Quiet Firing: What It Is and What to Do About It, with Trevor Houston

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Quiet quitting has been in the news recently, but are you familiar with quiet firing? According to Find Your Dream Job guest Trevor Houston, quiet firing is what happens when a company treats you poorly in hopes that you will quit rather than them firing you outright. Are you being ignored at work? Has it been a while since you got a raise? Do you tend to get the worst projects or ones that don’t use your skillset? If so, Trevor has advice on how to handle it, as well as how to know when to leave the company and when to stay and work for change. 

About Our Guest:

Trevor Houston is the host of the  Who Ya Know Show, a career advice podcast.

Resources in This Episode:


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 384:

Quiet Firing: What It Is and What to Do About It, with Trevor Houston

Airdate: February 1, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

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Does your boss ignore your ideas, neglect to invite you to meetings, or give you little or no feedback? 

These might be signs that your employer has decided to let you go.  

Trevor Houston is here to talk about quiet firing, what it is, and what you can do about it. 

He’s the host of the Who Ya Know Show, a career advice podcast. 

Trevor is also the founder and CEO of ClearPath Wealth Strategies. 

He joins us from Dallas, Texas. 

Well, let’s get started, Trevor. We’re talking about quiet firing, what it is, how to know if it’s happening to you, and what you can do about it. Let’s start with the definition. What is quiet firing? 

Trevor Houston:

You know quiet firing is a term that they’re using; I mean, I think they’re just labeling it now. But it’s essentially where your manager or your, you know, supervisor, or the company is starting to ignore you, and they’re hoping that you leave and that you quit on your own. And so, this way, they avoid having to pay you any kind of, like, severance or any kind of benefits on the way out. 

And so, right now, as we head into, you know, a potential recession and things like that, you know, companies are trying to figure out ways to trim the fat, okay. It’s all about looking at profit and loss and, you know, looking at their P&L statements and just balancing out the books, and if they can make people quit on their own, and we’re starting to see this is happening a lot with older workers, as well, because older workers tend to make more money. 

So, it’s really companies neglecting employees in hopes that they just leave. 

Mac Prichard:

Is it legal to do this, Trevor? 

Trevor Houston:

Definitely not. You know, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. It’s just something that we’re seeing, and it’s been what I call ageism. Right? And ageism is what I call payism. Right? And, you know, the older worker tends to make more money, and so, if we can figure out a way for a company, if they’re figuring out a way to get these employees to leave on their own, well, they’re just kind of balancing out the books, again. 

But no. It’s definitely not legal. 

Mac Prichard:

Does this happen only to older workers? Or can it happen to you no matter what age group you’re in? 

Trevor Houston:

It can happen no matter what age you are. I will say that, you know, through the pandemic and quiet quitting, which is a different term where people are doing less and less and less and expecting companies to do more and more and more. Companies are also looking at it as a way to get rid of difficult employees. Right? 

So, it’s not just at older workers, but they’re looking at, hey, listen, you’ve been kind of difficult. You know, you have really, really high expectations, or you’re acting entitled, or, you know, you’re just not the ideal employee. We’re seeing it happen for those folks, too.

So, instead of, it’s almost the opposite of quiet quitting, where the employee does less and less and less. It’s now the employer doing less and less and less, and they start to ignore you. Maybe they don’t give you any feedback in your meetings, and they start to avoid you. You know, your ideas are being discarded. They just really, you know, kind of put, you know, they fan out the flame. Let’s put it that way, and you start to just get disconnected, and, you know, you quit. So, we’re starting to see that a lot. 

Mac Prichard:

I want to talk about some of the other signs of quiet firing and how it might be happening to you. But before we do that, Trevor, is this a new trend? Or is this something that’s been happening for a long time? 

