The Biggest Red Flags Every Job Hunter Should Know

November 8, 2022

Endless hours at your desk. Unachievable goals. Tyrannical bosses. Toxic coworkers. Bad coffee.

They’re nightmare jobs, and we’ve all had at least one.

Maybe it was the burger joint where you served fries in high school, or it could be the job you have right now, but in every case, you probably asked yourself the question: how did I get here?

The answer is simple: you missed the red flags. All of the warning signs that should have told you that they weren’t as “employee-centric” as the cheerful HR manager promised in your interview.

At CRB Workforce, we want you to have your dream job, which is why we spend a lot of time screening out the companies that we can tell are going to make you hate going into the office every morning.

While some companies fly their red flags high, others aren’t as easy to see, so we spoke with Greg Grimm, a leader in our client services department, to learn how to spot the warning signs of a bad company before you sign an offer letter.

Situational Red Flags

The Big Idea: No two people have the same needs, priorities or life situations. That’s why what may be a red flag for one person could be a green light for another. These red flags should make you take a closer look.

  1. Work / Life Balance
    • Do you have to drop off the kids at school every morning or get them to soccer practice at night?
    • If a company expects you to be available nights, weekends and every minute in between, then they might not be suitable for someone who prioritizes work/life balance
    • In our experience, smaller companies and startups will be more demanding of your time but the impact of your work can be much greater.

  1. Equity
    • Some companies may offer a high salary in the interview phase but then try to  offer a lower salary plus equity when it’s time to sign paperwork.
    • Pre-IPO equity is like a lottery ticket. If you like to bet on yourself and your team, go for it – Payoff could be huge.
    • The key is that the company explains the equity, the valuation, the strike price, etc all before you sign the offer letter.

  1. Bad Reviews
    • From politics to sports to restaurants, the internet exists so that people can complain.
    • That’s why you shouldn’t freak out if you read one or two bad online reviews for a potential employer.
    • However, if you notice a pattern, such as everyone calling out the same toxic leadership or constantly changing goals, you should look closer and see if this is something to worry about.

Bottom Line: Know what your priorities are and then research and ask questions to make sure that your new job is aligned with them. The most important thing we’ve learned is that no amount of money or high-ranking job title will ever be worth it for a job you hate.

Universal Red Flags

The Big Idea: Some red flags are subjective or don’t apply to everyone, but if a company you’re interviewing with does any of the things listed below, you should proceed with caution.

  1. High turnover rate
    • What happened to the last person who had your job?
    • Were they promoted from within, or did they bail after six months?
    • Before accepting a company’s offer, visit their LinkedIn page to see how long other people with your job title have lasted.

  1. No Team Talk
    • If you want the truth about what your job will be like, talk to the people who are actually doing it.
    • It’s ok to ask to speak with someone who will be on your team, but if the company refuses to connect you with anyone, that’s not just a red flag; it’s a siren.

  1. Short Runway
    • If you’re interviewing with a startup, find out how long they can afford to stay in business.
    • Are they working remote and conserving their cash or renting premium office space and partying like it’s 1999?
    • Be wary of a company offering 25% above market salary and a great job title only to find out six months later that they can’t afford to keep the lights on.

Bottom Line: A good company should communicate well, be transparent and have no problem answering all of your questions. So if it feels like they have something to hide, it’s probably because they do.

Interested in working with us?

Whether you’re a company looking to attract the brightest minds in your industry or a candidate looking for a career change, we are here to help. We can fill your short/long term opportunities or a direct hire need.