Am I Getting Fired or Am I Just Paranoid?

Fired or paranoid.
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Have you ever asked yourself some variation of “Am I getting fired or am I just paranoid?”

I certainly have, especially early on in my career. But it’s a phrase that can sneak up on you even after you ramp up your skills and experiences. 

Yet many times, we actually overthink certain situations which makes us paranoid. But there are some clear indicators that your job could be in jeopardy. 

So how do you tell if you are getting fired or if you are just paranoid? Often your instincts are right, but here are a few signs to assess.

7 Signs You Might Be Getting Fired

Remember, the best thing you can do is assess the situation, without obsessing. Easier said than done, but that can save you from too much emotional stress of overthinking. 

1. Your Manager Starts Putting Everything in Writing

When your boss begins to document every little thing around you lately, it could be a sign of them prepping to go to HR and getting ready to let you go. The best thing you can do is be professional, stay focused on your work, and document things yourself. 

Now, it doesn’t mean you are getting fired per se. So don’t panic at this time.

Your boss may have already been doing this if they are a micromanager and you just took notice. Or they could be getting pressure from the executive team to crack down on work. 

2. You Notice A Change In How Your Manager Interacts With You

If you’ve had a pretty good working relationship with your manager, but notice a personality change randomly – this could be a bad sign.

But why you might be paranoid is because your manager is human too and may have things going on in their personal lives affecting their mood. And sometimes, people just have some bad days in general.

However, if they only seem distant and cold towards you very randomly and seem fine with other colleagues, then something is up. 

3. You’re Left Off Projects (Or Removed From Them) Frequently

Are you being removed from projects you normally are the lead on? And you have no idea why or have any clear reasons for the sudden change? 

If you noticed you’re being removed from projects or not included in ones you would be, this could be a sign of your impending termination. It’s a good idea to address this in a professional manner to understand what may have caused these changes. 

Of course, communication should be key from your manager and share why this is happening.

But if need, take the initiative to ask and see what kind of response you get. It could simply be that you’re going to be needed on different projects. Try not to jump to conclusions without gauging how a conversation goes about the sudden changes. 

4. The Company Has Financial Troubles

If you know your company is having financial issues, it can be a sign that impending layoffs are potentially going to happen. 

Indicators of financial issues could be budgets drastically being cut, a hiring freeze, changes to 401k matches, things in the news if your company is public, other co-workers sharing things they heard, etc. 

Now this could also be a small blip in the growth of the company. Call it a financial sore spot that they’ll quickly pull through. And it’s possible the gossip around the office isn’t true and the financials aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. 

5. Someone With Very Similar Skills Is Being Hired

So there is a few signs under here:

  • You find your exact job title and description is being hired for currently. This could be on the company careers page, job boards, LinkedIn, etc. 
  • Someone was already hired that is very similar to you and you are asked to train them on similar things to your job. 

These could be some bad signs that you are facing termination. But it’s not always the case either as your department, team, or company in general might growing and needs more people in your field to handle the work.

Remember to do some research about your company. Has there been significant hiring growth? Are the finances strong and growing? Are their new teams and managers where people with similar titles are needed? 

Take a step back to think before jumping to the thought that you are about to be fired. 

6. You Made a Big Mistake Recently

Did you recently make a mistake on a project or task? And not just something small, but a significant one that caused issues for the company or customers?

If you know the mistake you made is causing a big financial hit, it’s possible you’ll be fired. But if it’s a small mistake here and there, you usually do not need to sweat it. 

Of course, you don’t want to make a habit of constant small mistakes either. Those will add up over time and could lead to you being back on the job market. 

However, if it’s your first offense and something you can redeem yourself from, you may still be okay.

I’ve made a bigger mistake earlier in my career. And while the company owners were pretty peeved, they also know I was young and overlooked something. Fortunately it didn’t cause financial damage, but could have ruined a strong partnership we had in place. 

7. You’re Put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

If you are suddenly put on a performance improvement plan, it means you are being monitored for poor work performance. And now the manager is formally documenting and checking in with you more to get you back on track. 

Sometimes this can be a good wake up call and be helpful if your manager is supportive, covers measurable goals, and generally wants to help you improve. But it can also make you question your skills and impact your motivation as you’ll question the real motives behind it.

Yes, sometimes PIPs are a way to justify firing you or hoping that you’ll quit. And other times, it could be a legit way to give you a real chance at improving. 

If it’s obvious the PIP plan is unrealistic and destined to make you fail, then it’s probably created that way on purpose. Get your resume cleaned up and think about your next career move. 

Your “Getting Fired” Plan 

Even if things are going well, your job could lay you off or find reasons to terminate you. Of course you don’t want to think the worst of your employer, but you have to look out for yourself. 

There are too many horror stories of employees looking at their jobs or employers playing games. Just take a look at the /Layoffs subreddit channel. Some wild stuff out there. 

Even if you are comfortably employed, you still must have a plan ready if you unfortunately are fired or laid off. You might be wondering what this plan can include, here’s my recommendations:

  • Periodically update and organize your LinkedIn profile.
  • Continue to network and follow people on LinkedIn. You never know when that network will be helpful. Essentially, keep your personal rolodex fresh and connected even when you don’t need anything. 
  • Refresh your resume on a recurring basis with new wins or highlights. Do not wait until you are fired or laid off to scramble around and update your it. Use an AI resume tool like Teal to help you out. 
  • Join online communities in your job field or industry. For example, Tech Workers Club is perfect for those working in tech. Great way to network, socialize, find jobs, get support, and more. And there are other communities for other industry and job fields as well.
  • Keep a “swipe file” of your work. The wins, unique projects, cool things you did, etc. Documenting this keeps it fresh in your mind and accessible whenever you need it. 
  • Start saving money now if you do not have at least a 6 months emergency fund. I personally recommend 9-12 months, but I know it can be challenging to save this much. Give yourself a buffer as unemployment only goes so far (if you qualify for it). 

Fired or Paranoid? The Lines Can Sometimes Blur

As you read in this article, sometimes the lines can blur around potentially getting fired and just being paranoid.

In tough economic climates or job markets, it’s easy to get in your head about everything. There’s so much uncertainty that your mind can race to the worst case scenario. I’ve certainly had that feeling a few times, especially if others around you are getting laid off. 

I’ll leave you with two important things to remember:

  • As much as being fired or laid off sucks, it happens to the best employees around and is fairly common. It doesn’t mean you are less of a person. And often, getting fired or laid off leads to better opportunities. 
  • And if you find yourself more paranoid or anxious for no obvious reason, then it’s time to focus on boosting your confidence. Trust your skills, experiences, and effectiveness as a great employee. 
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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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