Tag: job search


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!

Related Posts:

red flags

Are Career Fairs Worth Your Time and Energy?

I’m not sure why career fairs still exist. Many are so ineffective for both candidates and recruiters. Yet companies continue to pour more money into them and candidates continue to pour more time into them.

Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on registration fees, travel, fancy displays, swag, and more to participate in career fairs. Often recruiters end up disappointed in the talent pool. Especially if they don’t stick around for the duration of the fair. (And from my past experience in hosting career fairs at the colleges I used to work at, many recruiters either showed up late or left early – or both!)

Job seekers spend hours putting together a resume that doesn’t allow them to target one specific job or company. They also spend their energy trying to perfect an elevator pitch that doesn’t really work. They typically walk away with a bag full of chintzy promo items and no real opportunities of interest.

Time Better Spent

The type of career fairs worth your time

Since career fairs do still exist, there are some it makes sense for job seekers to attend. This is only true however when you choose to attend those as specific in nature as possible.

This can include a career fair hosted just for a certain industry or just for certain job functions. Like a fair just for coding jobs or companies seeking coders.

It can also include fairs hosted just by one particular company for all their open positions. If there’s a specific company you’re interested in working for or getting your foot in the door with, it makes sense for you to spend your time attending their own career fair.

If you’re interested in a particular role, then it makes sense to attend fairs focused on recruiting for this role.

It’s not worth your energy to attend large, massive, “open-call” fairs which are general in nature. You know these type of fairs. They’re usually announced on the 6:00 news and held at your local NFL stadium or other large venue. They’re like cattle calls for any and all recruiters and candidates. It’s very hard to stand out from a crowd so large.

Also, if you’re an experienced candidate looking for mid-level professional positions, you’re likely to only find entry-level or non-professional positions available at these larger fairs.

How to make career fairs worth your time

If you do hear about a career fair that sounds like it could be worth your time, there are some things you need to do on your part to get the most out of it.

First, you want to find out exactly what companies will be in attendance or what specific roles recruiters are looking to fill. This is usually easy to find. The event’s web site typically lists who’s attending and what they’re hiring for.

You then want to use this information to be strategic in your attendance. Rank which booths are most important to you to visit and determine what order you should visit those booths. If you know you become less nervous and communicate better after taking some time to talk to others, save your preferred booths until later so you’ve had a chance to loosen up.

When you discover on the event’s site a specific job you really want, create a resume tailored to the job using some of the same language and keywords found in the job description. If you’re interested in multiple positions with a particular company, tailor your resume to the company using some of the same keywords found in their mission statement and core values. This will require you to do a deep-dive of the company’s web site and job listings.

Make sure you keep your targeted resumes separated from any general resumes you bring with you. You want to ensure you’re handing out the right one to the right people.

It’s always a good idea to have some general resumes on hand even if you plan to only visit the booths you’re interested in. You never know when a recruiter from a company you hadn’t previously considered wants to talk to you. And you might become interested in their opportunities. How bad would it look if they asked for your resume and you didn’t have one to hand them?

Finally, you want to stand out from your competition. You do this by talking less about yourself, and listening more to the company and their needs. One of the best questions you can ask a recruiter at a career fair is,

“What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had in finding the talent you’re seeking?”

This question makes you stand out because it speaks to a recruiter’s pain point and shows you’re empathetic to their side of the issue.

It also helps you gather the information you need to know how you might be able to help solve their problem. Use their answer to determine which of your skills you should emphasize in future interviews. Use it also to determine what areas you need to improve upon between now and your future interviews.

Replace the lame, over-done elevator pitch with this question and you’ll be a breath of fresh air to tired and frustrated recruiters.

Better alternatives to career fairs

If you still find career fairs to be a waste of your time, there are other (and usually better) alternatives.

Many companies host or sponsor local events like panels or talks on industry-related topics. These events are typically open to anyone with an interest in those topics. When you attend such events you not only increase your knowledge of the industry, you also get to be in the same room with company representatives.

These are the people you should make a point to introduce yourself to. Let them know how valuable the event was for you and thank them for making it happen. Then from this introduction, nurture and foster the relationship like you would any other networking relationship.

I remember attending a panel on a topic I was interested in learning more about. I had no idea who was sponsoring it until I got there. After the panel was over, I found myself in a conversation with the VP of the company sponsoring the event. A month later, he hired me to do some contract work for his company.

You never know what can happen at these events! Even if you don’t make a connection, you at least learn something while there instead of walking away with nothing to show for your time.

And if you do make a connection that leads to a job interview, you’ll stand out by being able to say you were at the event. This will show your genuine interest in the industry and in growing your knowledge.

Other alternatives to career fairs can include company open-houses, job shadowing opportunities, informational interviews, and more. To find such opportunities, sometimes you have to dig through Eventbrite’s calendar or a company’s press releases or Twitter announcements. Sometimes all you have to do is simply ask.

Companies would fare better in finding great talent by hosting more events like these. They will attract the kind of talent that’s serious about their company and their company’s core values. And it will be a better return on their investment of time and money.

Maybe by you simply asking a company if they have any such events will give them the idea to do more of them!

