4 Mistakes to Avoid When Layoffs Are Coming

By LiveCareer

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Sometimes there are clear signs that the company you are working for is gearing up for layoffs; other times, your spidey senses just start tingling, and you aren’t sure why. Whether you are working off fact or pure intuition, wondering whether you are about to lose your job is a terrible feeling.

When one part of your life feels out of control, the best defence is to manage the things you can. Part of that is avoiding some common layoff mistakes people make when the scent of layoffs becomes a reality. While you likely can’t change the course your company is on, you can avoid these missteps to make sure you come out intact on the other end.

First, here are seven signs that layoffs may be coming to a desk near you:

  1. The company’s flagship product or service is flailing.
    If one of the organization’s main offerings isn’t performing up to par, start writing your resume, even if you aren’t directly involved in its lack of success.

  2. Management is acting cagey.
    If you’re accustomed to working in an environment with a lot of transparency, and suddenly the flow of information has turned into a trickle, it may be a sign of trouble.

  3. The higher-ups are locked behind closed door much more than usual. Depending on the size of the organization you work for, the decision about whether layoffs are required – and who will get the axe – can take several days to several weeks. Keep an eye out for long, unexplained meetings, or conference rooms what are booked out by HR for days at a time.

  4. The company mole starts packing her desk.
    Every company has at least one employee who inexplicably knows everything. If you have suspicions about layoffs being in the works, keep an eye on this employee. If she starts slowly packing up her desk, including that Mom of the Year mug, you might be in trouble.

  5. The extras become less-than.
    Have you noticed that the snack selection at work has been dwindling in recent months? Or that the monthly cocktail hour hasn’t happened in a while? When the perks are cut and discretionary spending is reeled in, it could be an indicator that layoffs are likely.

  6. You are asked to outline your role and responsibilities.
    Often when executives are considering layoffs, they start by considering how to trim the fat. This means eliminating redundant roles or employees who haven’t kept their skillset current. If HR calls a meeting to discuss the details of your current role, read the handwriting on the wall: you likely aren’t about to be promoted.

  7. Executives are talking about restructuring

Don’t be fooled by the semantics. While every company goes through some sort of reorganization of teams and systems as it matures, often during a downturn in the economy or a company’s own financial performance, “restructuring” is code for layoffs.

4 Layoff Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve read the writing on the wall and are now relatively confident that your gut is correct: layoffs are looming. Now what? The following are a list of common mistakes people make when downsizing is upon them. Learn from the mistakes of others, and you’ll be ahead of the game once the dust settles.


Mistake 1: Being an alarmist
Level heads prevail in layoff situations. You might not be able to keep your job, but you can keep your head held high. While it isn’t smart to put your head in the sand and pretend nothing is amiss, you also shouldn’t panic or stop doing your work. Crying in the bathroom or taking three-martini lunches because you are sure you are about to be fired could actually seal your fate.


The powers that be are watching right now. Continue showing up for work and completing your day-to-day tasks to the best of your ability. Stay calm. Don’t spread gossip. Don’t check out.

There is a small chance that keeping your head down and continuing to produce good work could save your job. There is a 100 percent chance that doing so will help you get a good reference if and when you have to find a new job. Don’t squander that resource.

Mistake 2: Trashing your employer
Layoffs are stressful, and you want someone to blame. In the privacy of your own home, it’s fine to rant about all of the mistakes your employer has made that led to these impending layoffs, but it should stop there.


Never air your dirty laundry at the office and never vent about work on social media. Again, one of these days you may need a reference from your company and saying nasty things about them online or IRL won’t help you procure one. You are entitled to feel how you feel but keep it to yourself, at least until the things have settled down and you have a new job.

Mistake 3: Forgetting about networking
When your job is at risk, it’s easy to go into survival mode and forgo industry events and other extracurriculars. But when you are facing a layoff, these are precisely the types of gatherings you want to show up at with bells on. If you feel that there is a potential for a reorganization at your organization, start revving the engines on networking.


Make it a point to start interacting with former colleagues and industry associates on LinkedIn. Go to that professional mixer and attend that lecture. While you shouldn’t be putting out SOS calls until you know how the chips will fall, rubbing elbows with people in your industry will make it a much smoother conversation if and when you do need to ask for their help or connections in a job search.

Mistake 4: Getting caught without a resume
Word spread quickly in the world of work. If layoffs are on the horizon, chances are that the executives at other companies have caught wind of it and are ready to pounce on available talent. Always have an updated resume at-the-ready so that you can quickly respond to recruiters’ inquiries or to connections who want to refer you for a job.

About the Author:

LiveCareer has been helping job seekers build stronger resumes and cover letters
since 2005. Access a wide variety of resume templates to work from, or put our
resume builder to use, and get step-by-step assistance in constructing a top-notch
resume in no time at all.

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