Job Hunting? 5 Red Flags to Watch for
Totally not horror related... or is it?
I've had quite a few jobs along the way including writing freelance for a veterans' education and employment focused magazine. It's that background I'm tapping right now because there's been something I've been pondering and hope that my thoughts may help someone out there on the job hunt.
We are living at a fascinating time where the previously accepted value system and structure of work is being challenged... and rightly so. From raising minimum wage, tip based labor, to opening possibilities for remote work, the pandemic has forced us to take a closer look at how we do business.
Too often company culture encourages employers (and by extension society) to place a monetary value on a human being. We could argue that they place that value on a person's work, but let's be honest, we know that all too often, in American society, these are one and the same.
If you are or will be on the job hunt soon, here's some red flags to look out for when applying and interviewing.
1. "Fast-paced environment"
If you've spent anytime searching job postings you've seen this phrase or some variation. Corporations are great at spinning buzzwords to soften negativity. What they really mean is that the workload for the position is beyond the workload for a single person in a 40 hour week. Further, this means they do not want to pay to hire additional people to make the workload manageable. This means they are interested in getting everything they can out of a person until they burnout or dropout. Then... rinse and repeat.
2. "Work hard, play hard"
When I hear this phrase coming from an employer, or anything like it, it makes me think of a parent desperate to be considered cool to their kids. Awkward and sad.
In an amusing conversation, my husband said this means "long hours, but we have a ping-pong table" and he's damn right. Among my former jobs, I worked as a Junior Game Designer, pretty sweet, right? Kinda and let me tell you why. It became clear that I was expected to hang out after work with my co-workers and when I didn't do that, it also became clear that this hurt my position at the company. (I'll save the sexism issues and my experiences in the video game industry for another blog.)
3. They don't respect boundaries and/or your time during the interview process
You got the call, they want to interview you, a fabulous next step in the process of getting the job. BUT they expect you to drop everything immediately to schedule your interview with them, or they have a test they expect you to take care of asap to evaluate your candidacy.
If an employer can't respect the boundaries and time of a candidate, you can bet your ass they don't respect them for their employees.
4. It's not clear who's in charge
You've gotten to the end of your second interview and you still don't have a clear sense of the decision-maker(s), who you'll be working under, or there's a lot of "let me check with" from someone who has a leadership job title (I'm not talking checking with HR for budget info here).
Often this is not the fault of the people who are doing the hiring but an issue within the structure of the company. Having a leadership title doesn't always mean the individual is given the clout and support to effectively lead. This can create all sorts of awful political scenarios for those in the workplace and can fracture teams.
These are almost always related to power struggles and personal resentments that allow an individual or group to gather power and authority through associations. Getting stuck in the middle of a situation like this, especially as a new employee is not at all good for your mental health and potentially your career.
5. Underlying attitude of the interviewers is comparable to "prove your good enough"
Respect is important on both sides of the hiring experience. If an interviewer treats a candidate as if they need to prove themselves then they've already failed as employer-- particularly when evaluating introverts or candidates with things like anxiety who may have the perfect set of skills and ability.
Unfortunately, the interviewer's attitude can put candidates in a powerless position, stunting their ability to demonstrate capabilities and knowledge. Further, it is likely that an employer with this attitude never really sees anyone as "good enough" even after they are hired, so essentially the interview process goes on. I'm all for this style if your interviewing to become the next Dread Pirate Roberts, but I'm guessing that's not the case, so a big no thank you here.
Of course, this is also big sign that employees are not valued as human beings because the first time you have a difficult moment in your life, they won't be there for it and the last thing you need is to struggle AND have to worry if you're gonna have a job at the end of the struggle.
Hope you found something useful here. Remember when job hunting, YOU are evaluating potential employers as much as they are evaluating you.
Alright, time to slink back to writing horror stories. Cheers!