12 Most Apparent Red Flags Every Working Stiff Ignores
Now that the economy is starting to (dare we say it?) get better, many of us will start to feel more comfortable about leaving our current job and exploring employment elsewhere.
And in typical “I don’t know where I want to be, but it sure as hell isn’t here” style… we ignore some red flags that warn us of impending danger — and a possible bad decision.
The fact is that from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, recruiters sometimes say what we want to hear — and we just buy in rather than recognize when every hair on the back of our necks stands up. Some of these issues can be worked out with a conversation or two with a boss, HR or a mentor. Some might mean a change in your expectations or environment. Others… could be deal-breakers.
Here, with the prerequisite “no particular order” disclaimer, are the 12 most common red flags you should look for as you consider a career change:
1. Hype overtakes realism
Once a recruiter has identified you as a prime candidate, they turn from researcher to salesman. If it ever appears as though the recruiter is trying too hard — and you sense that insincere, slimy-ish feeling that tells you they are trying “too hard” to sell you on the opportunity, there’s a good reason. Run away.
2. “We can pay you — but not what you’re worth…”
The business world is full of claims that your pay will go up as soon as the company gets back on its feet, the start-up gets funded or the non-profit finally gets that big grant. You have to offset this red flag with the need to get out of your current situation, and of course pay your bills. However, you may want to alter your expectations to “I’m accepting this offer as is, and if the promise is kept… I’ll smile.”
3. Promises of management roles
Most recruiters don’t hire automatons that will be in the same position seven years from now. They want people who will help the company grow while showing some leadership. Almost always, this gets turned into “you’ll be a manager in less than two years.” Fine, here’s the follow-up question: “What percentage of your associates ascend to management roles?” If they can’t answer, let the red flag fly!
4. “You’ll create your own role…”
While this is the perfect situation for some, for others this “self-ruled” position can be a nightmare. Essentially, the employer is saying: “We don’t really know what we need, don’t really have a clue how to do it, and are bringing in new talent to get it done.” If this isn’t for you… take your talents elsewhere.
5. Research doesn’t back-up their claims
You get all excited about the job offer. And then… you can’t find anything online that supports the claims of the recruiter. No press release about that new partnership agreement. No customers that openly champion their products. No sign of their “constant presence” on Twitter. In this case, we want to believe. We do. But if there’s nothing positive about the company online… there’s nothing positive about working for the company.
6. “This is a ground floor opportunity…”
Again, a dual edged sword — depending on your entrepreneurial spirit. If these words are spoken by the Founder of an emerging start-up, more than likely it’s the truth. If you are interviewing at a company that has been around for five or six years or more — or with someone even remotely responsible for recruiting salespeople, however, this is desperate shtick on the part of the recruiter, 99% of the time.
7. “We’re changing the world!…”
We all want to change the world. And most of us would choose to work for a company steeped in social responsibility. But here’s the fact: organizations that are truly making a difference rarely need to actually talk about changing the world; their actions and reputation speak for them, loudly. All the rest could be accused of spewing buzzwords in hopes of attracting you as an employee.
8. Creepy is NOT charming
We all know the type… he thinks he’s Pitt or Clooney, but he’s really more like a Used Car Salesman. You know, the fake laugh; the over-friendly use of “Pal” or “Brother”; trying to appear WAY younger than they are (“Dude!”)… and more. These guys never change. No matter how many drinks or lunches they buy, or how many names they drop. Attach your star to these clowns, and your career will be a 3-ring circus.
9. The stalker-spammer
If you’ve uploaded your resume to Monster or CareerBuilder, you already know this type. The insurance company who thinks you’re perfect for their new sales program. The MLM’er with a “never seen before” diet supplement. The social networking guy who used to work for Donald Trump. Sounds amazing? No. Huge red flag — maybe the biggest of the bunch.
10. Gratuitous nepotism
Especially in start-ups, it seems buddies stick together. In some companies, this works quite well — for a time. If, however, you notice college roomies, frat brothers and sister-in-laws are consistently placed in critical roles despite their lack of qualifications… red flag! This isn’t “cute” or “fun” — it is a sign that management cares little about achieving success — or your role as a team member.
11. Happy hour
With increasing frequency, bosses are choosing to close the deal over a beer. Really? A beer? We all understand the importance of building relationships — and getting to know the team a little bit before we sign on the dotted line. However, important decisions and happy hour should be separated at all costs… and we strongly suggest meeting at Starbuck’s instead.
12. Social media Satan
As has been blogged about numerous times in the last couple weeks, there is no excuse for an employer asking you for the passwords to your social media accounts. Unacceptable. Period. The answer is, “No, thank you… I’ll show myself to the door.”
A dramatic change to your path, especially if you’ve just been waiting for the economy to improve to make your move, just may be the right decision. Remember, though, that while searching for the proverbial greener grass… you need to look out for those glaring red flags.
Have you come across any of these red flags in your job searches? Any juicy stories of your own that you would like to tell about? Please let me know in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of ciro@tokyo via Creative Commons.