What have I gotten myself into?
That is a question no employee wants to ask himself two or three months into a new role. Unfortunately, choosing the wrong job is a common mistake that young job seekers make when they focus more on getting a job offer than on finding a good fit.
As common as choosing the wrong job may be, it’s also something that can be prevented. If you’re thinking about accepting an offer, and you’ve noticed any of the warning signs below, then the job you’re so eager to take is not all it’s cut out to be.
You’ve read the job listing a couple of times, and you’re prepared to explain how your qualifications–strong communicator who can make extremely complex concepts simple–match those in the job description. But as you listen to your interviewer talk about the role, the list of responsibilities is getting longer: Some of the additional tasks seem to have nothing to do with the core job itself. The expected salary, unlike the responsibilities, hasn’t increased at all.
Though most job descriptions will indicate that hires are expected to perform “other duties as required,” you always want to know what you’re signing up for before you accept an offer. Are the new responsibilities simply a chance for you to gain new skills? Or is the growing list indicative of the fact that your role may become a dumping ground for “other duties as required”? You also have to ask yourself if the additional tasks seem better suited for a completely different position at the company, and if so, why hasn’t that position been created to fill the need?
Ask the employer more questions about how he or she views this role, how some of the extra responsibilities fit into the bigger picture, and how you’re expected to divide your time amongst the tasks. If you feel that the role you are applying for has gotten lost in the other responsibilities–or that you aren’t being fairly compensated for taking on several roles at once–this may not be the job for you.
As valuable as it is to discover your career survival skills after being thrown into the deep end, your manager and the company should be setting you up for success through learning and development opportunities–especially if you’re a young employee. Whether it’s bringing in influential professionals to speak to team members or setting aside a budget for employees to take courses outside of work, you should feel like your new company is investing in your development.
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If you find that there are no learning opportunities in place, and you’re just expected to sink or swim, consider if you’re prepared to fight through your new role alone.
Even if you have a nebulous view of your career path, there are clear signs that a role might be a step backwards instead of forwards. For example, if you want to hone in on your problem-solving skills, and you’re taking on a role that only requires you to go through the motions, that job isn’t aligning with your career goals.
In my experience, some employers will even hint that the job might not be what you’re looking for, saying, “I just want to be transparent with you since other candidates have been disappointed in the past” and even, “This role might be a step down for you.” If your interviewer is telling you to think twice about taking the job, it’s a definite red flag: He or she already knows you won’t be satisfied in the role.
High turnover is a troubling sign, especially if the business isn’t a young one. It could be indicative of poor management or a toxic culture.
Once you receive a job offer, ask the employer direct questions like, “What’s something employees wish they could improve about this company?” or “Has the business experienced any recent growing pains, and if so, how was that handled?” If you don’t receive an adequate response to your questions–as in, the employer makes excuses or begins to bad mouth former employees–start looking for a new job elsewhere.
For young job seekers who want to rise quickly through the ranks, it’s important to know that there is a long-term plan in place for your role. If your interviewer isn’t asking questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are your long-term career goals?” take control. Ask questions like, “How do you see this role evolving six months or a year down the line?” or “What do you think success will look like in this role a year from now?” If your interviewer can’t give you an answer different from what the role is today, you could be signing yourself up for a dead-end job.
While it’s important for young job seekers to make an educated decision about a new role, choosing the wrong job can also help you to better understand what to look out for in the future. Reflect on the signs you missed and use your hindsight to position yourself for a far better offer next time around.