Episode 95: Red Flags in the Job Search Process


June 11th, 2024

29 mins 39 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We’re talking from experience about red flags, especially in the job search process, where your gut fits into decision making and how to listen for those flags.

Kat tells her story from 20 years ago about her first HR Leadership role where she joined a company working for a husband and wife team. The offer was lower than her comfort zone with a bonus to get her there. She then needed to clock in, which is unknown in leadership roles. When Kat got home from her first week on the job, she said to her husband, “One week down, 51 to go”, but in reality, she left after 6 months to preserve her mental health and well-being. This decision led to Kat starting her own business which has been thriving for 21 years.

Liz’s story is more recent. A recruiter sent an AI-written no-personality job description, and then there was a fast interview process which led to a funky feeling. The offer came with terrible benefits - a big red flag that shows you don’t care about people. The red flags were all true, and while she tried to focus on the positive, it ended up being untenable and her gut got a lot less twisty once she left.

One big flag to point out is this: would you take the job if you had a job? If the answer is no, why? If it’s because things don’t feel right, listen to that!

Official advice #1: The Job Description: Is it written by AI? Boring? Trying to help draw you in? Include company values? Do you know what the company does, what the job is, is there a career page selling you on the company?

Official advice #2: The recruiting process. What’s it like? Do you feel they know you at all? Is there a decision process or does it go on forever? Have you met your boss, a few colleagues? It’s a red flag if you don’t feel like they know what they want and what they’re looking for.

Official advice #3: Look at Glassdoor, PunchBowl, Reddit, and other sites that talk about the experience working at the company. Look for threads in the reviews- not just the 1 from an angry employee. Look at the recent feedback on what it’s like there. The score is important, but know that companies try to manipulate their score….pay attention if there are lots of positive reviews with zero substance.

Official advice #4: Is the team diverse? Look on Linkedin and see who works there. Is everyone white and under 30 in suits and ties? Do they indicate that they want diverse teams and points of view?

Official advice #5: Does the benefits package indicate that they care about their people? What’s covered? How much are they contributing? We’ve never seen a great place to work with terrible benefits.

Official advice #6: Do they encourage your questions? Answer directly? Belittle you for asking questions? RED FLAG. If you ever feel like your requests are being blown off, word salad or more, it’s a huge indicator of what the company is like to work at.

Official advice #7: Your gut is saying no. If you’re not excited about signing the offer, it’s for a good reason. It’s hard to not listen to your brain and your bank account, but let your gut have a say in the decision.

If you do go against your gut, we’ve got some clear advice for you.

Don’t announce it on Linkedin right away.

Don’t stop interviewing >> if your brain and your bank account win out and you try something new, it’s ok to keep interviewing if you really don’t think it’s a fit.

Be artfully honest when people ask you how things are going- lead with the positive, but tell people you’re still open to new opportunities.

If it’s not a big fit, look for the good people you haven’t met, the story, the learnings. There are good things that come out of good stints.