Red Flag Job Offers

Posted by Liz Seasholtz on May 3, 2011
Red Flag Job Offers
Times are tough. Those who have jobs should be happy and those in need should take the first offer to come their way, right?


Even if you’re desperate for a gig, there are many instances when a new opportunity should raise a red flag. If you see one of the following warning signs in a potential job, it’s time to take a moment to reevaluate the offer before it’s too late.

1.  Salary Cut
If you’re taking a significant pay cut, it could hurt you down the line. Future employers will base your salary offers on previous salaries, so you don’t want to sell yourself short.

Do your research to determine what someone with your position and experience should earn: Look up average salaries on or If you decide to take a pay cut, make sure the trade-off is worth it. Lower pay might be reasonable if you’ll be working 40-hour weeks instead of your previous 65-hour weeks. Or, if you’re trying to break into a field outside your expertise, you might need to start at a lower position and sacrifice some pay.

2.  Culture Shock

Five days a week, you’re committing half of your waking hours to your job, so you better like where you are. If you’re used to a work environment where you can wear jeans, listen to your iPod, and surf Facebook during lunch, it will be a culture shock if you accept a new position in an investment bank. Feel out the company culture during the interview, and make sure it’s somewhere you’ll thrive.

3.  A Bad Boss

There’s a saying, “People quit bosses, not their jobs.” If you feel you can’t get along or work with your new manager, reconsider the position. “I was once in the middle of interviewing for a job with my potential manager, and his manager walked in the room and started reprimanding him,” says Dawn Rosenberg McKay, the Career Planning Guide at “I knew right then I couldn’t work for either of them.”

4.  You’re Unqualified

It’s possible you’ll be offered a position that puts you in over your head. This could happen if you misrepresented your skills in the interview—like if you’re an IT developer, saying you have application development skills when you don’t. Think twice about scheming your way into a position: Chances are you’ll end up crashing and burning your bridges. But don’t sell yourself short. Rosenberg McKay says that if the recruiter wants to hire you after you’ve been honest in an interview, it shows that she thinks you can get the job done.

5.  You’re Overqualified
If you’re taking a position you’re overqualified for, question your reason for pursuing the position in the first place. If it’s only out of financial necessity, you could end up taking a step back on your career trajectory. You should apply to positions that foster your professional development.

However, like salary cuts, accepting a lower position to make a career change or get in the door at an employer you’re dying to work is not a bad idea. Make sure your intentions are good, and the new position is propelling your career in the right direction.

6.  The Company Has Had Layoffs Lately
If the company recently experienced layoffs, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. “This is why it’s important to research the employer,” says Rosenberg McKay. “If you accept a position and then are laid off weeks or months later, you take energy away from your job search.” It’s better to just keep moving full steam ahead toward a secure position.

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