When looking for a new job, a job description is often your best resource for trying to get an idea of what the job is, does, and if you’re a good fit or not. While this is its purpose, it’s not always the rule. Employers will vet candidates to ensure they’re a good fit for their teams and organizations, but candidates should do the same. Bad jobs and employers exist, so what can we do to avoid them? Lucky for us, there are several red flags to be on the lookout for when first reviewing a job description.
A job description’s purpose, first and foremost, is to advertise what the job entails in a descriptive way, so the candidate can decide whether they’re qualified. Lack of details in a job description immediately indicates one of two things. Most commonly, it signals a lack of structure and attention to detail. If a hiring manager allows this, chances are they are lax in other areas as well. If an organization is unfocused when onboarding employees, what type of support do you expect once they hire you?
A lack of details could also indicate a potential scam. Online scams centered around jobs are becoming increasingly more common. If you come across a help wanted ad on Craigslist asking only for date of birth and if you have a bank account, chances are it’s not real. Most employers will ask for education and experiences – not for your banking information to set up a direct deposit before you’ve even interviewed.
Avoid postings for jobs with mashed-up titles, like Manager of Product Management and Marketing. Often, employers who post jobs with titles like these are looking to fill two roles with one person. You can end up in a job where you have too many (potentially unrelated) responsibilities, or you may find yourself not being suitably financially compensated for the work you’re doing.
Also, try to avoid titles that sound “Click-Bait-ey” or hypocritical. A listing for an Entry-Level Web Design Expert indicates an employer wants to hire someone with expert-level skills, but at an entry-level price. This should be a red flag, as you want to be fairly compensated for any work you do. This often implies a company culture not focused on its employees.
Subtly Implies All Work and No Play
There may be telling signs about the job’s work-life balance within the description, but it may not be immediately clear. The description may place a heavy emphasis on a candidate’s flexibility. Being able to “quickly follow directions” or “work fast and independently” keys us into a potentially disruptive work environment. A lack of structure within a position can derail even the best candidate before they’ve even started, setting them up for failure.
Other phrases like, “Must be able to wear many hats,” can indicate an understaffed (and often overworked) business. Clear red flags also include mentioning only job responsibilities. If there is a lack of benefits or positives for a career with a company, it’s often a reflection of their values – values that may not be employee-oriented.