Red Flags When Job-Hunting

I have done a lot of job-hunting in my day and have come across a lot of the same red flags during my searches. I thought I’d share them with you, as I know job-hunting is not easy, the process of interviewing can be grueling, and the amount and variety of job ads posted on the internet can be overwhelming.

The company is disorganized. This could mean they don’t get back to you when they say they will. They lose part of your application. Their web site doesn’t work. Or other signs they don’t “run a tight ship”. If it’s like this before you’re hired, it most likely will be the same afterwards and could prove to be a big headache.

The pay is not stated. You’ll notice job ads always include what they’re looking for in an employee and the qualifications of the job. But job ads that don’t also include the wages/salary and other employee benefits are disrespectful of a job seeker’s time, energy, and expectations. At the very least, they should offer a range (to account for differences in years of experience and education level). Best believe they will require an application and resume from you before bothering to reach out, so they should also divulge what they “bring to the table” as an employer.

They seem desperate to hire you. They don’t want to give you time to think it over. They make an offer on the spot. They receive your application and are wanting to interview you the next day. They act unhappy when you tell them you plan on giving your current workplace a two weeks’ notice before you can begin work. These are all red flags that they’re not the sweet deal you might think they are.

They violate labor laws. They ask you inappropriate questions during the interview (“Are you pregnant/have kids?” “Do you believe in God?” Etc.) or sneak legally unenforceable language into your contract, such as not sharing your salary with your coworkers. This means they’re either stupid for running a business without knowing the law, they perceive you as stupid and believe you don’t know the law, or they just don’t care about breaking the law. If they’re doing this now, you can be sure they will do more of the same after you’re hired.

They require too many hoops be jumped through for a low-paying, dead-end job. Multiple interviews, multiple assessments, multiple kinds of background checks over months. They might be unreasonable employers looking for a unicorn to fill the role. Even if you get the job, you might find you’re miserable in the role.

Job duties are not clearly defined. This might mean they don’t have a clear vision for the role themselves. This might mean they need a Girl or Guy Friday whose job responsibilities will be loosely-defined and boundary-less. Either way, it’s important for you to know what you’re getting yourself into, and it’s important for them to communicate this in the job ad so as not to waste your time.

You find lots of bad reviews online or lawsuits related to them. This means others have “run the gauntlet” before you and serve as warnings so you don’t have to find out the hard way.

They are constantly posting ads. This means a high turn-over rate, which probably means it’s not the best place to work. If the job is as great an opportunity as what’s being advertised, why aren’t they able to keep employees?

They are open 24/7 hours or say something like “Monday to Friday job but we may need you some nights/weekends.” This could mean a poor work/life balance for you if you take this role.

The ad uses flowery, infomercial-like language like “Do you want unlimited earning potential? More freedom? Do you want to reach your dreams?” These are often commission-based sales jobs which will entail a lot more work than you might be expecting. There are usually two types of people in this job: the majority who “sink” and end up quitting or being fired, and those few who “swim”, who very often have the personality traits and connections that make them good at this type of work.

They promise very high income for little to no education/credentials. If anyone could do this job but the salary/wage is suspiciously high, it’s probably not a legit opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Very high qualifications are required for a low salary. They want something for nothing and have no intentions of treating you fairly.

Pay is commission-based with little or no base pay. This can be okay if you’re not in a position where you need to be making money immediately and where you’re already a great salesperson and the product/service you’re selling is something for which there is a high demand. Otherwise, you might put in a whole lot of time and effort for little to no pay. Also, these very often entail sales jobs where you have to come up with your own leads, which means bugging family, friends, and strangers in line at the grocery store. These jobs can be very lucrative, but it takes a certain specific type of person to feel comfortable in this role.

What red flags have you identified when job-hunting?

What the Jobs I’ve Held Have Taught Me About Myself

I’ve held several different jobs, in different fields. Some I have liked and felt were a good fit. Others I simply tolerated but did not feel comfortable doing or enjoy. I believe my experience is pretty typical of most workers. Here I’d like to consider the reasons behind why certain jobs were “right for me” and certain jobs weren’t. I think you can learn a lot about yourself based on the kinds of jobs you do well in and those you don’t, those that inspire you and those that drain you.

I have worked as a childcare professional, as both a private babysitter and in group settings (daycare and gym kids’ club). From this line of work, I have learned that I enjoy creativity in my job. For example, I got to make up games, do crafts, and make lots of cool things with Legos with the kids. However, the chaotic, unpredictable nature of children and working in child care do not jive with my spirit but instead cause me anxiety.

