Sometimes the excitement over landing a potential new job causes you to overlook some major red flags. In many cases, the problems aren't hidden, but we're willing to overlook them because we want a change, the money is better, or the new situation is a much-wanted promotion.
It's important, however, no matter how excited you are, to listen to that little voice in the back of your head. Even if you want to charge ahead and ignore any potential problems, step back and really examine the situation. You may still decide to take the job, but you'll go into it with less wide-eyed innocence.
Of course, you don't have to take a job just because it's offered. You can walk away even if it's painful because of what you will be giving up.
Here are some helpful tips from three of our Foolish contributors.
You're not feeling good about it
Selena Maranjian: If you're offered a job doing the kind of work you'd like to do for a salary that seems good or great, you might still want to turn it down -- if you just don't feel too good about it.
For example, when interviewing at the job site, you might have been put off by the company culture. Perhaps it seemed too silly, with cutesy signs adorning the halls. Or maybe it seemed too unfriendly, with lots of reminders to workers to follow various rules. It's good to look closely at a potential workplace, noting, for example, how happy or unhappy the employees seem to be.
We're in the connected internet age now, so take advantage of that. You can look up reviews of your employer at sites such as Glassdoor.com.
Here are some comments for one company that give you an idea of the kinds of insights you can glean:
- "Management doesn't really care about the employees or what's going on. ... It's simply horrid."
- "No opportunity for advancement. None whatsoever. You won't get a raise. some of my coworkers have worked for over 8 years without a change in compensation."
Read many reviews of any company of interest, to get an overall sense of employee attitudes. Don't be swayed by just one bad review. It's also good to do some networking, trying to find friends or friends of friends who work at companies of interest to get their perspectives.
Finally, give some thought to the company's health. Is it doing well? If it's a public company, you can check out its financial statements to see if its top and bottom lines are growing. Look it up in the news, too. If you find articles wondering how it's going survive a major challenge or new competitor, those can be worrisome signs.
Mixed messages about the role
Maurie Backman: It's often the case that a job description doesn't tell the whole story about a given role. In fact, most candidates rely on information obtained during interviews to determine whether a job is the right one to take. But if you come away from the interview process without a clear sense of what the job on the table entails, take it as a sign that you ought to run the other way.
Sometimes, a company will post a job without really knowing what it wants from that role, but rather, just knowing that it needs more hands on deck. But taking a job like that could hurt your career, not to mention make you miserable, if your day-to-day reality winds up differing substantially from what you initially expected.
So if you're unable to get a clear sense of what you'll be doing at your new job -- say, one person you interview with tells you one thing, while a second person tells you another -- don't sign up for something so fuzzy. Either wait for that company to get its ducks in a row, or move on. Otherwise, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises.
A lot of turnover
Daniel B. Kline: Sometimes in my career, I have used going after a job that has had a lot of turnover as a way to get a promotion I otherwise may have had to wait for. That happened when I took my first job as editor of a daily newspaper. That particular paper had gone through three or four editors in around a year. In general, that's a major red flag.
In this case, when I looked into the position, it was clear to me that every failed person was a bad choice for the job. They were people expecting to be managers, not hands-on doers in a position that was very hands-on.
Looking further into the situation, I noticed that the last successful person to hold the job for multiple years was someone I knew. Since I had a similar skill set to that person, I knew I could handle the job (which I held for about two years, until I walked away), and the turnover red flag did not apply.
In most cases, though, if a job has a lot of turnover, that's a very strong reason to consider not taking it. If the company in general has heavy turnover, that's almost always a reason to pass.
There are exceptions. Sometimes weird things happen and heavy turnover isn't what it seems. In most cases, however, if a job churns through people, that's reason to at least consider not taking it.