Nearly everybody who has been in the workforce for more than a few years has a bad boss story. Sometimes, in retrospect, these experiences make for good tales to tell your friends and family members. However, when you are in the thick of trying to extricate yourself from a bad employment situation or a toxic boss, things can be quite miserable.
It would be wonderful if bad employers were easy to spot, but, unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. Some bad employers can be identified early in the hiring process, while others don’t expose their true faces until during or after the second interview. Then there are the employers that you may not recognize as train wrecks until well after you have unpacked, signed all of the forms, and received the keys to your desk drawer.
Here are seven types of employers that you should definitely try to avoid during your job hunt:
1. The Laid-Back Employer
During interviews, the laid-back employer sounds amazing. They offer flexible scheduling. They don’t bog you down with a lot of policies and rules. They encourage creativity.
But things start to fall apart when you begin working for the laid-back employer.
This is when you realize that your laid-back and accommodating employer also lacks organization, communicates inefficiently, and doesn’t follow through. Sure, it’s great to have a laid-back boss when you want to sneak out of the office 30 minutes early, but it’s a nightmare when you need them to respond to you, support you, or deal with timely matters.
2. The Employer With an Established Negative Reputation
You submit your resume to one of the big job search websites, and you get a response. Somebody wants to interview you. You take down their information and schedule that interview. Then you begin researching.
At first, you find a few negative customer reviews. But that could just be a fluke, right? Then you search further, and find that there are a lot of angry posts from former employees as well. Even worse, you can’t find many people – if you can find any at all – with something positive to say about the organization. You can continue to fact-check, but it may be better if you just walk away now.
3. The Inconsistent Communicator
As you leave the interview, the interviewer says they’ll be in contact within the next couple of days. Two weeks later, you finally get the promised email.
Even worse, one person tells you that the company will be making a final decision within a week, but you get a phone call from another executive two days later asking if you would be willing to sit for yet another interview.
When you explain the confusion, it becomes readily apparent that nobody has been communicating with one another, let alone communicating with you. Can you imagine trying to complete a project at this organization? Chances are, you are better off moving on to the next opportunity.
4. The Inappropriate Interviewer
There are a few different types of inappropriate interviewers. The first is the person who is either creepy or clueless. They ask inappropriate and often illegal interview questions about your family status, religion, or other personal information. In many cases, they will couch these questions in casual, getting-to-know-you banter. It doesn’t matter. These questions should send up a major red flag.
Then, perhaps not as egregious, is the inappropriate interviewer who simply cannot manage to stay on topic. You end the interview absolutely frustrated because you feel as if you know nothing about the position or the company – the interviewer kept getting sidetracked and talking about irrelevant things.
5. The Family Employer
Who wouldn’t want to work for a nice, close-knit, family business? Working for a family business can be okay if you are simply looking for a job and don’t care much about upward mobility. It’s also okay if you are just looking to gain experience or learn a skill before moving on.
However, if you are looking to make a career at a family business, then prepare to be disappointed. Let’s face it: No matter what you contribute, you will never be given the keys to the kingdom unless you marry in.
Then there are the other problems that often go along with working for a family employer: family squabbles at work, commitments to family loyalty over sensible business practices, and very closed communication.
6. The Bad-Mouther
You sit down for your interview, and right away it begins. They ask who you work under at your current job. You tell them, and they respond that they know that person, and he’s a real buffoon.
Then it continues. The person you are going to replace is whiny and incompetent. The other teams that the interviewer has to deal with are always slacking off. It doesn’t take long before you realize that your interviewer has something negative to say about anybody and everybody – except for themselves, of course.
Now, imagine how this negativity and willingness to denigrate others to a virtual stranger will play out if you actually get the job. What a nightmare.
7. The Directionless Employer
This can be a difficult one to detect. Sometimes, it becomes obvious when you arrive for your interview that you are dealing with a directionless employer. For example, maybe you introduce yourself to the receptionist, who seems confused by your presence. They ask you more than once who you are there to see. Then you wait.
Finally, your interviewer arrives, and you can see they are absolutely unprepared. They ask you disjointed questions, seem to have forgotten everything on your resume, and can’t provide you with a clear job description. They also can’t give you good information about upcoming projects or goals for the next year.
This sounds horrible, but at least you know early on what you are dealing with. It’s even worse if you only find out that your employer is totally directionless after you’ve taken the job.
When you’re looking for a new job, you may run into some or all of the employers I described above. Take it from me: As soon as you meet these people, your best option is to run far away in the opposite direction. No job is worth the problems you’d have to deal with at any one of these organizations.