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Recognizing the signs that you’re being pushed out of your job

November 21, 2022 - 13 min read


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What reasons do they have to let you go?

How do you know your boss wants to fire you?

Your boss wants you out. What now?

Is it better to be fired or to quit your job?

Your next move

If you’ve been working at your current company for a few years and have always had a good rapport with your boss, you’re probably confident in your job security. 

Until one day, the air in the office changes. Your boss starts taking work away from you, and it feels like you’re deliberately excluded from meetings. Your gut tells you something’s wrong, and you’re wondering if these are signs you’re being pushed out of your job.

Studies have found that 40% of Americans have been fired from a job before, meaning many of us know what it’s like. And when you feel like your boss wants you out, it often means they’re encouraging you to leave the company on your own. They might be thinking of firing you and hoping you’ll make it easy for them by leaving. 

These signs are hurtful. They don’t convey confidence in your skill set and abilities or respect from your manager. But what can you do about it? Learn why your boss would want to fire you, the signs that you’re being pushed out, and what to do if that’s the case.


What reasons do they have to let you go?

It’s tough to understand why your manager would want to let you go. But understanding the reason behind this sudden change in treatment helps when choosing the best next move. 

The rise in economic uncertainty has made the labor market a turbulent and unpredictable place, meaning it might not be your fault you’re being pushed out. But if you’ve been behaving inappropriately at work or have a bad relationship with your boss, it might be something you did.

Here are four reasons to review:

  1. Misconduct. Your coworkers deserve to feel safe at work. If you’ve participated in misconduct like sexual harassment or bullying, your manager has a clear reason to fire you. Even a joke that goes too far could get you in trouble. Inappropriate behavior creates a toxic work environment, and your boss wouldn’t want that.
  2. Poor performance. Your boss wants to see that you make meaningful contributions and help the company achieve its goals. Your performance review from the past month may reflect that you need to improve, but it could be too late.
  3. Layoffs. Your company could be struggling due to market trends or recessions, struggles that would force them to let people go. Layoffs might be temporary or permanent, and they likely don’t reflect poor performance.
  4. Insubordination. It’s one thing to offer different ideas and solutions, but disobeying clear instructions doesn’t make you a cherished employee. Refusing to do work and disrespecting those in leadership positions are enough for your boss to let you go.

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How do you know your boss wants to fire you?

When you spend plenty of time with the same people each day, you’ll notice even the slightest change in behavior. Subtle and not-so-subtle cues often indicate that your boss wants to fire you. One day they could be celebrating your triumphs, and the next, they won’t even respond to your messages. 

Learning these telltale signs will help with your reaction to the situation. You can prepare a response and a way forward. Plus, you might not be fully convinced that your boss wants to fire you — it might just be nagging anxiety or imposter syndrome

Here are five signs an employer wants you to quit or that you’re in danger of getting fired:


1. You’re being micromanaged

Being micromanaged means your boss hovers over your shoulder and watches your every move. This is often because they don’t trust that you’re capable of accomplishing your tasks properly. Micromanagement might make you feel self-conscious and doubtful of your abilities.

Think about how many times your boss used to check in on your progress before. Has it doubled or tripled recently? When they do reach out, are they asking general questions, or are they nit-picking your work?

2. Your workload has been reduced

Last month, you felt overwhelmed with your workload. Now, your tasks have been reduced by half. Having responsibilities taken away at work could mean that your team is preparing for your exit. And if you notice other coworkers taking on your responsibilities, that’s a bad sign. This could be a red flag that higher-ups are testing to see if your position is necessary or if they could lay you off to save money.

3. You’re excluded from important meetings

Did your boss forget to send the invite, or did they exclude you from an important meeting on purpose? Not inviting you to meetings or important conversations could suggest your boss doesn’t want you around. It demonstrates that they don’t value your opinion or ideas on projects or future tasks. 

4. You’re being ignored

Your coworkers thrive on collaborative work, and the environment has always felt engaging. But when you feel like you’re getting the silent treatment, your team might know you’re on your way out.

Pay attention to your conversations with your boss, and notice how long they spend engaging with you. It’s one thing to catch your boss when they’re busy, but it’s another if they continuously brush you off.

5. Your efforts aren’t recognized

Your wins should be celebrated and acknowledged. You don’t expect a parade every time you meet a deadline, but employee recognition is motivating because it makes you feel good about yourself and your abilities. Without any recognition, you may feel like your boss doesn’t appreciate your energy and effort or that they don’t care about your contributions.

Pay attention to whether or not coworkers receive recognition for similar work. If they do, it’s not just a show of favoritism but a sign that your accomplishments aren’t valued.


Your boss wants you out. What now?

You’ve noticed the warning signs that your boss is pushing you out — it’s time to talk about what to do when you’re being squeezed out at work. 

It might feel awkward or embarrassing learning how to ask your boss if your job is safe. Try writing out what you’d like to say before your talk. Prepare your speech ahead of time, and practice saying it to friends or to yourself in the mirror.

Taking the initiative to start a conversation with your boss or developing your own action plan for after you quit your job shows you’re prioritizing your well-being. You can feel confident knowing what your next steps will be.

Here are three tips if you know your boss is trying to squeeze you out but you want to keep your job:

  1. Have a conversation with your boss about your concerns and hear their perspective
  2. Reflect on your recent work and set goals to improve your work performance
  3. Study your industry for more knowledge and take classes to expand your skill set


Alternatively, your boss trying to push you out might be the final straw. If you were already thinking about moving on, here are three tips for finding a new role:

  1. Explore other career options and find a new job that furthers your professional development
  2. Don’t blame yourself for what happens, but view it as a learning experience
  3. Connect with people in your network for career advice

Is it better to be fired or to quit your job?

If you’ve realized that your boss doesn’t want you working at the company anymore, you have two options. The first is to stick it out and get fired, and the second is to quit. Deciding how to act if your boss wants to fire you is your call. There’s no right answer. 

Sticking it out and getting fired might feel like a precarious position. But studies have found that being fired from your job can be good for your career and isn’t as detrimental to future job prospects as you think.

It’s an opportunity to reflect on the skills you could improve on and what you learned in this role. You can then move forward with a better idea of how to chart a fulfilling career path.

The other option is to quit your job. There might be a turnover contagion at work, and you want to join the Great Resignation. Quitting means leaving on your own terms, and wanting to avoid being fired is a good reason to leave your job. But make sure you’ve thought your decision through. 


Whatever way you choose to react, remain professional. Think about your best interests and needs, but don’t forget to be respectable and mature. You might have great memories and long-lasting connections at your current job, so make sure to end your time there peacefully.

Your next move

Learning the signs you’re being pushed out of your job might help you find the answers needed to chart a clearer course for the future.

These signs might tell you to improve your work performance, adopt a better attitude, or have a direct conversation with your boss. But what matters is that being pushed out of your job doesn’t define your professional career.

It serves as a learning opportunity that spurs a new chapter in your professional development. And wherever you go next is definitely better than a work environment that doesn’t value your contributions.

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Published November 21, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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