Finding a job, especially when you have no connections, is difficult even at the best of times. Sometimes, your location is conspiring against you, and the only decent jobs would take a 2 hour commute every day. Other times, every job around you will want a specific availability that you just don’t have for whatever reason. This is not to mention that even when you find a job posting you like, it’s a gamble since the majority of job postings get hundreds of responses. However, there is another issue at hand that also hurts everyone’s job hunting experience: bad jobs themselves.
Nobody wants to get stuck in a position they hate. Not only is it mentally toxic to one’s well-being to be in such a situation, it is more likely you’ll just be on the hunt for a new job in a short period of time. Spotting a bad job can be difficult though, since most of us have little to no familiarity with 99% of the companies out there. Thankfully, though, there are a few red flags you can spot in job postings themselves that might clue you into the fact it’s a bad job. Today, I would like to talk to you about five of those red flags in the hopes that you can save yourself time, energy, and soul from some dangerous entrapment.
Without further ado, let’s jump into it.
- The job posting lists it starts below minimum wage
Obviously, this is a red flag that only applies for those starting out and those who unashamedly need any job that pays (some income is better than no income, after all). Nevertheless, never ever take a job that is advertising itself as starting at below minimum wage. While it might be tempting, the fact of the matter is that if the company is trying to skirt around legal requirements in this arena, they’re probably going to be skirting around other labor laws as well. Additionally so, an employer takes on the responsibility of needing to stay informed about labor laws. A company that is ignorant is probably not one that is organized or pleasant to work for. Everyone deserves to be paid what they’re worth, so don’t sell yourself short.
For those in the US like myself, bear in mind that your state’s minimum wage may also be different than the federal minimum wage. The state’s minimum wage takes higher priority if it’s more, so keep up to date on what your state requires and not just what the country itself requires.
- The job posting gives the position too many responsibilities compared to the wage and similar positions
In most job postings, the responsibilities are going to be listed with flowery, professional sounding language. You aren’t just “running a cash register,” you’re “handling all levels of financial transactions and customer satisfaction via the register.” You aren’t just “stocking the shelves,” you’re “replenishing the merchandise and allocating any back stock to the appropriate location.” Inevitably, before you decide this red flag, you need to break down the responsibilities into layman’s terms.
Once you do that, you may start to notice certain elements that are concerning. For example, I once ran into a cashier job posting where the employee was not only in charge of the cash register but also ordering merchandise, unloading and loading trucks, scheduling employees, and manual inventory paperwork management. Oh, and it was a minimum wage job and there was still somehow a manager in all this.
Overall, if the job posting makes it sound like you’re doing the work of multiple people (or has managerial responsibilities without being a manager position), you probably are doing the work of multiple people. These are the sorts of jobs given when companies have little care for employees. Rather, the company wants to save costs by firing higher wage positions and relegating those tasks to lower wage employees. An overloaded position is one you will find yourself leaving quickly. Inevitably, always break down the responsibilities and ask if they sound reasonable compared to other job postings of similar positions. If there’s too many for the pay, it’s probably best to avoid applying.
- The job posting is filled with spelling and grammar issues
To some this may sound like a nitpick, and yet it is something that can largely reflect the company as a whole. Consider that one of the most common advices you will receive when writing a resume is to make sure it’s free of errors. Why? Well, a resume full of errors reflects a disorganized person who doesn’t take the time to create quality work. The reverse is also true. If a company can’t take the time to make their job posting free of errors, they reveal their own disorganized nature and lack of willingness to put quality work into getting an employee. Companies like this usually are a nightmare to work for, as their lack of organization means a lack of efficiency which means more work for you. Now, of course, I’m not saying to reject a posting if it has one typo or two even. However, once you hit three, there is something concerning going on in the background that should make you think twice about the job at hand.
- You see the job posting every few months or so
Unfortunately, it can take months and months for some people to find a job. Sometimes their resume is at fault, and sometimes they are just in a bad location with a high competition job market. Regardless, if you search long enough, you may come across the situation where a job posting you saw two months ago suddenly reappears. Now, for low level retail positions this isn’t that concerning. Retail is notorious for high turnover rates in general, so people are always quitting left and right.
For non-retail positions, though, it is a red flag. Most jobs should not be reappearing all too frequently. When you start seeing the job multiple times every few months, this means one thing: the company has a high turnover for the job position. Most times, this high turnover is not cause people are “lazy and don’t want to work” either. Rather, it is usually because something is wrong with the position. Perhaps it’s not well-paid enough for the amount of responsibilities. Perhaps the work environment is toxic due to a manager or co-workers. Regardless of the why, a job being open every so often too frequently is a sure sign something bad awaits you should you choose to apply. So, if there is a job you see like this, steer clear of it.
- The job is for a single position, but it’s open interview
This particular red flag is a lot more nuanced and a lot more dependent on the job type you’re going for. Inherently, there is nothing wrong open interviews in themselves. They are, in fact, quite common and can be effective in getting you a position. However, it is important to consider what the position is and the nature of the open interview. Open interviews, in general, are something better suited for companies doing bulk hiring. So, for instance, a call center job, seasonable Christmas positions, remote merchandising positions, and so forth. These are the sorts of job where lots of people get hired all at once, so coming in for the interview is not a waste of your time.
However, when the position is for a single position and it’s a bit higher than entry level, an open interview can start to be a bad sign. It often can reflect two specific things about the company: they didn’t bother to weed out resumes at all (the most minimum effort they should put in) and they aren’t organized enough to schedule real interviews. Inevitably, while these jobs might not be inherently “bad,” they are probably going to be a waste of your time to apply for due to the high amounts of competition open interviews tend to bring out. It is largely up to you to decide on this red flag, but it is something to consider regardless.
Armed with these tips, I hope you feel more confident now on avoiding bad job postings. Of course, it is up to you to use your own judgement on which red flags are deal breakers and which aren’t. All I have aimed to do is provide you with some of those red flags and explain why they can be red flags. Even good jobs may get some of these red flags, so don’t treat these tips as gospel. Rather, simply keep them in mind, and remember to value your time because your time is a valuable commodity. For all the job hunters out there, I wish you luck in finding that one position out there that won’t make you tear your hair out.