Starting a new job can be an exciting, but nerve-racking time. There are a few things you can and should do to limit your risk and ensure you’re making the right decision when it comes to accepting a new role.
During your job search, you should be on the lookout for the following warning signs. That way, you can be more confident about the changes you make while avoiding potential career disasters.
1. Goals and Expectations Aren’t Clear and Reasonable
Has the company been direct about what they need from you and how your success will be measured? Are the expectations realistic and attainable? Make sure you can answer “yes” to these questions before starting a new job.
Be especially careful if your boss comes from a background that is different from the work you’ll be doing. For example, let’s say you join a startup and you’re the first person in marketing, and your boss is the head of operations. You should have a discussion about marketing with them to make sure you see eye-to-eye on exactly what you’re expected to accomplish in your first month, your first three months, and your first year with the company.
2. There Isn’t a Strong Process for Onboarding or Training
Ask the company about the training process and listen to how they describe it. Are they confident and enthusiastic about it when they lay out the steps ahead? Or does it seem like just another thing they have to “deal with” as part of the hiring process?
Try to find out how other team members in the group describe it as well, not just the hiring manager. If you get a chance to interview with other people, ask them, “How would you rate the training and support you received while getting ramped up in your role?”
3. You Don’t Feel a Strong Connection With the Hiring Manager
There’s a saying that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. Having a great boss has a big impact on your happiness at work.
Imagine having a great relationship with your boss, seeing them as a mentor, feeling free to share your challenges and setbacks, and getting experience-driven advice to help you grow. That’s what you should look for.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a bad boss will feel like somebody who just monitors and watches you – or somebody you’re afraid to go talk to because they will jump to conclusions or won’t understand your perspective. So remember that the hiring manager is also your future boss in most cases. Make sure they are somebody you’d genuinely feel comfortable working with.
4. There Isn’t a Clear Picture of Your Long-Term Career Path
How does the company respond when you ask what your role will look like in one or two years? Also ask them to describe what other employees have gone on to do after spending time in your position. Have they moved up and been promoted?
Be careful if a company only has vague answers or seems like they haven’t figured out what your next step could possibly be. This might be a sign that they need to plug a gap quickly and are only thinking about their short-term needs. A good job is like a relationship. Your needs and interests should be balanced with those of the company.
5. There’s a High Turnover Rate
Many of the factors above will lead to the same result: high turnover. So this final step is a great way to quickly check the overall quality of the company and the group you’re looking to join.
If you’re given an opportunity to meet multiple people during your interview, ask each one how long they’ve been with the company. If you don’t meet with everyone in the group, you can go on LinkedIn after the interview and look at their dates of employment. It’s a good sign if you see people have been there for many years.
How to Use This Information Moving Forward
Use the five points above as a reminder before your interview and as a checklist before making your final decision. Ask questions that will help you find out about these topics throughout your job search, and don’t be afraid to follow up after your interview if you don’t have enough information yet.
Not only will this process help you gather data so you can feel confident when you make a decision, but it will also help you come across as a better job candidate! Showing an interest in these topics sends a signal to employers that you are career-oriented, thorough, and careful when it comes to your job search. Those are all attractive qualities to demonstrate as a candidate.
Biron Clark is an executive recruiter, career coach, and founder of careersidekick.com.