Sometimes, it is your own project that suddenly goes cold. Last week, your project was a high priority and this week it is considered an after-thought. Ryan says this usually means the project will be given high priority again after you are replaced.

2. You Suddenly Have Valuable Knowledge

Everybody likes to be asked what they think. It makes people feel important. Plus, mentorship opportunities may benefit both mentors and proteges. Proteges get training and mentors are recognized as valuable teachers and leaders.

However, not all "opportunities" to mentor are for your benefit. When suddenly you are asked to teach another worker the things you do on your job, you may be training your replacement. If everybody needs to dip into your knowledge base, it may because they know you won't be there to ask in another week or two.

3. Conflicts Disappear

This is a sinister one, because a conflict disappearing may seem, at first, as if the conflict were resolved. However, if you don't know how it has been resolved, but everything is fine and dandy, the resolution may be that you're are leaving.

Not all conflicts are personal. There may be disagreements about how to best run the office or arguments about other aspects of business. And healthy discussions in which people put different ideas on the table may get heated. This, in itself, does not mean somebody is going to get fired. But if you don't know why everything is suddenly not a big deal, you may be out.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever suspected you were about to lose your job? What happened? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 33 Marie 18 Feb
    I regretfully told my bosses husband that I was retiring soon. Since then, my boss finds lots of mistakes that I supposedly made ( other people have access to the same program). Another girl was hired & I have trained her somewhat but my boss constantly takes away some of my work to give to her, The husband asks me at least once a month if I am still planning to retire this year.I have developed tendonitus in my arm and my boss keeps saying it's because I use my home computer. Normally I am only on my home computer about 15 minutes a day but at work am on about 7 hours. I think she is afraid I will claim a workplace injury.
  2. 32 Peer 22 Nov
    In big companies during performance appraisal HR asks each manager to rank his subordinates and forces there should be employees in the bottom 5-10%. They will be given PIP and the managers will force ridiculous KPI's for 1-3 months. That's the right time to build a case to fire the affected persons.
  3. 31 hf 05 Oct
    I was laid off, and funny thing was all 3 signs did happen, for me, I used to work by dispatch, go to this machine fix it, than go to this machine and fix it. well I made the mistake of fixing the machines so well, they reduced 8 employees out of the team, I didn't know, it was my first job out of college. but later I found out they hired all overseas in China and Japan to do the manufacturing, early 2000 and late 90s that was the trend, it really hurt the US. and something these big companies do not realize about call centers or work centers in other countries is that , these people are incredibly smart, but becuase of the poverty also incredibly ruthless. soon after that change, many, many identity thefts were more present for US citizens more than ever. and these current credit card breaches that are happening for all these companies, they will never admit it, but pretty sure they started in some 3rd world call center. please know im not prejudice, I am from a 3rd world country and have lived there. I know how many of these people think. the morality and work ethic of an average american far exceeds what the same counterpart in another country with severe poverty will do. more crime, more opportunity for crime, and also many call center reps are hustled into selling customer information if local criminals know they are working there. in India low level human resource managers take bribes to hire for jobs. it is so common, that parents save money all their life for their son's work bribe, and their daughter's wedding dowry's. these are things that are never spoken out loud to outsiders. but taking american jobs, and technology to other countries is the worst thing we did to ourselves. now they know how we do things. it is the biggest security risk to this country. and no one realizes it.
  4. 30 Phill 14 Sep
    These sorts of articles amaze me - this is hardly rocket science - did someone really get paid to write this?
  5. 29 C 09 Sep
    As a snr manager (and previously top performer), I picked up that my boss was committing serious fraud in the insurance company where I worked, reported it....well, I experienced ALL of these and more......felt I was going off my head with all the subliminal things that were taking place, as they tried to get me to leave. I refused to leave on the grounds that I had not done anything wrong, eventually they created situations that made me look incompetent, and when I tried to defend myself, was fired for insubordination. I took this to labour court, and later found out the company had bribed the counsellor. I should have known there was something wrong, when I heard that the average lifespan of an employee is 18 months at this company. Thanks for the feedback, is helping me not to beat up on myself so much, for merely doing my job well!
  6. 28 gabby 05 Sep