Trevor Houston:

I think it’s been happening for a long time. We’re in a day and age where we like to label things, you know, great resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing, I mean, there’s always this new trending, you know, topic or label. It’s always happened. It’s just they’re really starting to label it, and you know, it’s a headline. Right? It’s a headline for news stories, and, you know, I’ve been featured several times on this topic, and it’s just, it’s a headline. So, it’s catchy, and yeah. But it’s been happening for years. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about the signs of quiet firing and whether or not it might be happening to you. You mentioned a boss not inviting you to meetings, perhaps, ignoring your ideas. What are some of the other signs that you might be in the process of being quietly fired? 

Trevor Houston:

Yeah, maybe you haven’t got an increase in your salary in a few years. Right? You’ve just been kind of, you kind of hit that glass ceiling if you will. You’re not getting any feedback, or they’re avoiding you, or maybe they’re singling you out in meetings or making you answer tough questions in front of your colleagues. Right? And really almost embarrassing you. You know, discarding your ideas. 

You know, really just making you feel like you’re not wanted, that you don’t belong, and it’s really, it’s hard. I mean, I know I have felt that way at companies in the past, and, you know, it’s some of these reasons are why I left a company in the past, and, you know, it’s tough when you feel like you don’t belong somewhere, you feel like you don’t fit in. Nothing will eat at you like that, even if the money’s good, even if you love what you do, if you feel like you don’t belong. Right? You don’t fit in, like, that’s gonna be hard, and you’ll probably just end up leaving on your own. 

Mac Prichard:

How long does it typically take to quietly fire someone? 

Trevor Houston:

That’s a good question. I don’t have the exact answer on that one. I don’t know the stats on it. I know for me, my personal experience, it took a few years, you know, resilience. Right? I’m a pretty resilient person, so it wasn’t something that just happens overnight. It kind of compounds over time, and again, you start to just feel like, hey, I don’t belong here. 

I’ve hit this glass ceiling, and there’s no way for me to move up without somebody letting me to that next level and opening the door to the next level. But that person who has the keys, they’re not responding to you. They’re avoiding you. They’re looking the other way, you know. 

And so, you start to go, man, I have no opportunity here. There’s no growth here, and it takes time. It does take time. It’s not an overnight thing. But, you know, if they make you feel like you don’t fit in, you’ll probably end up leaving. 

Mac Prichard:

If it’s just beginning to happen, where you’re starting to see these signs, but maybe you haven’t seen them in the past, what’s a good way to do a reality check, Trevor? To confirm that you’re not misunderstanding your boss, but to actually confirm that you may be in the process of being quietly fired. 

Trevor Houston:

Yeah, I would talk to somebody. Get some feedback, and, you know, talk to some other employees, as well, to try to get an understanding of their experience. Like, is it just you? Is this just happening to you? Or is this happening around, you know, to multiple people?


Because I mean, let’s just be real about it. I mean, it could be, you know, perception is reality, and it could be your perception is wrong. But in your mind, it’s correct. So you need to get some feedback. You need to understand, like, hey, is this really happening? 

You know, and you’ll know. You’ll know. Once you talk to a few people, maybe, you know, hopefully, you can talk to your manager. Right? And get feedback from them as well. But, again, if you’re reaching out to your manager and they’re avoiding you. Right? That’s a red flag. Right? 

If you’re trying to bring up these concerns like, hey, I’ve noticed some changes. Hey, I’ve noticed, you know, a few things going on in the office, and you go to talk to your manager about it, and they just completely ignore you, or they ghost you. I’ve had opportunities in companies where, literally, I was ghosted by my own company. Where I reached out in emails and phone calls that got ignored. Right? 

And I’m not talking, I got ignored once. I followed up multiple times. Hey, what’s going on? Followed up, followed up, followed up. I’ve had times where the communication was ignored for years. And what does that do to you? Right? Communication is the basis of any strong relationship. Right? It’s the foundation. When the communication breaks down, you know, trust breaks down, the relationships break down, everything breaks. It just falls apart. 

And so, if you’re reaching out to your manager or, you know, people in your company HR, you’re reaching out, and they’re avoiding you, ignoring you, like, that’s a huge red flag. 

Mac Prichard:

Trevor, we’re gonna take a break. I want to continue this conversation. Stay with us. When we return, Trevor Houston will continue to share his advice on quiet firing, what it is, and what to do about it. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Trevor Houston.

