18 Signs You're About to Get Fired

  1. Your company is sold
  2. Your company is not making money
  3. Your company pursues a strategy you didn't support
  4. Your span of control has been reduced
  5. You're left out of key meetings and decisions
  6. You're not getting buy-in
  7. You have to fight tooth and nail to get anything done
  8. You have a new boss
  9. Your top priorities don't match up with your boss's
  10. You can't attract top talent
  11. You screw up big-time
  12. You engage in an unethical activity
  13. You're on bad terms with a colleague responsible for generating revenue
  14. Your boss places unreasonable demands on you
  15. Your boss minimizes your accomplishments
  16. Your boss hires an executive coach for you
  17. Your boss asks you to work on "special projects"
  18. You see a confidential search ad that describes your job to a tee

Has this happened to you? You're headed to a meeting with your boss, and when you reach his office, you find the corporate attorney and/or HR director with him. The next thing you know, the tag team is telling you, "We no longer need your services," and they're ushering you out the door. (To read about one CIO's experience, see What It's Like to Lose Your Job.)

The first time it happens, it can come as a complete shock. But chances are there were early warning signs that indicated your job was in serious danger—warning signs you missed.

"I've seen a lot of people get blindsided," says Dan Coffey, a consultant with Spherion who helps executives who've recently lost their jobs find their next one. He estimates that 50 percent of people fired are caught completely off guard when they should have been aware of the evidence against them.

To help you decipher the signals, we've compiled a comprehensive list of red flags. Learn them, and you may be able to take measures to get yourself out of a precarious position—before the only exit route is through the front door while carrying a cardboard box.

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