Firing Line: Can Your Job be Saved?

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If you see signs your employer may want to show you the door, what are the chances of your boss making an about face?

Often, but not always, an employee's fate is sealed by the time the first clues there's a problem on the job materialize.

'It depends on the reason you're being fired,' says Lee E. Miller, a former employment lawyer and managing director of NegotiationPlus.com, who conducts negotiating workshops at firms such as Bear Stearns, Citigroup and HSBC. 'Is it performance? Economic cutbacks? A personality issue with your boss?'

If it's an economic crunch, duck. 'Sometimes you want to take a lower profile, especially if firms are looking for places to cut,' says Miller. 'If no one up high sees you, work hard and keep your head down.'

The delivery of your annual review-or your bonus check-offers a particularly good opening for addressing in a roundabout way personality issues with a superior. Miller advises saying something like, 'What can I do to help you? What are the three things I need to do this year that are really going to have an impact for you?'

Whatever the reason for your reversal in fortune, try getting involved in something that would make it very difficult to fire you at that moment.

For example, don't rush to finish an important project. Or try to get it expanded beyond its original scope. In doing so, you may re-establish yourself to your superiors or simply buy time to find another job elsewhere. After all, it's usually easier to find a job when you already have one.

In the case of a personality conflict with a superior who is not well liked, says Miller, 'Sometimes, if you can just manage to hang on long enough, they'll get fired first.'

Read the first installment here: Firing Line: Are You Next to Walk?

tkrogers@efinancialcareers.com

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