I have worked as a caregiver to the elderly via a senior care agency. I enjoyed the solo nature of this work —not having any coworkers—because I worked with private clients and generally in private homes. Even when I would go to a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital, I worked one-on-one with the client. I also really enjoyed hearing my elderly clients’ stories and life experiences from past eras, as I love history, and it intrigues me. However, similar to child care, it caused me great anxiety to have someone’s life in my hands or to have to respond quickly and competently to unexpected scenarios arising, such as dementia-related outbursts or medical emergencies. I am not great “on my feet” and feel much more secure when I have gotten the chance to prepare. Driving these clients (in my own car, no less) was also risky and stressful.

I have worked as a retail manager. I enjoyed, once again, the solo nature of this work. I worked in a tiny gift shop owned by an individual with two other managers in charge of the store. I worked second shift and was the only employee in the shop during my shift. Not even the owner was around unless he happened to drop by for a few minutes to take care of some business. I had great responsibilities including ordering stock, money- counting, ensuring shop security, etc. As a result, I took great pride in my job and enjoyed not being micromanaged by anybody. However, it was stressful not having anybody around to help when the shop was very busy or when I had to deal with irate customers.

I have worked as an at-home transcriptionist. The work was legal transcription of a court reporter’s audio files. It required incredible attention to detail and constant focus. I enjoyed using my grammar and spelling strengths in this position, the lack of coworkers and micromanagement, and the ability to take breaks when needed. I could stop early for the day and wake up to do work in the middle of the night if I wanted, as long as I got the work done by the deadline. However, the work was incredibly tedious and mentally-draining.

I have worked as a patient observer. This job was a non-medical position in a hospital emergency room that required me to do room searches and personal searches of patients deemed to be homicidal or suicidal, in order to protect everybody’s safety. It required me never to take my eyes off the patient and to ensure they didn’t have anything they could hurt themselves or others with, such as pens, scissors, or sheets (they might hang themselves). I was constantly pitted between what my supervisors wanted me to do and what the nurses on the floor wanted to be done, and this actually caused me to feel much greater anxiety and insecurity than working with violent patients.

Several years ago, I worked in a major corporate pharmacy chain for a day before quitting. I was hired as a retail associate and was required to do many tasks, including both stocking and cashiering. The training was minimal, most on the computer (so not very practical), and the job was absolutely chaotic. I’d be sitting on the floor stocking something on the bottom shelf when I’d be yelled at by someone to check the front counter because a customer (who I wasn’t able to see from my vantage point) was waiting to check out.

Several years ago, I worked for a major residential cleaning company for a week before realizing that kind of physical labor wasn’t going to be something I could stand on any kind of a consistent basis, and the pay scheme was such that you didn’t actually know how much you’d be paid.

I have worked as a live-in personal assistant. This was another job that allowed me great freedom over when I did my work and how I did my work. I worked for a woman who was the president of a company headquartered in NYC who needed me to cook, clean, do laundry, run errands, make/answer phone calls, and chauffeur herself and her teenage son. I had tons of free time during the day and could run errands of my own in-between. I would say in a 12-hour day I generally had about 2 hours’ worth of actual work to do. However, I felt a little trapped not being able to go back to my own home every night and feeling pressured to do things with the family members outside of my work hours.

My most recent job, up until Covid, was working a desk job in a call center. Although I had lots of coworkers, I rarely interacted with them because I was constantly on the phone doing work at my own cubicle. I have been working this job from home now since April. I enjoy interacting with members over the phone better than in-person, as it is less stressful for me. I enjoy that it is only inbound calls that I make and that it doesn’t include having to make any sales. However, it can be stressful dealing with computers and computer systems that don’t always work, as well as having to learn new systems and software from time to time.

I have learned from my work experiences that I don’t want to do emotional labor. It brings up too many feelings and memories of my own and I feel too great a responsibility for the person. I don’t want to be micromanaged but I do want to have the support there when I need it. I don’t like feeling as though my supervisors think I’m stupid, but I also don’t like feeling as though everything ultimately lies on my shoulders and I don’t have a sounding board. I like knowing what’s expected of me and having those expectations remain consistent. I don’t like being told contradictory information. I want to make sure I’m doing my job well. I like challenges but do not like being set up for failure. I appreciate jobs that are relatively routine but allow me to express my creative side and use my own discretion. I like doing my job but then also having a life separate from that job when the work day has ended. I don’t want work life bleeding into my “real” life. What have you learned about yourself based on the jobs you’ve held?

