Even though you need to work, sometimes you just have to say “no,” and either turn the job down or skip the application altogether.
Sometimes it’s a strange request from the employer, a bad vibe, or something odd about the job description that makes you go hmmm.
While we can’t tell you not to take a particular job, and every situation is different, we can alert you to some red flags you might encounter during that job search. Here are 12 signs that you probably shouldn’t take the job.
You can’t find much information about the company. This one comes up even before the interview. If you’ve Googled the company and there is no website or LinkedIn company page, and basically no information available, this is a major red flag. Who doesn’t have a website these days? Social media accounts? A web presence? Usually, someone who doesn’t exist, or who is super sketchy.
Bad reviews from current or former employees. You can view reviews of a company by its current and former employees at Glassdoor. This will give you a good idea of what it’s like to work there. A bad rating is a big red flag.
High turnover. It’s not always easy to find out about company turnover. But here’s a tip: Find the company on LinkedIn and click to view employees. You can then change the settings in the search to view only former employees by unchecking the company under “current company” and checking it under “past company.” Check the tenures of those employees. If they’re all short: beware.
They ask you for money. Under no circumstances should a potential employer ask you for money. If you’re hired, you may be expected to pay for a uniform or supplies, or even your own training in some cases. But to get the job? Never.
They ask to hold your passport. This should be an obvious BIG RED FLAG but it happens, particularly in places like Asia and the Middle East. In Dubai, even though it’s illegal to do so, a friend of mine was asked to hand over his passport for a job (he didn’t). Never give anyone your passport, and if you find a job overseas and they ask for it, run. (This one isn’t a “probably;” this is a DO NOT DO. End of story.)
Unpaid trial shifts. This is apparently an increasingly common ask from employers in the hospitality and service sector; you work for a whole day or more, and they don’t pay you because it was a “test” or “training.” While I wouldn’t tell you to never do work on spec or good faith (I certainly have), you should not be giving entire days of your time for free, except to a charity. Any company that asks you to is one you don’t want to work for.
No opportunities for advancement. Look around to see if there is a way to climb the ladder and if there isn’t, ask yourself if you want to spend a year or two in a dead end. Maybe you do, just for the experience or paycheque, but know that you’ll eventually have to move on to move up.
Unclear, shifting, or just plain crazy job description. If you can’t figure out exactly what the job is, that’s not good. Granted, at some small companies, one person might be expected to wear a few hats. But if you’re expected to be a salesperson, marketer, web designer, office manager, receptionist, and bookkeeper, this company might not know what it’s doing. Ditto for a crazy list of duties no one person could possibly perform alone.
They want to hire you on the spot. Are you that awesome? It’s almost unheard of for a reputable company to offer a job on the spot. These things need consideration and have to go through channels, departments, boards, and what have you. This move is either desperate or shifty in most cases, but something is up.
You don’t like the interviewer. If the interviewer is late, rude, or in any way disrespectful towards you, that’s not a good sign. The interview is when everyone, including the employer, is on their best behaviour. It’s only going to get worse from there. And if you just don’t like the interviewer, or your gut tells you something is off, keep in mind that this is who you will be working for if you take the job. Ask yourself if you can handle that. Also, be mindful of common lies employers tell candidates.
The position has been open for a long time or keeps getting reposted. You know when you see jobs online for months? What is going on there? It can’t be that hard to find someone. Or sometimes I see a job posting, then it comes down, then a month or two later it goes back up – then down, then up. Something is rotten in Denmark with this one. Either they’re impossible to please or they’re somehow driving people away. Proceed with caution.
Employer complains about their current team during the interview. Smack talking is bad under any circumstances. Smack talking by an employer is a very bad sign. They’re supposed to be trying to impress you. If that’s how they do it, that’s a problem. And soon they will be smack talking you.
What red flags do you watch for? Let us know if we missed something!