One has a good idea of what they do, who they are, and what position they play in the company. Or the nice chap in sales who is completely oblivious that the recent merger means his job is now obsolete. They couldn't see a pink slip coming if it was 8ft tall and glowing in the dark, screaming "you're fired! But generally, they praise within reason and avoid anything too negative. This is rarely good news for about 90% of the staff. The company may need a big reason to give you the boot, especially if you've done everything right and are the life and soul of your department. "Ahh Wilkins, we need you to expand our new line of warm, alcohol-free beers to construction workers." "Johnson, how's that line of umbrellas doing in the new L. So, over time the poor sucker in management's sights will be given a new job title, less work, less people (or no people) and will eventually have a hard time finding anything of any real value to do all day.

They are under no delusions, and will no doubt leave for another job long before they are ever considered as cannon-fodder. You May Have to Fight for Unemployment Benefits) And then there's the other kind. The woman who spends most of her day chatting on the phone to friends or doing online shopping. Did you lose money on an account that was previously bulletproof? Were you caught having sex on the boss's desk with the boss's spouse? Unless you're a real dope, you know if you have screwed up. It may not be the final nail in your coffin, but it's a nail in the coffin nonetheless. The boss really doesn't want to say anything TOO good, because everyone has room for improvement. But whether you were sold or merged, the outcome is the same…changes will be made across the board. This one is underhanded, which is why it's so popular. After all, you don't fire someone who's got a ton of important work to do, with loads of people underneath him/her.

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It was the fact that my friend was laid off and another impolitely fired (along with being angry at my spouse for not employing me on a project) that led me to write, direct, produce and do the art and set decoration for "Pink Slip" - Part 1 - Suzie, a new webisode now on youtube. All I'm saying is that although these are depressing times, take a few minutes from your job search and watch Pink Slip - Part 1 - Suzie. Part 2 which comes out in November is actually hysterically funny, as our hero Max's depression takes an unexpected turn. Muriel Your clues are indeed the ominous clouds that can portend trouble down the road.

See my recent post for how managers should handle terminations with dignity and professionalism.

But it basically comes down to one role…the project takes you away from REAL work and puts you on something that's either mildly important, not important at all, is going nowhere, or is just plain useless. The second you are asked to leave a project you know is important for one that sounds like a bunch of bologna, your career is heading south quickly. Are your successes and accomplishments being glossed over? It shows that the company or your boss still gives a crap. It's another one of those 'cover the company's butt' scenarios, in which HR demonstrates they did everything they possibly could to make things work. Not a major warning sign on its own, but combined with a few others, this has danger written all over it. This person may have been the only one keeping the wolf from your door. Certain companies give certain groups of employees unplanned vacations as an internal control--it's a way of detecting misuse of company resources.

"Hey Smith, how is that special project on frozen concentrated orange juice coming along? Can I ask what this has to do with the IT department? This one's tricky to work out, because most bosses and coworkers are weasels who will happily play down your role in order to make themselves look good. So it may not be a sign of danger, since the employees that's normally done for are usually in financially critical jobs, which is why they would have the chance to misuse resources.

Until you show up, when suddenly the conversation will change abruptly to something really original…like the weather. Did your recently receive a pay freeze or, worse still, a pay cut? Can you clear a room faster than a pack of rabid pit-bulls?

There are a few reasons this could happen, none of them are good. If you're one of those people who are oblivious to this kind of question, please skip to #13. It's not an easy thing to face up to, but you can at least spot the telltale signs. If you're ok at your job but are just not popular, that will be seen as affecting morale. Either shape up your attitude, or find a new job that maybe doesn't require you to work with people on a day-to-day basis. Have you recently been asked to take some time off? Companies in America are not prone to encouraging vacation time (compared to Europe, where we get oodles of time off).

" You want to avoid being in that second category at all costs. If you can answer yes to THREE or more of these questions, you may want to think about sprucing up your resume and dry-cleaning your best interview attire. Are you no longer in the loop about, well, anything? Suddenly you're finding out about company news from the cleaning lady or the new girl in accounting. So if your review paints you as a stupid version of Homer Simpson with less talent than a Backstreet Boy, well, that tap on the shoulder is coming. Not long after this, that same employee will be out on the street.

If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from "the company's doing what??! In fact, if you're at work and have enough time to read this article, you may very well be in the firing line. Has your office, cubicle or working space recently been down-sized?

No-one is going to green-light a project from someone whose time is up at that company. In your old position, it may have been very difficult or almost impossible to get rid of you. You can get rid of anyone, even protected classes (older folks, pregnant ladies etc) if you simply eliminate a position. Remember, THREE or more and you're more than likely heading for the unemployment line.

They don't want to associate themselves with the kiss of death that is your idea. Have you recently been promoted to a position of less responsibility? But if the company promotes you into a newly created role, with less responsibility and no direct reports, then you have a new scenario…position elimination. Take a long hard look at your working life, and do something about it.

* It's usually not wrong to end sentences with a preposition...