Related Posts:

career fairs

Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking

Networking is necessary not just for a successful job search, but also for a successful career as a whole.

In fact it’s so important you should spend 80% of your job search networking and only 20% applying to online job postings.

This is because 80% of the working population found their current job through networking. Therefore it makes sense to spend the same amount of time on the most effective job search method there is.

But unfortunately, most people have it backwards and only spend 20% (if that) of their job search networking.

Based on the suggestion above, you may need to re-adjust how you currently invest your time in your job search.

But, this doesn’t mean you should overthink your networking efforts.

Stop Overthinking Networking

When I’m coaching my clients on various aspects of the job search, I’ll often get questions about how to write something on a resume or how to respond to a specific job interview question. When I answer those questions, the client usually doesn’t have to ask the same question again.

But when it comes to the topic of networking, I’ll get a question from a client on how to find contacts or how to reach out to them. When I answer those questions, the same client will often ask the same question again, sometimes in a different way.

When this happens, I can tell they’re way overthinking things. They’re doing so either because they think it should be more complicated than it actually is, or they’re afraid of what other people will think of them. Sometimes it’s both. Usually it’s the latter.

One of the most common examples of “overthinking it” is the question, “What if I reach out to that person and I don’t hear back from them?”

You know what? You may not hear back from them. Is this a reflection on you as a person? NO! It’s more of a reflection on the contact. That is assuming nothing simple happened like your voicemail getting accidentally deleted or your email ending up in their spam folder.

And you may not hear back from them now, but perhaps later.

I remember emailing someone and not hearing back from him until THREE YEARS LATER! When he finally did reply, my original message was included in his reply. I looked back at my first message and saw a few things things I would’ve done differently in my approach.

But he was kind and said he always held on to emails like mine in case he was ever looking to hire someone with my skills. And so he did hire me to work with one of his clients. It turned out his timing was better than my timing.

So you may not hear back when you’d like, or you may not hear back at all.

But there’s one thing I can guarantee. You’ll never hear back from the person you don’t reach out to.

Are you really okay with wondering “What if?” the rest of your career?

Are you okay with missing out on a potentially great contact just because of fear of no response?

Because remember, no response doesn’t always equal rejection. It could just mean bad timing. Which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to follow up one or two times again. (Follow-up is another area I see clients overthinking.)

Instead Be Strategic (and Reasonable)!

When I say “Stop overthinking networking,” understand I’m not giving you license to not be strategic in your networking.

It’s important to know your reason for networking, who it makes the most sense to reach out to, how to explain to them why you’re reaching out to them, and how you can be an asset to them as well.

Therefore, you must also be reasonable.

Be reasonable in your expectations. Don’t expect someone to offer you a job right off the bat. You need to take the time to build and nurture the relationship first before you can expect any immediate tangible results.

Occasionally you might see some immediate results, but usually it takes persistence and consistency. This is why you need to spend 80% of your job search networking. It takes time!

Also, be reasonable in your requests. Don’t expect someone to drop everything to connect with you or to spend all their time talking with you. Don’t expect them to cater to your needs when you’re the one asking for their help or expertise.

Instead, do everything you can to make networking and connecting with you as easy and pleasurable as possible. This may mean driving out of your way to their offices for an informational interview instead of meeting at a location more convenient to you. It may mean getting up extra early to meet with them at 6:30 in the morning before their busy schedule begins.

Networking Resources

I could write a book about networking and the ins and outs of networking etiquette (and someday soon I might!). I’ve already written several other posts about networking, including the best way to write an elevator pitch (yet another thing people overthink!).

But what I want to emphasize in this post is to stop overthinking networking by not letting fear take over. Don’t let fear, whether it’s fear of rejection or fear of failure, get in the way of making a meaningful connection that can have a long-term positive impact on your career.

Always be fearless, reasonable, and respectful.

For more posts and resources on the topic of networking, check out the following:

stop overthinking networking

Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now

Have you ever been ghosted? You know what I’m talking about, when someone unexpectedly ceases all communication with you with no explanation. It’s almost like they dropped off the face of the earth.

This phenomenon typically happens in personal relationships such as romantic liaisons or fledgling friendships.

But it now also exists in working relationships, including the job search. While it’s extremely unprofessional, it does happen.

Job interview ghosting

Most of the time it happens following an interview process. A candidate spends time going through a cumbersome online application process, researching the company, preparing for the interview, traveling to the interview, and sweating through the interview.

The candidate is told at the end of the interview they’ll hear something soon. Then they hear nothing but crickets.

They follow up first with a thank you letter like every good candidate should after an interview.

Still nothing but crickets.

The next week they email to find out if a decision has been made.

Still more crickets.

Another week later they call, only for that call to go unanswered.

This has probably happened to you at one point in your career or another.

It’s happened to me before too, both after a job interview and with a couple of potential clients.

There’s no way to know the reason for the ghosting. All you can do is follow up one more time and then move on.

Console yourself by realizing you probably dodged a bullet since you likely wouldn’t want to work for someone who treats people this way.

What to do next time: a preemptive strike

In your next interview, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself from ghosting, or at least reduce the chances of being ghosted.