How to Rock a Job Interview

I know there’s already a million blog posts on the web regarding what to do and not to do in job interviews, but I figured, what would one million and one hurt? So here are some tips I have found helpful at rocking a job interview.

Always be positive. Especially when being asked about why you are leaving your current company, always give a positive answer regardless of what the truth is. Never bash a former employer. Don’t say your employer was unfair or corrupt or uncaring. Don’t say you got sick of the work that you did, even if it is a different type of work. You never know the person interviewing you and what their personal history is. For example, if you say, “I just really got tired of watching children and wanted to switch out of the childcare field”, they might start considering whether the daycare workers at their own child’s daycare actually enjoy their job or whether they dislike the work they do. Remember that people tend to feel about you the way you make them feel about themselves. You never know whose toes you might be stepping on if you allow any sort of negativity to enter your narrative. Always keep it positive. “I am looking for a new challenge” is one that always works.

Learn enough about the company to give some facts about it. You should know what they do and a little about their history. You should be able to explain how your experience, skills, and talents fit the role for which the company is hiring. Remember, it’s not about what they can do for you (“These hours work great for my my schedule”) but instead what you can do for them (“I have 5 years of experience in the position you’re advertising and have certifications proving I have the technical knowledge required for the job”).

If you’ve never done the job for which you’re interviewing, consider roles and responsibilities you’ve held in other jobs that are similar. Connect the dots for the interviewer so they see that you are in fact capable of handling the job duties. Express your passion to expand your knowledge and broaden your expertise in a certain field.

Ask questions. Employers want you to ask questions. That lets them know you’re interested in the position and that you’ll be a good fit. Ask more about what the position entails, what a typical work day looks like, what the company culture is like, and, if you’re interested, how easy it is to move up in the company. Employers like hearing that candidates are interested in moving up because that lets them know you’re looking to stay somewhere for a while instead of jumping ship in six months.

Look confident and capable. Big, broad smiles. Good posture — shoulders back, back straight. Strong handshake (assuming it’s an in-person interview and it’s not the Covid Era). Build rapport with the interviewer. Most communication happens through body language, not words, and most people leave an impression of themselves within seconds of meeting a stranger. You want the interviewer to have a good feeling when they think about you. This unconscious bias can help you score the job, or, alternatively, lose the opportunity.

These are some tips that I have found help me stand out from the crowd when interviewing for a job. I hope they help you. Please share any tips that you have found beneficial when job-hunting.

How to Deal With Bossy Coworkers

Has anyone had the experience of having a coworker that acts like a supervisor? Someone who tells you what you’re doing wrong, what you should be doing, tries to bully you into doing things more like they do them, etc? I have had someone like this at every job I’ve worked (excluding the positions I’ve worked where I didn’t have coworkers). Shout out to Sandy, Shanda, Summer, and Nicole! It can be maddening to have people attempt to direct you when they are in no position to do so. And considering most people work at least 40 hours a week, it can really have a negative impact on your life. However, I have found some productive ways to diffuse these situations.

Ignore them. They are not your supervisor, and so you do not owe them an answer of explanation for the way you do things. Be civil, but do not respond when they are attempting to put you on the defensive, criticize you, or change your work style.

Assess yourself honestly and consider if you’re in the wrong. Maybe you do need to change something regarding your job performance or the way you interact with others at work. Maybe you are being inconsiderate or violating work policies. Perhaps they are confronting you about it, giving you the chance to improve, before going to a supervisor because they don’t want you getting in trouble. Ask them to give specific examples of what they believe you’re doing wrong. They might have some merit. If they can’t give examples, you’ve called their bluff.

Keep your cool. By responding angrily, you will be the one who appears at fault, even if their stance has no merit. Don’t take the bait. Always take the high road.

Tell them to go to your supervisor. If you are doing nothing wrong and they continue to harass you, suggest they do not contact you anymore but instead go to your supervisor. If you are not in the wrong, their going to your supervisor will only make them look petty, foolish, jealous, and difficult.

I think there are different reasons for this type of bossy behavior. Some people are arrogant and believe they know more than you do. Some people are insecure and are going on the attack because it feels better than being on the defense. Some people are attempting to get the attention of the boss because they want to be promoted. Does anybody have other tips or tricks that have proven effective in dealing with a bossy coworker? If so, please share!

