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We got a spicy list today. We’re going to look at some really bad jobs and list 9 things to avoid. And some of the jobs we’re going to look at are just ridiculously bad.

There are so many crappy jobs out there, and I’ve had a few, simply because I didn’t know what to look for. When I was a junior I just took the first job I could and that gave me trouble. Overwork, doing stuff I didn’t signed up for and stress, confused what was expected of me and what I should do. And I while I have responsibility for my own actions I will partially blame that on the bad working environment because when you work for money you sometimes don’t have a choice.

You can reduce the risk of getting in such a situation with some knowledge in reading job lists. So I want to talk about a few red flags when searching for jobs.

Of course, nothing stops you from taking a bad job and actively looking for a better one. Looking for better work is what we should always do. Having an income, having something to do is better than just sitting at home and watching your bank account drain slowly. Sometimes it’s better to take a bad job and just try to stomach it while looking for something better, so don’t be discouraged to do that.

Okay, I got 9 red flags to look out for when looking for a job, so here we go.

1st

Multiple and vague role descriptions, like IT Support Specialist/Data Analyst or the classic “Other duties as needed”. If the company has no clear idea what you’re gonna do they can make you do anything. If there’s nothing contractual or a job description to fall back on as to what your duties are if they start making you take out the trash, wash the floors, drive the CEOs girlfriend to the shopping mall, seriously I’m not kidding. If there’s no clearly defined and documented description of your job role you have no way good way to defend yourself against ridiculous tasks. So avoid multiple and vague role descriptions.

2nd

Requirements that don’t fit the job “Looking for a .NET Developer”-Requirements: 5 years in Python and Bash Scripting. This means that the job listing was likely written by an HR person that has no understanding of the needs of the company or meaningful communication with the programming department. So in reality you have no idea what this job is about and nothing can be trusted on the page. So avoid strange requirements.

They are super confused about what they want, and so you have no idea either what they really want.

3rd

No posted salary range. More common on Europe than in the US.
I hate this so much in Europe. Don’t waste my time as an employee, don’t waste your time as employer. If I get to an interview and all is fine and we all agree and you tell me that I’ll have to take a huge salary decrease from my current job then you could have just told me from the beginning and we wouldn’t have wasted both our time.
Since posting salary ranges in the US is more common I would just skip it entirely, that’s just really shady. So avoid no posted salaries.

Your salary is ALWAYS negotiable. Writing this is useless. This just means that they don’t want to commit and that means they want to give you as little as possible.

4th

Low posted salary. Besides the obvious fact that you don’t get paid much, these people have probably no understanding of the fact that it’s worth paying someone skilled. A very skilled programmer can have many times the output of a less skilled one. This workplace will attract desperate, low quality employees that accepts low pay and it probably won’t be a good place to learn. It’s worth fighting and signing up for high paying jobs even if you don’t think you’re qualified. You might just get to an interview and then anything can happen. So avoid low posted salaries.

5th

Emergency or urgent posts. This means that the place is on fire and the last guy responsible left in a hurry due to giving up or wasn’t being able to handle it anymore.
They will take anyone and they don’t care about quality. They just want a guy immediately. All responsibility will be placed on you, you’ll be blamed for mistakes you didn’t make or couldn’t avoid due to bad code or infrastructure that just blows up, you’ll be stressed, overworked and everything will be frustrating. So avoid emergency posts at all costs and it’s a massive red flag. You can see that red flag from the moon!

Oh god, they’re making military defensive technology using JavaScript. I’m not going to go on a rant about JavaScript, but the type conversions, the scoping and unexpected behavior makes it a very poor choice for very critical software like this. Avoid.

6th

Easy Acceptance. So the emergency principle also goes for jobs that generally has an easy acceptance. Perhaps the interview of technical interview was easy to pass despite you making a lot of mistakes or you felt like you wouldn’t fit at all in that company. Things are rarely so easy and free in getting a job. So what is the cost for you? In reality, the company are desperate and take the first guy that accepts. They are desperate for someone to do anything to fix their mess and you will pay with stress, overtime and unrealistic responsibility. So easy acceptance is a red flag.

7th

Rock star, all star. You’ll have very high expectations on you, it’s similar to the Multiple Role Descriptions problem. You’ll be expected to do everything and never make mistakes. We all make mistakes, we must help each other, and balance each others weaknesses and strengths. To demand someone to go in and fix everything with perfect rock star skills is ridiculous and such a person doesn’t exist. And if you try to be one you’ll be in big trouble once you make a mistake.

8th

Repeated leavers. Look over previous job listings for a company. If the history shows the same position being open multiple times then avoid for sure. it means that they’ve had trouble filling this position either because their requirements are absurd or the job is so bad that people repeatedly are leaving. So repeated and identical postings is a red flag.

9th

Unlimited PTO – Unlimited Paid Time Off or Unlimited Vacation. It means that the company theoretically allows you to take as much paid vacation as you want. This is just a bait to get you interested in joining. You’ll have to file a request to get paid time off, and guess what, you’ll be denied and it ain’t gonna happen. Did you expect to sit at home and just rake in cash? This is on the level of internet advertisement scams. You know, “single moms at home makes $1000 a day with this easy trick”.
It’s just something to drag you in with a false promise and then be used as a argument to make you work harder to “make up” for the unlimited PTO perk you are so graciously given, while you are never allowed to use it in practice.
If something seems too good to be true then it usually is, especially when money is involved. So unlimited PTO is a red flag.

Look at these guys… 3.1 star rating, unlimited PTO
Competitive salary.. but no salary range of course
“Including your birthday” any sane company would give you a day off on your birthday if you wanted.
We are an “Equal Opportunity Employer”, yes, behold, they are following the law. It’s a perk!
Yea yea, hard skip on this one.

Summary

So in summary, avoid these things:

What do you think? Do you have any flags to add to the list or any bad work experiences that we can all learn from? I would be very interested to hear about it.

And tell me what type of content you want to see next time. I’m thinking of doing a tutorial on cover letters or a video about recruiters and employers that googles your past history on the internet.

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