Career Advice Job Searching Tips

8 Red Flags You Need to Look Out for in Job Postings

By: Charlotte Couch
Sep 14, 2020 • 7 min read

8 Red Flags You Need to Look Out for in Job Postings

Whether you have been laid off due to the pandemic or you are simply unsatisfied with your job, you might be feeling a little desperate for a new job. Like most people in your position, you are probably scrolling through sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to find a new company to work for. And while more jobs are starting to open up again, there are also a number of phony or suspicious job listings out there too. If you’re on the lookout for a new job, stay alert for these red flags. Many of them indicate that the employer is unfocused or the company posting the job is suffering from poor management. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a toxic or abusive workplace. To avoid this, keep a lookout for these 8 red flags on job postings.

job postings

1. Vague Description

In order to give a potential candidate a thorough idea of what they can expect from the role, companies will provide a list of job duties that their position requires. For a social media specialist position at a restaurant, an employer might write something like:

  •     Build a social media calendar for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts
  •     Start outreach campaign for influencers
  •     Collaborate with the marketing director and chief creative officer to build the restaurant’s brand identity

But if an employer is unable to adequately describe the requirements of a job, this could indicate that they lack goals or a proper management structure. At worst, unclear job requirements could suggest that the post is a scam. Unscrupulous companies will cast a wide net for prospective candidates by creating a vague job description that can apply to a large number of people.

2. They Indicate a Thick Skin is Needed

Job posts that require candidates to have a “thick skin” usually indicate that the workplace or boss is toxic and even abusive. Of course, a company would never say that outright. So they may try to sugarcoat it by saying they’re only looking for candidates who are tough and have a thick skin. For the sake of your own sanity, you need to take the time to decide whether or not this job is really for you. While you might believe that you have the special sauce needed to survive the role, remember that multiple people before you have thought the same.

job postings

3. It’s an Anonymous Job Posting

While an anonymous job posting doesn’t necessarily mean that the company behind it is a scam or that it is untrustworthy, you should still be wary of confidential job postings. Sometimes, a company will anonymously post a job opening for the sake of privacy. But others will post one because the employee they are replacing doesn’t know that they are being fired. Sometimes, the posting might be published from a recruitment agency rather than an actual company. Recruitment agencies will do this to build up a roster of candidates they can place elsewhere later on.

4. You Keep Seeing the Post Being Republished Online

If you keep seeing a job post being republished, this could indicate a high turnover rate at the company. Businesses that can’t keep their employees could be toxic or abusive. Whoever gets stuck in that position might also find themselves at the mercy of an abusive boss. Either way, you don’t need to deal with the stress of working for a company that will harm your mental health. Again, you might think that you can be the one that breaks the chain of short-term employees. But you just need to remember that several people before you probably thought the same thing. Unfortunately, they are no longer there anymore.

5. They Mention High-Stress Situations or Long Nights at the Job

Does the job description include phrases like “expect long nights” or “many of our employees take their work home with them?” This indicates that the company does not enable employees to enjoy a healthy work/life balance. For some jobs, you might have to work overtime on occasion. But always having to stay late or work weekends can take its toll. If having a decent work/life balance is important for you, you might want to pass on this job opportunity.

job postings

6. The Job Posting Requires an Unpaid Trial Period

Some companies might require candidates to undergo an unpaid trial period. Even though unpaid trials can technically be considered legal if they are deemed to be part of a legitimate hiring process, they can still be problematic. Some employers might use this trial period to get you to work for free. Other companies that suffer from a high turnover rate might use it to see if you can stick around without having to pay them any money.

7. They Don’t Discuss Benefits or a Salary Range

For most people, a job posting that contains information on benefits and salary can be helpful for them. However, some companies don’t include a salary or simply state that it “depends on experience.” This can be extremely frustrating for people who want to know whether or not a job is worth their time. Even if the job description sounds like a perfect fit for their career goals, they might have to rethink it if the salary is too low. After all, they have bills and loans to pay. If you encounter this issue, you don’t necessarily have to dismiss the company right off the bat.

job postings

8. Do Your Research

You could check websites like Glassdoor to see if past employees mentioned their salary in their review for the company. If you’re unable to find any useful information, you can still apply and list your salary requirements in your application. Searching for a job can be a tiresome and challenging process. In the midst of the pandemic, it is more complicated than ever to find one that aligns with your career goals and aspirations. But while finding an opening can be exciting, you still need to be careful about any red flags you see. That’s why you should take a few minutes to look over the job description and its requirements.

Have you ever dealt with a shady or unscrupulous job postings? Let us know!

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