After months of researching, applying, and interviewing, nothing is more relieving than finally getting that dream job offer. Even though you’re fresh out of college with minimal job experience, they’re promising you a six-figure salary, the ability to work from home once a week, and free trips to Mexico should you meet your goals.
Although you’ve been doing all of the reaching out, the company seems really interested in bringing you on, despite not yet having an in-person interview. Out of eagerness you’re ready to sign the offer letter. They haven’t sent you one, but that’s okay, you can just give them your social security number and bank statements over the phone.
Sound like a plan? No! If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that there are many red flags in this particularly dire example of a hiring process that should steer you clear of accepting the job.
It’s important to be mindful of vagueness, verbal agreements, an eagerness to hire, and personal data requests early on, as these could indicate that the company is fraudulent, has a toxic environment, or otherwise may not be what it seems.
Here, two career experts walk through 10 potential warning signs that your dream job offer is too good to be true, and that you should avoid the opportunity at all costs:
An unreasonably high salary is a common sign that the job may not be what it seems, according to career expert Eileen Sharaga.
“This could be a sign that nobody wants the job because the conditions are toxic,” she says. “They could be desperate to hire and will need you to solve an immediate problem.”
“Steer clear of companies that make verbal promises to you but won’t put them in writing,” Sharaga said. “This almost always translates to unfulfillment.”
Plus, there’s no physical evidence of the verbal commitment, so the company can’t be held responsible for not following through.
“If they don’t have the answers to your questions, this could be a red flag,” Sharaga said.
These questions may include details about your job responsibilities, the company’s work environment, when you would start, or where the company’s headed in 10 years.
According to Sharaga, vageness signifies disorganization and instability.
“A company that seems eager to hire you will want an answer right away and want you to start immediately,” Sharaga said. “This can be a sign that they’re desperate and haven’t done their due diligence to find the right fit.”
A company that’s hiring for the right reasons will interview multiple candidates and will issue an offer to the person they want to bring on, according to Debra Wheatman, C.P.R.W. and certified careers coach at Careers Done Write. Then, they’ll allow you to take the time to think about your next steps instead of making you decide immediately.
Formal, face-to-face interviews allow you to get a sense of your company’s intentions and work environment.
“I had a client who got a job offer from a France-based company making, for what the job was, an incredibly high amount of money,” Wheatman said. “The company claimed to be expanding their business to the US, so my client did not have an in-person interview. They spoke over the phone and requested her personal information and social security number in order to move forward with the hiring process. This was an instance of attempted fraud. You’ll always want to avoid accepting an offer without an in-person interview.”
According to Wheatman, if you’re doing all of the follow-up with the company — calling them first and constantly checking in for updates — usually there’s a problem. “This could signify that the company is disorganized and may not have much respect for their employees,” she said.
“Companies could have high turnover rates for many reasons, such as they may hire entry-level employees that move on, they hire minimum-wage employees, or other companies are offering more money for the same job,” Sharaga said. “If a company has a high turnover rate due to poor management or a toxic work environment, that’s a reason to consider an alternative company.”
“If they’re requesting your social security information and bank statements early on in the hiring process with no offer, this could be a sign that the company is fraudulent,” Wheatman said. “This kind of personal data is highly confidential and sensitive. If someone gets your social security number, you could be dealing with the consequences for the rest of your life.”
“If they’re asking you for money to start the job, this immediately raises concern,” Wheatman said. According to Wheatman, they may tell you to front X amount of dollars to be able to set up the business, and then you’ll start making a big salary. “You shouldn’t be providing any money in the hiring process,” she added.
“You’ll know when something isn’t quite right intuitively,” Wheatman said. “If you feel that way during the hiring process, nine times out of 10 you’re correct and should seek job opportunities elsewhere.”