"A layoff can come for many reasons, such as a merger or spin-off or economic changes. Most workers will detect some warning signs, such as seeing a manager's office doors closed more often and having formerly positive feedback on job performance suddenly turn negative, [independent IBM consultant Jamie] Giovanetto said. Memos outlining new cost-saving initiatives or "stupid cost-cutting" measures, such as reducing office supplies, are another tip-off, he said. He recommends reading a company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as well as networking with customers and competitors who may have insights. Avoiding a layoff requires you to give the best you can on the job, but even little things can make a difference, Giovanetto said. Working at becoming a subject-matter expert and keeping a clean, organized and professional-looking work space may lead to better assignments. "It's just an appearance thing, but it does pay benefits," he said.
The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.