He’s the host of the Who Ya Know Show, a career advice podcast.

Trevor is also the founder and CEO of ClearPath Wealth Strategies. 

He joins us from Dallas, Texas. 

Now, Trevor, before the break, we were talking about quiet firing, what it is, and what you can do about it, and you took us through defining quiet firing, how to know if it might be happening to you, how to check with colleagues just to make sure, as well as with your manager. And now, let’s talk about what you should do if you are, in fact, being quietly fired. 

Trevor, should you even try to stay at the company if this is happening to you? 

Trevor Houston:

That’s such a great question, and, you know, there’s a lot of variables that could determine my definitive answer to that question because it could be a case of, where, if you can wait it out. Right? If you can wait it out, maybe you see new management, new blood come into the company, and that could be all it takes, you know. 

When you’re talking about work, it’s all about the people. Right? And they can shape your experience in a company. And so, if you feel like there is no possible way, like, this is impossible because of this certain person. I can’t elevate. I’m being ignored. All of these things are happening to you, and you don’t see a way out, definitely start looking. At least get your resume out there, and let’s start, you know, getting your feelers out there. 

Because, ultimately, life is short, and you need to be respected. You need to be appreciated. You need to be valued. You know, you need to be paid what you’re worth, and you need to be appreciated by the company that you’re putting your work in and dedicating your life to, and if they’re not appreciating you, you know what, somebody is. Somebody will. There’s a place for you. 

But I wouldn’t say just jump ship right immediately. Start making sure that you have your ducks, you know, lined up, you know, your ducks in a row. Make sure that you get things lined up properly before you just jump ship, and if that means elevating your skill set, if that means, you know, going out and getting new designations; whatever you need to do to sharpen up the toolbox, just a little bit. 

But, you know, I think that’s a personal question that you really need to sit down and evaluate. Is this something that I can live with? Is this something that is just really, you know, boiling my blood, and I gotta go? 

Mac Prichard:

What questions have you seen the people you work with address and consider when they’re making that decision? Because it’s a big decision. You don’t want to dwell on it. You want to have a process for making that choice. What have you seen work? 

Trevor Houston:

Yeah, it’s about evaluating. Like, sitting down, pen and pad, and asking yourself what’s important to you. Right? What is important to you? Because for everybody, it’s a little bit different, you know, and as you grow throughout your career journey, it will change. 

But let’s just say, when I was in my twenties, it was all about the money. It was all about the Benjamins, okay? As I grew into my thirties, it became more about impact. Right? It was about how much impact can I make with this company?

And I think as you grow through your career journey, your motivation for the work that you do is going to change. It could be at a certain point that it’s work-life balance. That you’re able to, you know, balance the work that you do and spend the time with your family. Or maybe it’s travel. Maybe it’s, you know, being able to not be tied down to a certain location. 

Again, these things are gonna vary from person to person, but you really should sit down and think about what is important. Is it the benefits? Maybe it’s, you know, having a good suite of benefits from the company that you’re with. But all of that goes out the window if you’re being mistreated. Right? I mean, it really is. 

I mean, I’ve had jobs where I made a lot of money, but I was being mistreated. Right? I was being mistreated, and listen. I’m not gonna be disrespected. Okay? And that was just a case for me. I was like, you know what, here my potential is not being appreciated, and it’s not being maximized. So I’ve gotta go, and I did. I’ve left companies in the past. 

I mean, I’ve got a specific story that I remember asking after six years in the auto industry. I was in the auto industry for six years, top producer. And I remember looking at my GM, and he didn’t like me, and I was already two feet out of the company. I was already on my way out. But there was this opportunity that came up, and I remember asking him specifically. I said, hey, here’s this management opportunity. We talked about it two years ago, and it didn’t work out then. But I’m curious, what are your thoughts now? What do you think now? And he said, well, that’s the funny part, is I’ve got ninety days to decide. So, you know, we’ll see after ninety days, and that really, when he said that to me, that’s all I needed to hear because I told him, I said, hey if you don’t know after six years, you definitely won’t know after ninety days. So, I appreciate your time. Right? I already knew that he wasn’t going to let me. He was going to promote somebody from outside in. 

