When the job search isn’t going your way, you may be tempted to lower your standards just to put an end to the madness. But no matter how desperate you are for a new gig, how tired you’ve become with the interview process, or how irresistible this other role seems, there are a few types of companies you’ll want to avoid.
Ignoring key red flags during the job search will set your career back in more ways than one. But learning how to spot them will benefit you forever. Here are eight types of companies you’ll want to steer clear of — even if they offer you the job.
1. The Hire-and-Fire
Reg flags: Companies with a high turnover rate are almost always cause for concern. Key roles that are consistently showing up on a job site or recurring every few months could mean the company is stuck in a never-ending hire-and-fire cycle.
Why this is bad: Constant openings indicate leadership trouble. It also hints that the company has a terrible work culture, unattainable employee expectations, or fickle management. You’ll likely become just a number in these types of outfits and struggle to achieve any personal and professional goals.
What to look for instead: Search for companies that have a reasonable amount of open positions rather than pages and pages worth of vacancies they can’t fill. A quick LinkedIn search that shows long employee tenure is also a good sign. This suggests current employees like their jobs and plan to stay a while longer.
Next: Run, don’t walk away from this next type of company.
2. The Foot-Dragger
Red flags: Extra-long gaps in communication with your hiring manager, an interview process that spans months, or mixed messages regarding hiring timelines and dates are all telltale signs of a directionless company.
Why this is bad: You expect to wait during the interview process, but a timely stop-and-go process indicates poor organization and communication internally. If they’re unable to manage the hiring process, it’s likely communicating with colleagues and management during the day-to-day will be just as difficult.
What to look for instead: Even the busiest hiring managers will make an effort to communicate with promising candidates throughout the process. A stable company will be forthcoming about interview next-steps and their goals for you in the position moving forward. They’ll also be willing to accelerate the process should you receive a second offer from another company.
Next: Why you must look beyond perks for the real story
3. The Shiny Distractor
Red flags: Think twice about foosball tables, corporate cafeterias, and unlimited snacks in the break room that outshine the true business work environment. They can distract you from what’s really lurking beneath the surface.
Why this is bad: Remember, gleaming work environments that seem too good to be true probably are. It’s entirely possible the curb appeal is compensating for a workload that tends to overwhelm and discourage employees. Working 10-hour days doesn’t feel so bad if there’s a ping pong table to play on, right? Wrong.
What to look for instead: Look at all areas of the company to discern if these fancy perks paint an inaccurate picture. Are the boss’s offices and conference rooms the only shiny places in the building? Do the employee cubicles match the glamour in the common areas? If not, steer clear. It could suggest the company doesn’t treat its employees with respect.
Next: A reputation that precedes you
4. The Culture Conundrum
Red flags: Overly negative employee reviews, a bad reputation among locals, or recruiters who evade questions regarding employee satisfaction and culture are all red flags you must not ignore.
Why this is bad: Some online employee reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. But if the verbiage is consistent, there’s likely some truth to the matter. Damaging reputations have a direct link to financial performance and tying yourself to such a place could be a career-ender. Companies who don’t emphasize work-life balance will also be the ones who expect you to respond to an email thread on Saturday mornings.
What to look for instead: Preliminary recon is necessary to detect a culture clash. Spend time reading reviews and googling the company for any bad press. Previous employees who can speak highly of the company is one of the best endorsements you can receive as a job candidate.
Next: A company without this employee perk is never worth your time.
5. The Linear Letdown
Red flags: Stay away from job postings that display a concerning lack of learning opportunities. The hiring manager who dodges and evades questions about your career goals is also worth a second thought.
Why this is bad: Most people want to grow in their positions. A company that offers no learning opportunities or ways climb the career ladder must be avoided at all costs. Surveys show job seekers crave development opportunities most in their next position, and a company with little emphasis on this perk is a massive dead-end.
What to look for instead: Ask these organizations how they support their employee’s professional growth needs. Do they tend to promote from within? What kind of educational stipends are available? It’s a good sign when companies can answer these questions about growth with detail and ease.
Next: How to tell if a company cares
6. The Onboarding Off-Ramp
Red flags: You can – and should — be wary of companies that offer no formal training to new hires. A lack of detail in your job description or employees who struggle to define the core responsibilities of their role are also serious red flags.
Why this is bad: A company that’s unwilling to onboard new hires in any way is not worth investing in, as they are failing to invest in you. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
What to look for instead: A well-established company will have a defined onboarding process in place. Ask pointed questions about that process during your interview. What will the training consist of? How will your role interact with others in the company? And what would a normal day look like for you? If their answers still leave you with questions, its best to cut ties and move on.
Next: The worst type of company
7. The Unidentifiable Ghost
Red flags: An unclear mission statement, no specified salary, or a weak online presence could indicate trouble.
Why this is bad: Established companies understand that we live in an era of transparency. Information is key. Preliminary company research that spurs more questions than answers could suggest a lack of organization and direction internally. Even worse, zero online presence might be a sign of a job scam.
What to look for instead: First and foremost, does the company exist? Limit your job search to organizations that provide relevant information about what they do, the problem their company aims to solve, and how your position will fit within that business model.
Next: When group interviews are a bad sign and when they’re not.
8. The Panel-Interviewer
Red flags: Don’t settle for companies that refuse to interview candidates one-on-one.
Why this is bad: Group interviews save time. But a strong emphasis on group interviews should raise eyebrows. How well will they really get to know you with four other candidates in the same room? And why are they interviewing so many people? Their need for a large applicant pool could go back to the issue of high turnover, or they could be so swamped with work they only have time for group interviews. Either way, it’s a bad sign, and you must run away immediately.
What to look for instead: One or two panel interviews are fine — if you’ve been given an individual interview as well. A combination like this could suggest the company values culture and wants to ensure you’ll mesh with key members of the team.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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