Watch Out for These 5 Job Description Red Flags

 A job description is the first insight you will gain into a company and it’s more telling than you might think. While most job descriptions read as a robot wrote them, they’re written by humans you could potentially be working with if you land that job.

I am currently working with a client who wants to pivot industries. I asked him to collect 5 job descriptions for his desired title. The following clip is from one of the posts:

This company put a “bonus” section at the very end of their job post to share “a few things we love”. At the top of this list are “workhorses”.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting dependable, hardworking applicants to apply to your job, workhorses are often taken advantage of. These are people who pick up the slack when others fall short because they are the most dependable.

In addition, this list also includes three different statements pushing the narrative that the company “loves” someone who will find solutions on their own. Initially, this makes me question how much guidance will be provided at this company. Yikes.

Many of us read an exciting job post and apply right away! Then we get to our first day and find that not everything about the company and job is what they were made out to be. This could’ve been avoided if we had looked a little closer at the job description.

Here are 5 job description red flags that should have you reconsider your application if spotted:

1. Buzzwords such as “high energy” and “highly motivated”.

Any potential candidate should be motivated to perform their duties well. When an employer takes the time to point that out, their employee turnover is worth investigating.

If you’ve worked on any team, ever, you’d know that a person’s energy levels have little to nothing to do with their performance. High energy does not equate to high performance and vice versa.

2. Language that implies overworking.

Take a close look at a job description that mentions “occasional nights and weekends” even though it’s for a salaried, 40-hour job. If there’s no mention of overtime pay or flexible scheduling, you could potentially find yourself working nights and weekends often. These employers will try to get you to work for free and it will be hard to set a boundary otherwise without shoving employment guidelines in their face.

3. Leadership responsibilities without the title.

Job descriptions that want employees to be willing to take on leadership responsibilities within their team for a non-managerial role should be skipped. This kind of language speaks to those who are looking to be in charge, but it usually means the company wants a manager for the price of a lower-level employee!

4. Urgent hires and job openings that never seem to close.

If a company is constantly hiring for the same position, this could be an indicator that they have a high turnover rate and can’t keep employees for too long. Of course, this doesn’t apply to companies that are hiring multiple of the same position. If you see the same position popping up throughout your job search you might want to confirm with reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

5. Wording that refers to the company or team as a “family”.

It seems this job post misspelled “toxic”. Families constantly cross boundaries, display favoritism, and engage in gossip. Does this sound like a place you’d like to work?

Employers describe their work environment as a “family” to make you feel comforted, welcomed, and even loved in the hopes that you will do anything for them — much like they think you would for family. This is an absurd expectation because unless you do work with your family, you will probably never view work in that capacity.

The same way your parents or family expect the best from you. In turn, you will feel pressure to perform and while that will fuel some, it’s not a sustainable environment. Working under such circumstances for too long can only be detrimental to employees.

For those people who oversee the writing of job descriptions for upcoming openings, consider the language you are using to attract talent. Aim to use honest language that accurately describes the team and company to set more realistic expectations of applicants.

If you are on the job hunt, take a closer look at prospective job descriptions before hitting “apply”. While it might be challenging to find the right fit, keep in mind that this is a unique time in the job force where there are more openings than there are employees! Don’t be afraid to be pickier than usual for your next job.

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