Red Flags to Look for in a Job Description

If you’ve ever landed a job where you realized you didn’t fit, you understand the importance of a good job description. Most of us have had a job where we wished we had known before taking it that it wasn’t going to be as great as we had hoped. Is there a way to find red flags in the actual job description that signal you should walk away even before doing the interview? The answer is yes—and here are five.

It Has a Vague Job Description

Vague job descriptions may mean you’ll end up doing lots of work beyond what was outlined. It may end up being a poor fit for your background and skills. If the employer can’t describe what you’ll do on the job, it may mean they’re unfocused or disorganized. That may mean you’re also set up to fail, with a lack of concrete goals and the potential for some real frustration down the road.

The Job Description Has Crazy Requirements

We see this all the time in corporate or government technology job descriptions. It’s like they threw in everything including the kitchen sink, making for a job description that has no basis in reality. It could mean the employer doesn’t have a clue about who they’re seeking or even what skills it could take to get the job done. It could also signal changing expectations for the work itself, something that could make for a very bad work environment.

It Leaves You Wondering “What’s in it for me?”

Beware of companies that have one-sided job descriptions that just talk about what credentials and experiences they want you to have. If it leaves you wondering how the role and company will benefit you, it’s a huge red flag that the company culture is a bad one where they don’t invest in their employees. The company should mention its mission and values as well as the salary and benefits structure. If it doesn’t—you’ve been warned.

Unrealistic Earning Potential

We’ve all seen those jobs that say, “Earning potential of up to $200,000.” Generally speaking, if it too good to be true, the chances are high that it probably is. Anything that talks about earning potential are a commission-based job, which means higher risk for you. You can assume you’ll make the lowest side of whatever range they put out there (for example, $50,000 to $200,000). While we don’t see this in technology jobs, these types of schemes do exist. Just know, in these cases, the grass isn’t greener for the majority of people that work there. The majority of people that fall into this structure are likely at the low end, with only a handful (or one or two people) making that kind of money.

Watch for Poor Work-Life Balance

There are smaller red flags that could indicate the company culture leans toward a poor work-life balance. Flexibility is a keyword that is fine, but if it’s coupled with “able to change directions quickly,” it may be a sign of a chaotic environment. Watch out for phrases like, “Must be able to handle on-the-job stress,” or “Must be willing to wear multiple hats. All of these may be signs that the company expects you to work way past 40-hours every week.

What’s the bottom line here? Carefully read each job description you apply for. Look for the hidden meaning behind the sentence structure. Ask clarifying questions. You can also call Blackstone Talent Group. We know our employers well and give you a good insight into the on-the-ground realities of the job you’re applying for. Give us a call to find out more today.

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