This begins in the very first interview. When it’s your turn to ask questions, one of your questions should be about the timeline for the hiring process.

You want to be as specific as possible in your question in order to receive a specific answer. For instance, instead of asking “When do you plan to conduct second-round interviews?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for scheduling second-round interviews?”

“Is that deadline firm?” and

“Are you going to let those who didn’t make it to the second round know they won’t be moving forward?”

In the final round of interviews, instead of asking “When do you plan to make a hiring decision?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for making an offer?”

“How firm is that deadline?” and

“Are you  going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy or just the person receiving the offer?”

These questions are for your own sanity so you can know what to expect and so you’re not sitting around wondering why you haven’t heard anything back.

Click here to find out what other questions you should ask in an interview.

Know when to move on

Keep in mind however that sometimes companies tend to underestimate how long the interview process might take them. Or, deadlines might get pushed back due to other priorities in the company.

Continue to follow up 1–2 weeks after their original deadline.

If after that you still haven’t heard anything, assume they either hired someone else or put a freeze on the hiring process. 

Then move on.

And try not to take it personally so you can maintain your confidence. You have to keep your confidence in tact as best you can for your next interview.

Other things you can do:

There are several other things you can do to reduce your chances of being ghosted.

First, avoid doing the things that irritate hiring managers and recruiters. For instance, don’t be late for your interview and don’t be dishonest in your answers or give canned answers.

More importantly, don’t interview for a job you don’t intend to take just to get interview practice. This is unethical and word could easily get around in your industry about you doing such a thing.

Also, indicate at the end of the interview you want the job. So many people fail to say they want the job. Those who do increase their chances of getting the call with the offer.

Next, send a thank you letter to each person you interviewed with, reiterating your interest and what you have to offer the company.

Finally, even if you’ve been ghosted by a company, don’t do the same thing to another company. Just because unemployment is at an all-time low and you may have your pick of offers, this doesn’t give you an excuse to ghost recruiters or hiring managers.

Conclusion

While you can’t completely prevent a company from ghosting you after your interview, using some of the strategies above can help reduce your chances of it happening.

Related posts:

ghosted

How to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable (Until You Can Leave)

Most of the places I’ve worked at in my career have been wonderful places of employment.

However, there was one college I worked for that had low staff morale campus-wide. I provided career services for the students, but oftentimes faculty and staff would come to my office seeking job search help for themselves.

One of the perks of working for a college or university is your children get to attend tuition-free. The staff members coming to me were the ones who had stuck it out until their children graduated, and were now ready to move on.

Because of the low staff morale, they lacked passion in their job. Some weren’t even sure anymore what they were passionate about.


Are You Tied to Your Current Job?

This is something I also hear today from potential clients.

People often contact me because they want to find their passion and either get a job they can feel passionate about, or start their own business related to their passions.

However, they feel tied to their current job and don’t see a way out.

At least not yet.


Have you found yourself in this situation?

If you can’t leave your current job yet, there are ways to cope until you can develop an exit strategy.

You may even be able to recapture your passion, or discover new passions by trying some of these simple suggestions.


8 Ways to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable

1. Eat lunch away from your desk.

No matter how busy you are, be protective of your personal time, even if you only get a half-hour lunch.

If the weather’s nice outside, go eat at a picnic table or under a tree.

If you can’t get outside, eat lunch by a window.


2. Have lunch with some of your favorite co-workers.

Set a rule that you won’t discuss anything negative or anything related to work during those 30 to 60 minutes.


3. Get a little exercise.

Spend part of your lunch or your break taking a quick walk around the building or doing some stretching exercises.

This will get your blood pumping and lighten your mood.


4. Volunteer to serve on a committee.

Every company has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.

Find one that matches your interests or goals and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it (1 to 4 hours per month).

Doing this will get you out of your daily routine and your everyday surroundings, introduce you to new people in other departments, give you purpose, and build your resume for when you’re ready to leave.


5. Ask to represent your office at a conference.

There may be money in the budget to send you to a local, regional, or even national conference.

Not only will this provide you professional development, it will also expand your network and bring you a change of scenery from your current geographic location.

If you can’t attend a several-day conference, see if you can attend a one-day drive-in conference or luncheon.

A day away from the office while still being productive can help cure some of the doldrums.


6. Take a class.

Your company may offer some continuing education opportunities you can take advantage of.

If not, your local community will have numerous classes available to learn a new skill or hobby.

This is especially important to make time for (1 to 2 hours per week for only a few weeks) if you’re no longer sure what your interests or passions are.


7. Update your resume.

Make a list of all your accomplishments you’ve made in your current job and add them to your resume.

Taking an inventory of this builds your confidence in your skills which in turn gives you the courage to start looking for something new.

Just make sure you do this on your own time and not company time.


8. Stay focused

Stay focused on the things you like about your current job.

Look for other opportunities that have those same positives.


Take the Next Step

I encourage you to come up with some of your own ideas.

I also encourage you to not let yourself stay stuck.

Recognize when it’s time to seek something new and start working toward it now.

You want to be ready to move when the time opens up for you to do so!

Related Posts:

sucky job