But, you know, identify those things. Like, is there a glass ceiling where you’re at? You know, are you being appreciated? Are you being respected? If not, it’s probably time to make a change. 

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about making that change, Trevor. What steps do you recommend after you’ve gone through that process? You’ve decided, okay, it’s not working. I don’t see a path forward at this company. Now, I’m going to look elsewhere. What do you do next? 

You mentioned some steps like paying attention to your resume, sharpening your skills. What other steps do you recommend someone take when they’re being quietly fired, and they want to leave? 

Trevor Houston:

Yeah, the first thing that I would do is look at my LinkedIn profile. Now, hopefully, this is something I teach. Hopefully, you have been keeping your network strong and building relationships and connecting with folks, you know, and positioning yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn. 

Like, one of the things that I think a big mistake that job seekers make is they only do these things when they need a job, you know, and so, then all of a sudden, they need a job. Something like this happens where they’re, you know, being quietly fired, and they go out there, and they’re like, okay, now I need to get my resume. Now I need to get my LinkedIn profile. Now I need to start connecting and building relationships. 

Well, if you’ve done it that way, you have no momentum, and it’s gonna be a little bit of an uphill battle, and I recommend that people are just proactive. Like, proactively be searching all the time, building your network all the time, you know, updating your LinkedIn profile all the time. Don’t stop doing that, you know, and I think that will help you. 

I’ve got a client that I’m helping, and listen, during the pandemic, it took him like eighteen months, okay. He finally got with me, and we turned that thing around real quick. In a couple of months, he got landed, and then two years later, he’s back in a career search, but he didn’t stop. 

He continued to network, build relationships, connect, started creating content on LinkedIn to position himself as a thought leader. And he did that for a few years, and now he’s back in the career search, but he’s got opportunities coming to him. He’s not even having to apply to jobs. They’re literally finding him because he built momentum, and he’s actually getting millions of views on his LinkedIn profile because of what we’ve taught him. 

And so, like, again, I wouldn’t wait till it’s too late. Right? Don’t wait till it’s too late. Continue to do this stuff. Be proactive about your career. Right? Your career journey. That’s some advice that I would give to any job seeker, any person, actually. Whether they’re working or not is, keep your skillset fresh and always be networking, always be building relationships, and keep your LinkedIn profile optimized, and put some content out there to showcase to the world the problem that you solve for a company and why you’re the thought leader. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, Trevor, it’s been a terrific conversation. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Trevor Houston:

Well, you know, we’ve got this Career Transition Summit where I teach a lot of this stuff. There’s some strategies; one of them is called the job search trojan horse, and I was actually featured on Forbes for that. And it basically helps people to get out of the black hole, get noticed, and really infiltrate into the company that they’re applying to and command the attention of the recruiters and the hiring managers because that can be a pretty tough one. And so we show them a strategy inside this career transition summit, and I would recommend for people to come connect with me over there and come check it out. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I know listeners can learn more about you and the summit, and your company’s services by visiting the link tree for your company and that is linktree/whoyaknow and we’ll be sure to include that in the show notes as well, and you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and if listeners do reach out to you, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Trevor, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about quiet firing, what it is, and what you can do about it? 

Trevor Houston:

Yeah, I would say, know your worth. Right? And don’t let a company put out your light. Right? That’s what this quiet firing is. They’re trying to put out your light. Don’t let it happen. Right? And if you can’t be who you are supposed to be at that company, you need to proactively be making steps to get out. Okay? And know your worth. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Rob Kim.

He’s a career strategist at the University of British Columbia.  

Rob is passionate about all things related to careers. And he was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in 2022. 

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That’s a mistake, says Rob. Even the most casual of acquaintances can make a huge difference when you look for work. 

Join us next Wednesday when Rob Kim and I talk about why weak links matter in your job search and how to use them. 

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