Beware the Job Terminator

Pat Mathews is a woman not too many people want to see stalking around the office.

People call her the "terminator" and "head-chopper." And she has earned the nicknames.

Mathews, a human resources consultant, has played a part in the layoffs of literally thousands of people over her career and has personally fired hundreds.

And after doing it so many times, Mathews has learned to avoid the firing mistakes many employers make, like firing through text message or ignoring employees immediately after giving them the bad news.

"I try to put myself in the place of the person whom I'm terminating," Mathews told "Good Morning America." "They have to leave the room with some self-respect and some self-confidence. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to find another job."

Pat MathewsPlay

She has also picked up on some clues employees should look for to know if they might be next on the chopping block, like a lack of assignments, a boss that is constantly in meetings or, worse yet, a boss that will not look the employee in the eye.

According to workplace correspondent Tory Johnson, there are certain steps employees can take to help avoid getting the axe.

"Now is not the time to bury your head and hope for the best," Johnson said. "Be visible. Talk to your boss. Find out what's going on."

Johnson also suggested making sure you take part in tasks that are beyond your normal job description.

"It's often the utility player, the person who can do three jobs, that won't get the axe," she said.

If a layoff is unavoidable, Johnson said there are some practical matters to take care of before heading to the exit.

"Find out what kind of severance package, what kind of money you're going to be getting," she said. "Ask for out-placement services. Many companies will offer it to you and have already arranged that package. Having that additional assistance to help you with future job placement will be valuable."

For more information and career advice, check out Tory's Job Club.