TODAY'S LIST: Seven signs you're about to get fired

The only thing worse than getting fired is not seeing it coming. If you know what's up, at least you can try to find something else first. Here's a list of seven clues that someone is thinking of getting rid of you:

1. Your level of responsibility has gone down. If you used to get trusted with the big stuff, and now you have nothing but free time, that's not a reward. It probably means they want to get used to doing without you.

2. The boss is avoiding you. It's a sign of guilt. But there could be other explanations, so ask for some feedback before you do something to make it worse.

3. You've been disciplined recently. If it happens once, you're usually all right as long as you shape up. But after the second time, you could be on your way out.

4. A robot can do your job. If it's possible to automate the work you do, it's only a matter of time before the company WILL automate it. It's basically always cheaper in the long run to have a machine do the work instead of you.

5. The company doesn't pay for your professional development. If you used to go to conferences or luncheons on company time, and now they don't let you do it, it could mean that they don't want to invest in you anymore.

6. Your company was just bought out. They always tell you that no one's getting fired. Then they casually ask you to show one of their managers what you do . . . and then one of their people is taking over your job.

7. You've been asked to create a job description for your position. Not always, but a lot of the time this means someone is trying to decide which employees are expendable.

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