The other day, a friend forwarded me a job posting he saw that offered mediocre pay and no benefits, and we both expressed our disbelief at what some companies expected people to do for very little in return.
I went back to work, and then after thinking about it for another moment, sent my friend another email: “Wait, are you thinking about quitting your job?”
He replied that, indeed, he was. There are tell-tale signs that the company might be going under, he said. He was looking to jump ship before the ship actually sunk.
Getting ahead before you’re forced out and left scrambling for a new job and unemployment benefits is, obviously, a smart thing to do. The only problem is, how do you know if your company is going under if you’re not in a high enough position to have all the facts in front of you?
My friend’s tell-tale sign: He was working without a supervisor, and was told that a temporary supervisor would fill the position in the coming weeks. Reorganization and restructuring is one of many signs that it might be time to leave, according to an article by U.S. News & World Report. Others include paying service providers late, hiring freezes, high turnover, too many closed-door meetings, and a toxic work environment.
At a previous job I had, the tell-tale sign that I needed to start looking for a new job was an obvious one: The company brought in two efficiency experts into the office to figure out exactly who was doing what, or, more importantly, who wasn’t really doing much of anything and should be let go.
We weren’t actually told that the man and woman who visited the office over the course of a week were efficiency experts. Instead, we were simply told they were consultants, and not to question it. It was hard not to question it, though, because the consultants asked a few random employees to meet in the conference room with them, and we interrogated these coworkers during lunch, or at the bar after work, about what they had discussed. It became instantly clear to us that the consultants were actually efficiency experts, and that something was going to happen soon. Most of us had seen Office Space, so we knew what was up. A few us starting looking for new jobs. About a month or so later, 70 percent of the staff was let go.
This was during the recession, so it didn’t really come as much of a surprise. We were another story on top of a stack of other stories about the economic downturn. Everyone went on to do better things, and we learned that severance is an important thing to ask for when negotiating salary and benefits.