    as I was Reading the article, I was so amazed, those 3 signs are definately an indicator that someone is going to be fired, happened to a good friend a month ago.
  7. 27 shashi 04 Sep
    H what we should all be taking from this is the following: - Put the Lord your God first in all that you do and everything else (all good) will be added unto you - We put all our hopes/ dreams/ energies in work and everything seems to be money, money, greed, worry, strife- this is but a mere distraction from your true purpose. - so what if you get fired, so what if you dont have a job, have FAITH, trust in GOD, renounce this WORLD - all this stress is so unessasary, focus on whats important, your LIFE. Your Eternal LIFE
  8. 26 Petrus Joubert 04 Sep
    I, was suddenly told that I need to teach other people my work for in case I am not around anymore. Then after that everything I did was questioned. Then I would be called to explain work that did not get done, but was out of my control. I decided to put my CV back on the market. I was fortunate to find another job. My resignation came as a surprise and caught my manager off-guard. I was offered a counter package but did not accept. Think it was only done to get all the info they required from me. Up to date my position has not been filled as it was declared redundant.
  9. 25 v 04 Sep
    In my case after 8 long yrs of dedication and hard work, I was let go. A new GM came in and he wanted to bring his friend to replace me. So he did. Call me in his office and said " We are going different direction and we wont be needing you. " I ask " Did I do something wrong or not doing my job" and the response was " no you are a great guy, honest and hard worker and the people and customer love you but we are going a different direction" what the F is the different direction. and one month later he did it with another manager and replace him with their friend. Right to work state..
  10. 24 BR 04 Sep
    One may have many competencies, good in nature, good interpersonal relationships and good performance but still I saw people loose jobs even in strong employee centered companies. Reason say in 99 % of cases is inability of your direct boss to convince top management. Because Boss may had played low key on your account, hijacking your credit of work, but some of the non-performing key result area, blame passed on to you to save himself.
  11. 23 BillyS 04 Sep
    I'd have to say the three 'signs' were pretty spot-on for my situation. I was also (as also mentioned by another commentator) promised a vertical move into another to-be-named department after I passed on my present knowledge to three other persons. (Read: it took three different people to take on my main three accounts). In the dark days of Life Fitness (about 2008) the decided they weren't making enough money for the Board, and heads proceeded to 'roll'. I was one of the 86 let go one day (and one of the 25 paid 'hush money'). The manager who pulled my name out of the hat as a candidate to leave was summarily let go about a year later but with a substantial fee for parting ways. Later she admitted she let me go because she felt her position was in jeopardy of me taking it. ...Which I'd have never done because I knew the company changed managment like we change our shirts. So, be sure to add in the semantics of political twists that keep your job at jeopardy.
  12. 22 wllmjunior 04 Sep
    The Business World of today is no place for complacency or sentimental notions of days gone by. It is fast paced, forever changing, and NEVER has your best interest at heart (unless your name happens to be Mr. U.S. Dollar). The employee is expected to act and behave as if their employment is guaranteed for life while the employer is allowed to terminate one's employment for nearly any reason / whim whatsoever. Do yourself a huge favor. Always consider your career and ability to earn a living as priority number one in the business arena. Don't be looking for signs that you are about to be fired. EXPECT IT at all times! The best advice I can offer to anyone working today is to remain relevant and marketable in your field through education, always be vigilant and looking for better opportunities, and keep that resume current at all times.
  13. 21 Angie 04 Sep
    I would certainly fire the person who wrote this article or the person in charge of proofreading it prior to being published to the web. It's very difficult to take an article seriously when it is full of typos.
  14. 20 Paul H 04 Sep
    Keep your eyes and ears open to everything going on around you, especially in your department! Watch out for telltale signs of the "old-timers" suddenly being let go. Look for subtle changes such as unforeseen or warranted promotions for other employees either in or out of your department, locks or combination entry locks being changed, and upper management movement or "restructuring". Pay very close attention to your gut feelings and your instincts as they are probably correct! I was let go after 15 years of service to a company and I felt it coming for months before it happened. I guess the moral of the story is always, always, always keep looking for a new or better job; and, keep that resume up-to-date!!!
  15. 19 Patricia 04 Sep
    IBM is notorious for placement of incompetent leaders in charge of million dollar projects then relying on 1-2 staff to keep the ship afloat. No wonder USAF has opted out of continual contract opportunities with IBM. Day one IBM leaders state " I have NO PeopleSoft experience...HELL, I can barely spell it! "They scramble to find cheap incompetent labor then squabble when the only 2 staff that know anything go elsewhere!