Why Job-Hopping Makes Sense

*Raises hand* “My name is WritingOne3583, and I am a job-hopper.” Job-hopping is typically defined as changing employers more often than every 1-2 years. We job-hoppers have a lot of negative stereotypes attached to us. We are assumed to be lazy, flighty, and undependable. But is this the reality? And are there any positives to job-hopping?

I’d like to start off by saying that it’s not true “Once a job-hopper, always a job-hopper”. There are many legitimate reasons for job- hopping, and people can find themselves in a position where they become a job-hopper when they’ve never been before. And they can find a dream position or employer where they end up staying the rest of their working career, although they’ve been a job-hopper in the past. In fact, most of the reasons people job-hop are due to situations outside of their control. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons workers job-hop.

People job-hop because companies no longer feel any kind of responsibility towards their employees, and corporate culture since the 80’s has been a “race to the bottom” to see just how much disrespect, abuse, and exploitation workers will take for the smallest amount of monetary compensation possible. Regulations and worker protections have been weakened and all but dismantled. Employees are no longer considered assets to a company, but instead liabilities. Pensions are only a reality in government jobs, with most Americans barely making enough to survive on, let alone being able to save for retirement, though working 40-60 hours a week. The only protections workers have nowadays are granted to those few lucky enough to work for the federal government or in unionized occupations. There are very few federal labor laws protecting private-sector employees. In most cases, employers can fire employees for any reason at all at any time except on the basis of certain federally-protected statuses (but even those protections are pretty much in name only considering it’s nearly impossible to prove when they’ve been violated). This can be a death sentence if unemployed for a while and in a state with few social safety nets. Unsurprisingly, workers who feel devalued are more likely to attempt to leave for elsewhere where they have a chance at being treated better.

We “working class heroes” (which, let’s be honest, with the disappearance of the middle class are pretty much all of us now except for the top ten percent) shouldn’t let ourselves be miserable for any length of time. This is not healthy mentally, emotionally, or physically. Working under a tyrannical boss or one who doesn’t appreciate you or who doesn’t take responsibility for their own shortcomings, will wear on you quickly. We all have one life, and if there are better opportunities available, we would be foolish not to take them.

Different roles/experiences will teach you what you enjoy and allow you to increase your skill set. By working in multiple positions, you are more likely to realize your own strengths and natural talents. Why waste years and years in a role that is a bad fit when you could be working somewhere that is more fulfilling? Developing your skill set could land you in a dream position somewhere you never thought possible.

You can make more money job-hopping. It is common knowledge nowadays that wages have not only stagnated for decades but actually fallen in some areas (especially taking inflation into account). Statistically, an employee’s wages will rise quicker and by a larger increment when that worker switches jobs than when they get a raise from their current employer. And many workers who have worked at the same place for years report not getting a raise at all or only getting a “cost of living” raise to make up for inflation. If you can immediately make more money elsewhere, perhaps even doing the same type of work, it makes good sense to “hop” on over to that new job.

There are some caveats to be aware of before making the decision to job-hop. You want to make sure you are in a position of strength when you leave your current job for a new one. Don’t be impulsive when you leave. Don’t let emotions sway you into making a rash decision. Plan. Make sure you don’t just assume the “grass is greener on the other side”. If so, circumstances might be the same at the new job and you might find yourself discontent once again. It might be wiser to apply for a different position or a promotion at your current employer than to “jump ship” completely. Of course, this probably won’t fix severe issues with communication or the ethics of a company. If the structure is rotten, it is definitely better to look for another employer, as foundational issues will infest the whole workplace at all levels, and you won’t be able to escape it. If possible, leave things amicable with your old employer. That way you can return in the future and won’t have any issues with references. Give a two-week notice.

Are you a job-hopper? If so, has it benefited you or harmed you?

Why I Don’t Want a Career/Salaried Position

Many Americans dream of being able to climb the corporate ladder and eventually make it to the top of the “pecking order” in their place of work. They dream of having power, authority, and a lot of money. However, I personally have no desire to have a career. Of course, considering I’m not independently wealthy, I am required to work in order to meet my needs. However, building a career is another thing entirely.

I’m not competitive. Careers typically require competition with others for credit, promotions, and raises. I don’t want to have to step on anybody else or have anybody step on me for money.

