Job Search Guy

New Job Red Flags

Sometimes as job seekers we overlook questionable situations from the start of an application to the first days of employment. Often, we can recant these red flags after things have gone from bad to worse. Let’s take a look at some of the situations I have been in, and the red flags I should have listened to.

1. Do you feel that you have been wrongly treated by an employer?

The first rule (of all rules) is that a preceding incident must occur to necessitate a rule, or in this case question. This question came up for me during pre-screen questions during an application package. The question is not inherently bad; however, when put in the context of it being posed by an employer it seems questionable. Firstly, it is unlikely that anyone is going to answer this question honestly if they had felt they were wrongly treated. No one wants to hire a problem employee. Secondly, how often are they accused of this that it becomes an application question.

2. You receive the job in the interview/your interview turns into you filling out new employee forms.

I have had this jump forward in the hiring cycle more than once. It is never a good sign. In my experience it points to desperation to hire people to fill spots in a company that has extremely high turnover. That turnover generally is justified due to the conditions of the job and/or the tenor of the staff. We all need income, but you’ll probably want to keep looking for something else while you endure this opportunity.

3. Before your training starts on your first day you are asked this question: Can you train another new person in four days?

When this happened to me, my first day was on a Tuesday. I was working Monday through Friday, and another person was hired for the weekends. Five minutes after I arrived on my first day, I was asked to train someone Saturday and Sunday. This meant I would be working eleven days straight before my first day off. There were two supervisors at this location, as well as other staff that had worked there for years. Somehow, I became the best candidate.

4. Your training is reading only.

Some training involves reading. It is fair and reasonable to include some self-reading material for new employees, particularly if working with a group that have different learning speeds/needs. If your training only includes reading, this can be problematic. One of the issues with a read only modality, is that it can not answer verbal questions. I have had questions come up after I have already read material that had the answer. We do not all use the same terminology, thus misinterpretations can occur. When asking a question to a trainer, they can contextually understand your question well enough to decode your learning needs.

5. You find out you are the eighteenth person in this job in a year.

A high rate of turn over in a job is a major red flag. Sometimes, this has to do with location and accessibility. Most of the time it has to do with the conditions of the job (often a mismatch from what was promised). Other times it can be related to the personalities on the job. In areas where attracting new employees is an issue – this might not be a reflection on the actual company, but simply the talent pool they have to draw from. In any case, asking why each person left will give you a better understanding.

6. You find out there are additional duties once you start the job.

Every job will have its share of side duties or “duties as assigned”. Red flag new duties interfere with your schedule or the actual scope of your work. For example, I was hired for a job that was 30 minutes out of town. On my second day, I found out that I could be called at any time – day or night – to come in and assist our client. This was not what I had signed up for, nor did I fancy the idea of an hour’s commute at 1am and then have to be back at work for 8am.

If you are in the market for a new job, do as much research as you can prior to applying. If you are desperate to leave the job you have, be sure that you are not going to find yourself in a worse situation than the one you left. If you feel there are red flags in any part of your application process, listen to your gut. It is usually telling you what you will learn in time.


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