  16. 18 Mark R 04 Sep
    These same 3 elements also occur when you are a valuable asset to the company and eligible for retirement. If you mention 6-12 months in advance that you are considering retirement, suddenly conflicts with management go away because they don't want to upset you enough to leave them hanging on a project. They start trimming down the amount of new work that would normally fall your way. And everyone wants to glean you for every bit of knowledge you have before you leave. If you aren't that valuable to them, they won't start treating you any different and hope you leave sooner than later. My last year has been a much more pleasant work environment since I said I wanted to retire. They keep trying to talk me in to part time versus full retirement. Work life is so stress-free when your mantra can be, "What're they gonna do? Fire me?"
  17. 17 Ellen 04 Sep
    Indicators to me that management were going to let me go was that that they kept making empty promises that they were going to upgrade my job based on responsibilities that I was handling were the same as jobs that were paid a higher income. That never happened. Instead, during restructuring I was redeployed to another department at the same job level and pay I was already getting. Upgrading my job would have acknowledged that I was handling responsibilities of a job that was a level higher than the one I was in plus it would have meant a higher income. Later, my old job was down-graded. Even though I was encouraged to apply for higher paying jobs I was never awarded any of the jobs I applied for, yet I had all the qualifications and was already handling the same set of responsibilities in my current job. I never believe a word management says to me any more. I don't trust them.
  18. 16 Al 04 Sep
    Just going through the same phases. Yesterday I was pulled off a project - there was just too much scope creep and I kept denying the constant requests for changing scope, speeding things up without management really understanding that if you take resources from one side of the fence the stuff on that side of the fence suffers. Always putting the cart before the horse and of course they point the fingers and the vendors and the external project managers and behind closed doors to their only PMP certified project manager as well. I heard my VP state to the EVP: How dare he tell me that.... so I just shake my head, already knowing that the end of next week I will be let go. It also feels liberating knowing that however much effort I put in here it would never be enough. These were four very difficult years where I worked with a fantastic team of technology engineers and achieved a lot but growth wise I only learned how silly some people can be in upper management.... CEO gone last year, CFO gone now, Comptroller left and the Tax directors and VP left.... Smells like a sinking ship....
  19. 15 K 04 Sep
    I am currently between 2 and 3. I began my search several months ago. They definitely seem to be progressing as the article implies. Writing on the wall!
  20. 14 Krishnanand Joshi 04 Sep
    Sometimes the Manager is a good actor u can't even understand doesn't show any expressions
  21. 13 Rocky Wilson 04 Sep
    Job security doesn't exist. We all know it, but most of us try to tell ourselves that we have a job / career for life. I was a financial advisor for 3 years and decided on my own to leave the company and pursue something that only I could control the outcome of. If you've been looking for something more then just a job, I run 3-4 webinar's every single day that run only about 30 minutes long. You will absolutely leave knowing more then you did when you came. I'm not sure if I'm clear to leave a link to the webinar so I will instead leave my contact info for those of you who would like to reserve a spot on the webinar. I look forward to speaking / mentoring you all soon ! Email,text or call me with "I'm interested in attending the webinar" and I will send you my website Rocky Wilson Rocky.Wilson@hotmail.com 609-338-7140
  22. 12 Ten 04 Sep
    I had a situation where I accepted a new position with a small company. After a few months they were moving to a new facility, and I noticed that I was not involved in any of the move discussions or being assigned a desk location. Now that's a true sign
  23. 11 Jim McNeely 04 Sep
    I knew on May 28, 2013 that my promotion would end with a termination. I was fired on May 14, 2014, 50 weeks after my promotion. Muscogee County Schools are run by a corrupt group of inept administrators. JWM
  24. 10 mike 04 Sep
    Yeah those are possibilities, however They can just call You in to the office and say " Sorry we have to let you go, nothing personal, ok?." I call this The sidestep fireing. This is more common termination.
  25. 9 Johnson 04 Sep
    These are definitely indicators. In my case, there was also a lack of response from upper management on ideas/requests and also requests for "how things are done" with certain projects that I had developed. Would that I had been more observant and found a new job beforehand. The clincher for me was when I came into work one day and my computer was missing. I finally realized then what was coming.
  26. 8 Cal 04 Sep
