Applying for new jobs can feel like a job in and of itself. But as many IT professionals will tell you, putting forth the extra effort can help further your career in the long run.


However, the longer the job search process becomes, the more desperate a candidate becomes. It can be tempting to accept the first offer that comes your way, or quickly skim and skip over job descriptions to fill out your application as fast as possible.


Remember: your future employer should be just as eager about hiring as you are about being hired. Oftentimes, candidates ignore red flags that pop up in the hiring process simply because they just desperately need a job. But accepting the wrong role or position can actually hinder your career growth, not help it.


Your goal is to find a position in which you are respected, valued, and of course, happy. The best way to make sure this happens is by staying alert and being aware of all potential red flags that an interviewer or employer might exhibit.


Here are some warning signs that job seekers should be aware of during the search process:


1. A Lack of Consistency In the Hiring Process


Perhaps one of the most common job search red flags candidates observe is a hiring process that’s too long, too short, or has a general lack of consistency.


For many candidates, the wait to find out if you’ve secured the position can feel like an eternity; but if the gaps between each interview drag on for weeks or even months, there’s a good chance the job isn’t worth the inconsistency.


Unless the employer offers a very specific reason for the delay, dragging out the interview process typically indicates that the company isn’t placing a priority on filling your position. 


A lack of consistency in the hiring process is also a good indication that there’s a lack of consistency in the internal work environment. The last thing you want as a new employee is to feel neglected, or not receive the support you need.


2. Missing Specifics In the Job Description


If you come across a vague job description with very few details, we recommend turning the other way. Missing specifics in the description could mean the company is unsure of what they’re searching for in an employee.


If the company isn’t capable of narrowing down the requirements, duties, and skills they require, they likely won’t be great at effectively guiding you through the onboarding and training process. As an aspiring IT expert, the last thing you want is a job that will cause frustration or waste time in furthering your career.


Similarly, if you’ve applied for a specific, titled position, only to observe in the interview that your job details haven’t clearly been defined, you might want to look for a job that’s clearer with your job duties and responsibilities.


And while it’s common in today’s working job environment to combine a few, small responsibilities from various departments into one role, you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing two or three jobs in one.


3. Evidence of Poor Team Dynamics


Any well-run company will have a high-performing team dynamic, supplied with workers who generate their own energy and elevate everyone to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, not every company is successful in this area, and it’s something you should be on the lookout for when going through the interviewing process.


The first indication of a poor team dynamic is weak leadership or dysfunctional management. This negativity will undermine the performance of the team and generate a lack of direction, causing workers to focus on the wrong priorities.


Second, you should be aware of vague descriptions of company goals and a lack of transparency. A failure to clearly explain goals offers little chance for great success. And without systems of transparency or discipline, the team ends up wasting hours only to accomplish nothing of value.


4. Poor Company Culture


Speaking of vague company goals, another huge red flag to look for in a job offer is indications of poor company culture. If your employer hasn’t defined its core values, there’s a good chance they have none. Core values are the key to the company progressing forward. Without them, there is no sense of direction, leaving everyone with no real motivation to get anything done.


Also, if there is evidence of unhealthy competition, absenteeism, or no incentives for hard work, you might want to move in a different direction. These are huge warning signs of a negative and toxic working environment.


Company culture feeds into each aspect of the organization, and it greatly impacts employee happiness, job satisfaction, and the overall performance level of the team.


5. The Job Doesn’t Offer Growth Potential


When looking for a job in the IT field, you should avoid getting stuck in a dead-end job that offers no growth potential. And while many experts will tell you they’ve unfortunately succumbed to such a position at one point in their career, there are warning signs you can be aware of to avoid it.


First, if the job offer sounds overly technical, or offers no change in routine, you should probably look to offer your services elsewhere. Searching for a job is more than just securing a position in the here and now; this job will likely be your occupation for the next three to five years. If you don’t see any way to further your responsibilities in the role, you shouldn’t take it.


Likewise, if you feel like there is little room for the company to tap into your skill set, it’s probably because they don’t plan to. When you aren’t being asked about your skills, experiences, or career goals, you should immediately mark this offer as a red flag.


6. No Alignment With Mission and Vision


Regardless of how innovative a company might seem on the outside, if there is no alignment on mission and vision, there is little chance of success for the organization. Mark Murphy writes for Forbes, “Having a brilliant vision and strategy doesn’t make a difference if you can’t get your leaders and employees to buy into that vision.”


Since the global pandemic, hundreds of companies have been forced to rethink and restructure their vision; but without the alignment of leaders on all levels, the vision will virtually be useless. Continues Murphy, “The more a leader’s vision for the future seems to be aligned with the organization’s, the more an employee will be inspired to give their best effort at work.”


If you feel that your recent job offer has waived any of these red flags, we advise continuing your search for a future-focused role elsewhere. Even if you feel you’re in desperate need of a job, don’t lower your standards. Eventually, you’ll find that golden offer to work for an eager employer who’s just as excited about the role as you.

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