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"How To See The Signs Of Layoffs": This Woman Shared How She Knew Her Company Was Going To Cut Staff, And It's A Must-Read

"How did I know my company was going to be going through rounds of layoffs two months before they were actually announced? And how can you take a look at these warning signs and see the writing on the wall too? Let's get into it."

Layoffs were all over the headlines in August, as companies from many different sectors (Bed Bath & Beyond, Ford, Apple, and HBO Max, for example) announced that they were reducing their staff. And with talk of a potential recession, it's possible that more layoffs could be on the way.

woman packing up her desk

So when 26-year-old Eve Pena shared a TikTok explaining how she spotted layoffs coming at her company before they were even announced, it got a lot of attention. Eve, who told BuzzFeed that she’s been working for nine years in a variety of admin and HR roles, including as an executive assistant to CEOs, starts the clip by saying, "How did I know my company was going to be going through rounds of layoffs two months before they were actually announced? And how can you take a look at these warning signs and see the writing on the wall too? Let's get into it."

She goes on to share four telltale signs that layoffs are coming. "One: Executive and senior leadership, even your managers, will start acting a little bit funny. Maybe they'll stop engaging with the team in ways that they usually would. Or maybe they'll start focusing on random things they don't usually, like they'll ask specific questions about budget."

eve talking to the camera

"Two: The company will start scrapping big dollar projects that they were really excited about a few months ago, to conserve money. Think office moves, renovations, hiring. Which leads me to number three: our company did a hiring freeze, in which they froze every single open role except for executive leadership."

woman leaving an office after being let go

"And bonus number four: you might start receiving feedback that is completely different than all the feedback you've ever received. And this might be to build a case to put you on the chopping block, because they can't say performance issues if there's not one."

And in the comments, people shared other layoff red flags they've experienced, including bathrooms being out of soap, vendors going unpaid, and bosses suddenly asking for everyone's login information.

As it turns out, Eve was 100% correct about layoffs coming to her company, and she shared in another video that she was unfortunately among those whose jobs were eliminated.

update your girl got laid off and is now at Ikea to numb the pain

Eve told BuzzFeed that her experience in HR and admin roles has taught her how to spot impending layoffs. "I also work exclusively for startups and quickly growing businesses. This particular layoff was the third corporate layoff I experienced, so I've been able to compile a pretty comprehensive list of warning signs."

And she says that looking back, there were even more signs that her company would be cutting staff. "I mentioned the biggest warning signs I could personally tell in my video, but here are a few others that made sense: When the company starts splitting hairs over which bills to pay. The company may start going into debt with companies like internet providers, electricity companies, or even with their own office rent. Cleaning people start cutting corners in a way they didn’t before. Maybe folks will notice lower grade kitchen or restroom supplies, or the sweeping/desk cleaning frequency might become less. Maybe the office plants start dying — bad sign!"

She also pointed out a couple of red flags that are a bit more specific to the start-up companies she typically works for. "When they tell you, 'We’re a startup, but with money!' It’s a common thing startup folks say to out-level other growing businesses. But all the companies I’ve heard say this have had layoffs. This mentality can often lead to irresponsible spending upfront with regrets later on."

person on their computer

Rapid growth can also lead to cuts, Eve says. "Headcount doubling, or tripling in the span of a few months. Nothing wrong with growth, but where many companies get tripped up is that they go from 20 to 40 seamlessly, then try to go from 100 to 200 the same way. This is all due to lack of experience within leadership. And doubling headcount in three months is not usually sustainable for ANY business unless demand is equally as high and is maintained."

two people in a conference room

Eve also has advice for anyone who's reading this article, looking around their office, and thinking, Well, this is happening. "Honestly, just run. Look for another job. You can’t prevent the layoffs so it’s best to save yourself!" But before you go, she suggests, "Try to get a title change or promotion that you can then market elsewhere. That’s just a conversation with your manager if you’ve been career mapping already and have been killing it."

Or, if you don't want to leave, "Try to be put on business critical-projects. This might increase your chances of staying due to the value your role directly adds. You might also want to connect with your manager if you notice some of these warning signs. They might not tell you what they know, but their reactions might tell you everything you need to know! Some folks might prefer to stay just to collect severance. If your company is notoriously generous, that might be an option!"

woman talking with her boss

Going through layoffs is certainly no fun (just ask the crying CEO), but hopefully knowing the warning signs can help you make a plan if it's looking like your company might be cutting jobs soon. Whether that means refreshing your résumé and looking for new opportunities or making your role indispensable, keeping your eyes peeled for layoff red flags is always a good idea.

Have you been through layoffs before? Share the red flags you wish you'd noticed sooner in the comments!