    I experienced all three of these things in progression and when #1 occurred, I began a job search and was successfully able to give my notice just as #3 was beginning. When anyone of these things occurs you should start looking!
  27. 7 Valerie 04 Sep
    I was recently let go from a job and saw #1. It was a new position when I started it 5 months ago and they just had a hard time finding additional work for me to do other than mailers. In the beginning, I was working some with online marketing and then the workload dwindled down to addressing 200 envelopes a week and my employer just couldn't justify 20 hours a week doing mailers so they let me go.
  28. 6 CS Venkat 04 Sep
    I did not experience any of these warning signs. However, I could feel a tension in the air, and I found my boss was nervous and did not make eye contact easily. I had always had a good relationship with him, and we liked each other. The only warning sure got was a patently false 6 month review, where my performance was suddenly called into question on a number of tasks. When I pointed out to my boss that my preceding review was excellent, and that the complaints being aired now were inaccurate, he assured me that the views were not his own, but that of "higher management!" He promised to work with me to satisfy "higher management" and get me a good score next time around. I believed him. I was then blindsided after a couple of weeks by being fired for the "performance lapses." My boss visibly wept while parotting the reasons (false of course) for my job being terminated. To save him further embarassment to his reputation and honesty, especially when the HR manager was present to witness his emotions, I kept my counsel. About 50 senior employees were let go the same day as I was. I later learned from knowledgeable people that this company was notorious for such practices. Some day, it is likely going to cost them big money. I feel sympathy for my boss, who is likely to experience a similar fate as me in the forseeable future.
  29. 5 Vinnie 04 Sep
    All three happened to me but the partners who own the company, they don't actually fire you - they use these tactics to make you so uncomfortable that you end up leaving on your own. I confronted them over and over but to no avail - they ignore, delay or deflect every question in order to avoid conflict. I dealt with my situation for 7 years - primarily because it started when the recession kicked in and the job market dried up. Moving wasn't an option so I sucked it up until an incident with another employee forced me to make the decision to resign. The partners protected him despite his obnoxious behavior and I decided it was better to quit then to work for an organization that doesn't respect their employees or where the ownership has no integrity. I've started my own business, been extremely happy and haven't looked back once!
  30. 4 Kenneth Stevens 04 Sep
    I too was laid off after the company I worked for acquired the product line the previous company was making and selling product from after 9 months. I kind of saw the consolidation coming about 3 months before the end of the year and started working on updating my resume and start looking at other opportunities. Although this was a blessing in disguise I am still unfortunately in between jobs since the layoff almost 6 months ago. I am close on closing in on an new and better opportunity with a bigger and better company though.
  31. 3 Mark 04 Sep
    8 years ago I was asked to start training a new person in the work I was doing. This person became a shadow, coming to meetings with me learning the types of reporting etc. I could see there was something up. I had feelers out and landed a better job, I hadn't made this common knowledge in the office as I didn't want to do anything to risk the new job. But sure enough I was at a meeting with my shadow and another colleague who was also in contact with my new employer. Other colleague starts talking about my new job. Shadow turns to me and says ' I knew you were leaving but I didn't know it would be so soon" Hahaha at least I did have the last laugh. Shadow was a political appointee, totally incompetent. I could have been training for years. A few months after I left all my projects had fallen apart and shadow had escaped to a less demanding job. Six months after I left I was still getting phone calls asking me how to do this or where this was. I put a lot into that job and I might have felt bad about the projects going south if it weren't for the total lack of loyalty coming back the other way.
  32. 2 Deby 28 Aug
    #1 and #2 happened to me and sure enough I confronted the situation and was told that my job was being eliminated and that I could stay on in a position of less status and 1/2 my salary. I was thankful it wasn't a sudden dismissal but it was a surprise after 14.5 years of service. I was able to leave with my dignity in tact and found another position but the emotional healing from a year of suspicions was difficult. A year since I left has brought that healing. So thankful for a good outcome to one of the most difficult times in my work history. And, I love my new job!
  33. 1 Andrea 28 Aug
    I was laid off earlier this year. The warning sign for me was not being included in meetings with my colleagues and being avoided by upper management the days leading up to my dismissal. It was for the best though. I'm actually kind of glad they did it.


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