As you begin your job search, it’s vital that you know how to decode the description of a job and what to watch out for. Yes—there are red flags in job descriptions, and you need to know what they are so you don’t apply to a job that could make you miserable or lead to a dead end. Here’s what to look for.
Look for specifics:
If a job description gives little detail, take the lack of information as a warning sign that the company is unsure of what they want for that role. If the company isn’t capable of clearly describing what skills and level of experience they require, they likely won’t be great at guiding you into your new role with their company. Steer clear of vague descriptions or convoluted titles, this will save you a lot of frustration and wasted time down the road.
Benefits are vague:
If a job description asks for a lot of qualifications, skills, and experience without mentioning what the company will do for you as the employee, consider that to be a major red flag. Companies who are hesitant to sing their own praises should be viewed cautiously and with a bit of skepticism. After all, if they’re trying to attract the best candidates, shouldn’t they be talking about how great the benefits are? If a company offers little to no information about the positives of working there and what they give back to their employees, they likely have little to offer.
Flexibility is NOT always a good thing:
There is a BIG difference between flexibility and “flexibility.” On its surface, having work flexibility seems like a positive, but a company that overemphasizes the perk may be twisting its actual meaning. You may read this in a job description as choosing what days you come into the office each week and having the ability to decide what hours you work. However, the description and the employer could say they want you to work nights and weekends. If the flexibility is not explicitly spelled out, approach listings that emphasize schedule flexibility with extreme caution and ensure that before you walk out of an interview, your employer and you share the same definition of what “flexible schedule” actually means.
Too many details:
Just as too little information is a red flag, so is too much information! Painfully specific descriptions can be a bad sign for a different set of reasons. If a job posting is outrageously lengthy and makes a company seem like their expectations are too high, that may be a sign that no matter who gets the job, the expectations will continue to be over-the-top. It also indicates that the company has a poor idea of what the role actually requires, which can lead to overcompensation by adding more detail than is actually necessary or expecting the new hire to tackle everything within the description.
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