I don’t want to invest that much of myself into a job. I want to work to live, not live to work. I don’t want my job to be the focal point of my life. I don’t want my identity to be intertwined with what I do for a living. I want my work to make my life possible. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t want my work to matter or to be enjoyable.

I want to be paid for all my time. Most careers require you to be salaried (except for independent contracting, which comes with its own downsides). I don’t want my employer to own me to the extent they feel comfortable calling on me any day of the week, any hour of the day. If I put in more than my 40 hours, I want to be paid time-and-a-half for it. There are a lot of people in salaried positions who seem to make a high salary until you realize they routinely work 60+ hours a week.

I don’t want to manage others. Not all, but many, career positions require supervision of others. I don’t want to have to answer for anybody other than myself.

Does anybody reading feel the same way I do about having a career or have any of their own thoughts to add?

How to Write an Effective Employee Review

There are multiple sites available which allow current and former employees to review their job and employer. Two that I have used are Indeed and Glassdoor. These sites allow reviews of all kinds (within common-sense parameters) and claim not to delete or censore unfavorable reviews. Some parameters include people’s names cannot be used in a derogatory manner, probably to deter innocent people from being maligned, as well as the site from being sued. So you can complain about “management”, but not about “Susy”. Bad language is not allowed. Don’t use the sites to report crimes. I have written both largely-positive and largely-negative reviews about my workplaces and believe I have some wisdom to impart on the topic.

But why write a review in the first place? To begin, it helps others who might be considering applying to a certain job ad or company. I often search for reviews before applying, myself, concentrating especially on those reviews where the reviewer has specified that they hold/held the specific role in which I am interested. Second, writing a review can be used in lieu of talking to your bosses or coworkers directly, which could put you in a precarious position. Unless you belong to a union or have a contract, voicing a less-than-complimentary opinion about your workplace could result in your demotion or firing.

Now that we have gone over the motivations for writing a review about one’s work place, let’s cover what an effective review is and what it is NOT. First, an effective review is not emotionally charged. Rather, it is done at a time when logic rather than emotions are in control. For example, “This place sucks! Remember, I warned you!” is unhelpful, unconvincing, and makes the reader wonder if the writer is simply experiencing “sour grapes”. Instead, an effective review might include, “This workplace shorts me on my check every pay period”.

Second, it is not vague. Rather, it includes enough detail to convince the reader of your point and aid them in comprehension. For example, “This place is so unorganized” or “This job is my favorite one so far” is not effective, unless that is a topic sentence and you plan to elaborate further. Instead, an effective review might include, “Three times in the six months I have been working here, they called a meeting I was expected to attend, but never notified me of the date or time”. Granted, this might mean the review is rather long; however, it will be more helpful to readers.

Third, do not reference specific people. Not only will doing so ensure your review never actually makes it onto the site, but it can lead to drama you don’t want to have to deal with, especially if you cannot prove your assertions. For example, instead of saying, “Tom Smith sexually harassed me” or “Judy in HR did nothing about me being sexually harassed”, say “HR turned a deaf ear to me when I reported being sexually harassed by a coworker”.

Fourth, if you still work there, do not include any details that would give away it is you writing the review, unless of course you’re only saying positive things about the company. So if you’re the only one with a specific title (operations manager, for example) or the only one who doesn’t work Friday (and you post the review on a Friday), it will be obvious it is you.

Fifth, make sure to include your job title and location. A worker bee might have a very different experience than a higher-up. And a location in one area might have far different working conditions than another location.

Sixth, even if you hated a certain job or workplace, include the pros as well as the cons. Try to think objectively to include some pros because it will make your review more believable. After all, if there were no pros, you probably wouldn’t have stayed.

Seventh, realize that a company can petition the site’s records with a court order to identify who you are if they want to sue you for defamation. Especially in a situation where you are accusing them of breaking the law, make sure you have something to back it up. Defamation includes statements that can be proven to have hurt the business that are UNTRUE.

Eighth, check your spelling, grammar, and sentence syntax. A sloppily-written review will not be taken as seriously as a well-written one that makes it appear the writer took pride in their composition.

I am thankful that, especially in this day and age of degraded employee protections, we as workers have a safe, anonymous outlet to let others know about our on-the-job experiences. However, it is important to take advantage of this outlet in a healthful and responsible fashion.

Have you ever reviewed your company on one of these sites? What were your motivations and how did it make you feel afterwards? What was the outcome, if any?