All may not be lost if it looks like you'll lose your job
Even if you can boast of many promotions and other accolades in your career history, it can be foolhardy to presume your current job is a given. The world of work is a dynamic place, and many factors can impact job security.
In fact, if you are even thinking that your job might be in jeopardy, you are probably right.
Here are the most common signs:
• Your company has announced major changes or is having financial woes.
• Your boss is behaving differently: avoiding you, asking you questions about how you perform aspects of your job, not giving you new projects, sending you emails that seem like a paper trail.
• You have a new boss, and your personalities and philosophies aren't meshing well.
• You feel out of the loop. You are not included in meetings as often as before, others are having closed-door meetings, people from HR have been floating around.
• And the most inevitable sign of all is getting a written performance improvement plan (PIP) or any equivalent disciplinary action. While some employees do emerge from a PIP without losing their jobs, fully recovering from one is challenging.
If you have been noticing any of the warning signs, now is the time to be proactive. If you act quickly, there is hope. Here's what to do:
Be honest with yourself. If you have been coasting, crank up the quantity and quality of your work. Be visible. Come in early; stay late. Be engaged and enthusiastic in all your encounters. Show interest in what is going on in your boss's and peers' jobs. Be helpful to them.
Even though you may (understandably) be a basket of emotions, you've got to manage them well. That might mean deep breathing, saying a prayer, or disengaging for a few minutes if your nerves are jangling too much.
You also need to be realistic.
No matter how much effort you put into saving your job, it may be a lost cause. So ratchet up your networking efforts. Update your resume. Get active on LinkedIn and with professional associations.
Do not behave desperately, like this person who recently emailed me:
“I am in the process of searching for a new job. There are a number of factors behind this all of which add up to me needing to be elsewhere. I was wondering if you could let me know if you hear of any positions that open up that may fit my capabilities. I am attaching my resume for your information. I have two recruiters looking for me as well, so hopefully I can be out of here by fall.”
Instead, your emails should be something like this one I also recently received:
“I hope all is well! I am writing to share some difficult news and hopefully pick your brain a little. I recently received news that I would not have a role moving forward post-merger. I feel fortunate to have been in a position to know in advance before broader communications and I am determined to find the right next thing for me. Would you please keep me in mind as you interact with your network? I am very open to relocation or staying local. It just needs to be the right opportunity.”
Even if you do end up losing your job, if you behave professionally both at work and in your job search, you will probably end up in a better situation than the one you are currently in. In other words, it's really up to you how things turn out.