Career Advice

Ghosts in the Hallways

A friend recently asked if it was time for them to start looking for another job.  Before I could answer, I probed to understand the motivation of the question. Among many things, what I heard was that this person had a “haunting feeling” that things weren’t going well and they feared being laid off.  As we talked more I tried to discern if these ghosts in the hallways were real or not.  Here are a few ghosts, some obvious and some subtle, that could be a sign that things in your future are about to change:

  • My boss is constantly canceling our one-on-one meetings. There will always be a legitimate excuse, but if this persists, then heads up as the boss is avoiding you for a reason.  Likely, she/he doesn’t want to look you in the eye and have you see that something has changed between you.

  • My to-do list is emptying. One day you look at your to-do list and it is full of assignments and deadlines.  The next day you realize that all of your deadlines and work is self-imposed and no one is asking you to take on more.  First order of action would be to volunteer and see if the withholding is on purpose or not.

  • My peers are moving me out of the clique. Even though they shouldn’t, chances are that your manager has confided in others on the team that ‘change’ is coming and that they will have to pick up your slack as their next go-to person.  If your peers start hanging out and doing things in groups without you, then it could be an early warning sign.

  • “Let’s put off that trip for now”. It may be the same conference you have gone to every year, but this year you have been asked to not go and to also cut back on travel and other expenses.  This could well be a legitimate economic trimming, but if you find out that Eddie and the gang are still traveling and you aren’t then, hmmm.

  • HR disappeared. You always had a good relationship with your HR Manager, but lately, they are nowhere to be seen.  You start to get email responses or voicemails from them versus the “stop by and chat” like they used to do.  Could be that they are busy, but just as likely, they know what is coming down and are avoiding you like the plague.

  • Wow, I am getting lots of headhunter calls! The best of the best in HR know that having you get another great job that will cause you to resign rather than being asked to leave is best for all.  The networks work both ways and the staffing departments can also be great at outplacement. There have been many smooth transitions where no one knew what hit them.

Before you go into a panic because you see all these ghosts too, recognize that this is also like reading yesterday’s horoscope where you believe it fits  together but then later realize that perhaps not all the signs were meant for you.  If you have doubts and are seeing ghosts, then force a conversation with your boss and HR to determine what is real and what isn’t.  If you are worried and concerned that you should be looking for another job, tell them that.  Be honest and expect honesty back. In most cases, you will receive what you give and from there you can make the right plans.