Red Flags to Watch for When You Evaluate a Job
As you're discussing a job with a recruiter, remember it's a two-way street. Not only do they
want to determine if your background matches what they're looking for, you should be
evaluating them to see if they're a match for you! So what criteria should you look at when
you're considering a job? Here are some of the easier ones.
If you’re taking a reduction in pay, it may seem acceptable right
now if you're desperate for a new job, but the reality will set in
quickly when you have to struggle to survive on a smaller
paycheck. Be careful.
Do you have mass transit available to get to your destination?
Do you own a dependable vehicle? How far of a drive is it? In
some metropolitan communities, distance and location are
important criteria because of the congested roadways. Another
factor in some parts of the country is the winter; what could
otherwise be a short drive can be doubled or tripled with a good
snowfall. Consider all aspects of your commute. In fact, if you’re
in the final stages of considering a particular job, it’s a good idea
to commute to their facility both morning and afternoon to see if
you'd experience a rush hour, or some other challenging trans-
Benefits packages range from nonexistent to very extensive, and everywhere in between.
Today, with our very tough economy, some candidates are happy to get just a medical
insurance package, but still, you should evaluate the entire package to determine if it will be
acceptable to you beyond just the short term.
Here are some of the tougher aspects of an employment opportunity to judge:
Companies vary from one to the next in their ‘culture’; some are very casual, while others are
very ‘corporate’ with a highly structured environment. Some places are friendly, inspirational,
appreciative; some are not. You’ll be immersed in this culture all day every day, so make
sure it’s one in which you can feel comfortable, and find enjoyment and satisfaction.
When you visit an office to interview, make sure to observe the atmosphere you experience
there. Do people seem to genuinely enjoy being there? Do they smile and laugh and extend
courtesies to you? Do you see enthusiasm, or is it a dead zone where people are watching
the clock, just counting the minutes until they can leave? It could be there’s an overly critical,
unsupportive or uninspired management, one in which a person’s spirit is often killed.
Be sure to ask why the job is open that you’re applying for, and how long the previous
person was in that role. If that person was there for just a short time, ask why the person is
no longer there. If you see a pattern of failure in this position, it could be due to unrealistic
expectations, a lack of support by management, or some other reason that makes this
position or the company undesirable.
Very Quick Job Offer
If you’re offered a job in a time frame that your gut tells you was just too fast, be concerned
that this company has high turnover, and is desperate to hire more people. I once had a
conversation with a recruiter whose responsibility it was to hire customer service reps for a
major insurance company; they lose an average of 70 people per month, so she knew that’s
how many people she had to hire every month. To hire that many people she had to conduct
group interviews, and while there may be some exceptions to the concept of group inter-
views, for the most part you should run the other way if you ever learn this is what you’ll be
subjected to! In another case, a particular major international corporation has a very high
turnover rate on their production floor. A friend was a recruiter there, and while she didn’t
conduct mass interviews to find enough people, she did one-on-one interviews every day, all
day long, for about ten minutes each. She had to get the people in and out so fast to be able
to hire the sheer volume of people they needed each month. On the other hand, there are
also companies that don’t drag their feet in the recruiting process, and once they see a
person they want to bring on board they don’t hesitate; don’t confuse their quick response
with the mass-interview process of some companies.
Lack of Movement in This Position
If advancement in your career is important to you, make sure movement within this company
is possible. Depending on how important this is to you, ask for specific examples, such as the
growth in the career of the person you would report to. On the other hand, the vast majority
of people ask about opportunities for promotion when in fact it's not an important factor to
them; don't ask just for the sake of asking.
Lack of Rapport
If you get the sense that you wouldn’t be able to communicate and get along with your co-
workers or the person you would report to, then accepting the position could doom you to
It’s possible you may be offered a position that’s beyond you capabilities. If that’s the case,
be honest about your concerns; perhaps they know they would be putting you in over your
head, but they see a potential in you that they want to develop, and that they're willing to
educate you. On the other hand, this too could be setting you up for failure.
You may consider taking a step or two back in terms of responsibilities and salary to get a
foot in the door—and this may sometimes be a good strategy--but by setting yourself at a
lower pay grade, it may take a number of years to grow it back to your current level. This can
greatly change the trajectory of your career in a negative way.
It’s important to know about a company’s financial well-being before accepting a position, so
conducting research is a must. Accepting a position then getting laid off a short time later
takes the energy out of your job search, forcing you to pick up the pace once again to find a
company that’s secure. It also shows up as short-term employment on your resume. Find out
if they've had a history of recent layoffs.
Be careful with what job you accept, and don't set yourself up for failure. Your decision today
becomes part of your employment history, and will be used in the future by recruiters as they
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