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When you should NOT accept a job offer

When unemployed or looking to climb the ladder, a job offer may sound great, but there are conditions under which you should definitely walk away, even if you really need that gig.

first impression handshake with investors

Woo hoo, they want to give you money!

You’ve searched the classified ads, you’ve networked your butt off, you aced your interview, and now you’ve finally been offered a job! Congratulations!

But wait, before you sign on the dotted line, are you sure this is the right job for you? Remember, a job search is a two-way street – you have to be qualified for the job, but the company also has to be good fit for you.

Seeking out the red flags

Pay close attention to everything you witness and every conversation you have during your job interview.

If something seems “off,” trust your instinct and just say no. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

No one seems to stick around

High turnover. The company has been around for years, but all of the employees are new. This usually indicates that employees don’t last long in their position.

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If the interviewer complains about his or staff to you during the interview, this is a very, very bad sign.

This actually happened to me once. The manager spent almost the entire interview complaining about what his staff does wrong, and how incompetent the other applicants for the job had been. He even said of one of his staff, “she’s dumb as rocks, but at least she’s perky.” This most definitely did not inspire me to work there – instead, it gave me the impression that the boss was a persnickety bully who did not respect his employees. Needless to say, I didn’t take the job.

You’ll be doing a lot of “synergy” and “circling back”

Take a rain check on the job offer if it’s not extremely clear exactly what you’ll be doing. Using general or jargon-y words to describe your job, rather than a clear list of tasks, indicates that the company will probably expect you to do several peoples’ jobs at once. Avoid companies looking for a “social media ninja” or a “sales genius.”

Pay close, close attention

Other bad signs: the company has been running its want ad continuously for several weeks, the interviewer doesn’t ask you very many questions, there isn’t a clear path of career advancement, or the company asks you to pay money upfront, for example, for training.

Probably the best way to vibe out the work environment and company culture is to observe other employees. Do they seem cheery, cooperative, and calm? Or do they seem panicked or worn down? Do they seem friendly and comfortable with the boss, or are they nervous or shut down? If you get a chance, ask employees what they like best and least about their jobs – when the boss isn’t around.

Good luck, and get hired – but don’t take just any job!

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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