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Stop! Watch Out For These 10 Red Flags in Your New Job

You’ve finally found a job and have accepted an offer. Maybe it’s an offer you’re extremely excited about. Or maybe it’s an offer you took just to have a paycheck until the right job comes along.

Either way, it’s important to beware of any red flags you may notice in the first 90 days of your new job. These are things you DO NOT want to ignore!

What are those red flags?

Author and president of MathCelebrity Don Sevcik gives a great answer to this question. He’s spent over 20 years in what he calls “the corporate America cube farm” for a variety of companies, including Fortune 500 companies, mid-level companies, and start-ups.

Here are his thoughts on ten red flags you shouldn’t ignore.

The following list was originally published on Quora by author and business owner, Don Sevcik. He graciously allowed me to publish it here under a new format.

#1 of 10 Red Flags

Has your job, in the first few weeks, suddenly morphed into something different from the job role on your employment contract?

And, if you call management out on it, do they use silly phrases like not “being flexible”?

Congratulations! You’ve found your first red flag.

Note: if you learn nothing else from this post, “Flexible” and “Team Player” are code for “do more work, but don’t expect to get paid for it.”

Learn this quickly. Because the most important thing every morning is waking up, looking in the mirror, and being able to respect yourself.

Red Flag #2

If you work in a job as a “doer,” such as developer, builder of things, etc., do you find yourself booked up in many meetings?

Consider this red flag #2.

“Doers” should not be in too many meetings. Because (gasp!) they need time to actually do stuff.

If management cannot squash this early so you can do what you do best, you’ve found yourself at a mis-managed company.

Red Flag #3

In the first few weeks of joining a company, do you notice lots of “cliques” and keep running into “unexpected, unspoken rules”?

If so, you’ve dug up another red flag.

I remember years ago working at a company doing development. In my interview, I was crystal clear when I said, “I don’t like filling out a lot of paperwork to push code. I just want to code, test quickly, and push it out there.”

Alas, three weeks after getting hired, management “revealed” that every code push needs a three-page document filled out, a web form filled out, and three layers of approval just to get a change in. It was ridiculous.

The more red tape, the bigger the red flag.

Red Flag #4

Does your company push “social-time” off hours and unnecessary get-togethers? Do they overly push charities and social justice groups?

Congratulations, you’ve found another red flag.

Nowhere in any standard employment contract anywhere should it state you must be active with charity or social justice causes if you choose not to be.

Note from Lori: some of these events can be good in building your network and in giving back to the community. I think what Don is trying to say here is when it gets to be so much that it takes time away from your family or causes undue stress, then beware of this. The operative word in his statement is “unnecessary.”

Red Flag #5

Does your company value “in-office” time more than they do results and accomplishments during your work hours?

If so, you’ve found another archaic, and detrimental red-flag.

If I get eight hours of work done in two hours, then what I do after that shouldn’t matter. Because, it’s not like corporate will pay you more for additional effort.

Great bosses will let you leave early and give flex time when you pump out work quickly.

Red Flag #6

Do scheduled meetings always run over time, or start late, or both?

Time wasters are another red flag.

Also, meetings, especially corporate meetings, are notorious for posturing and politics. And if you aren’t a fan of meetings like me, then this is a HUGE red flag.

Meetings should have an agenda, allow no rambling, and get to the point quick. As in, who is doing what, who needs help, and when can we expect things to get done.

That’s it. No more.

Red Flag #7

Are you having a hard time finding a document about annual raises and bonuses? As in, you do “x” and “y”, and this is how you advance. And when you ask about it, does your manager hem and haw or avoid the subject?

You can find this red flag in 90% or more corporate jobs.

Red Flag #8

Do most people at or above your level use unnecessary buzz words to describe something? As in, can you find a word from grade 5 to grade 7 on the Flesch-Kincaid reading level to replace their silly buzzword, and not only keep the meaning of what they were trying to say, but enhance it?

Congratulations, you’ve found another red flag.

The key to communication is simplicity and clarity. And buzzwords violate both those rules.

If we can’t have a simple conversation about “my contract” and not my “annual incentive protocol,” then that’s a problem.

Red Flag #9

Are the dumbest people in the company promoted and are the superstars passed over or marginalized?

You’ve uncorked another red flag.

And this, like red flag #7, happens at 90% or more of corporate companies. It’s red flag football, and you never score a touchdown.

#10 of 10 Red Flags

Does your new company change “direction” every 2–4 weeks?

Pat yourself on the back detective. You’ve found another red flag.

If management cannot figure out what to do, and they get paid large coin to do one job, then you’ve found yourself in an insane asylum. Best to pull the cord and exit stage left.

Pay Attention to the Red Flags

Thank you to Don for sharing these warning signs.

I don’t promote continuing to interview for jobs after accepting an offer. But, I do recommend you keep your finger on the pulse of your new company and your eyes open for a back-up plan if things don’t work out in the first 90 days.

This includes maintaining your networking relationships and staying active on LinkedIn.

Even if you’ve done all the research you could possibly do before accepting an offer, there’s always a chance things will change.

Your supervisor could change due to a promotion or transfer.

Your role could change due to a merger or acquisition.

Anything can happen. So pay attention to the red flags!

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