A (Bad) Dream Job: How to Identify Unreliable Employers?

You can’t be sure that your employer will be kind, tolerant, and decent — but you surely want them to meet this description. How to spot bad employers and avoid their job offers? Read on to learn!

Bad employers and how they influence your work

It would be by no means an exaggeration to say that our career is very dependent on our employers. It’s them who meet us first (that is, right after the HR department or other job interviewers). It’s them who assign our daily tasks, creating a professional routine. It’s them who pay our wage — and decide whether we deserve a raise or some other bonuses. Last but not least, it’s them who weave the quotidian fabric of work interactions — standing on top of the structure and influencing its patterns.

Naturally, skills and proficiencies do play a significant role in professional growth. However, achieving your goals is harder without a proper moral climate, healthy horizontal connections, and transparent work policies. Without all these beneficial elements, a significant part of resources will be wasted on resolving the structure problems hindering your progress. The most painful part is that you won’t be able to evolve professionally under a bad employer.

 It’s always essential to make the right career decisions, carefully weighing all the pros and cons — that’s why we wrote this advice article to share some thoughts about the crucial points of reliable and unreliable employers you shouldn’t ignore while finding yourself a new job.

We divided it into three blocks. We’ll describe what you can do to learn more about your employers before the job interview in the first block. We’ll cover the interview itself (red flags signaling the unreliable or outright bad employers) in the second one. The third will be devoted to the office’s collateral signs and surroundings.

job interview at Lemon.io

Before the interview

Why should you spot the alert signals before going to a job interview? Because after you pass, it will be much less possible to quit: you’ve found the desired job, you already have an established workflow, and the thoughts of quitting will call in anxiety and trouble. So, it’s essential to notice the red flags in advance — to filter the employers’ pool and eliminate the “rotten fruits” before further action.

Get the word on the street

Asking never hurts. Make a mini-survey in your media bubble. Consult friends and acquaintances who’ve been treading the waters of the industry for quite some time and know the key players on the market. Trawl the internet yourself: google the organization’s name and read what you find.

A good source of insights about various organizations (from the IT world in particular) is the review sites — Glassdoor, G2, or Trustpilot. Read the reviews, notice the key characteristics, and decide for yourself. Most of the time, the reviews’ authors are former or present employees of the said company, so all the information is from the first hands.

Check the litigations

Is your future company a decent one? Search “NAME sued/was sued,” “NAME legal proceedings,” or other related word combinations.

Check the HR department

If the company’s HR department has won professional awards or shares valuable insights through various platforms, it’s a good sign of the healthy workflow and atmosphere — co-created and co-stimulated by the said department.

Check the job description

Any mentions of at-will employment (when your boss can fire you anytime and for no reason) are the bad omens of the unhealthy and possibly authoritarian atmosphere.

Read the list of your responsibilities — later on, it will be easier to ask for pay raise after performing the unmentioned tasks.

Check out if you correctly understand your future tasks. Feel free to ask questions during the job interview (and look at your employer’s reaction) in case of misunderstanding.

Check the employers

Learn the backgrounds of the senior executives. Do they have sufficient education and work experience in the area? If not, the working process may be unplanned and full of trials and errors. It’s not bad to develop your skills with the company’s evolution — but if you anticipate the professional team and get the novices instead, that’s another cup of tea altogether.

At the interview

If you’ve done all of the above and nothing frightened you off the actual job interview — congratulations, your potential employees have passed your vetting procedure (yes, it’s not always employees who pass it, employers do). But there still can be tons of doubt from your side — so continue watching for signals and bad omens!

The next step of your employment is the job interview. What can you notice there?

Who does the talking?

Only bad employers do most of the talking during the job interview. Their ultimate desire is to sell themselves — so they pay no attention to your questions and don’t ask you any. If the conversation is too one-sided, it’s a sign that your daily requests won’t be heard later on. Moreover, employers who don’t express sincere interest in new people tend to be generally self-centered.

Notice the process organization

Good managers try to impress potential employees to get good staff. Bad ones don’t. Devil is always hidden in details — so be attentive. Are they polite to you in this company? Are they punctual? Did they organize the interview well? If the job interview is poorly scheduled, the overall working process will be haphazard too.

Ask them questions!

Make a list of the questions you’d like to get answers to. Let them be concrete and sincere. Ask yourself what possible solutions would satisfy you the most. Follow your potential employers’ behavior and outer reactions when they’ll answer — they can give you some nutritional food for thought. Here are some examples.

  • What do you love about your job?
  • How can I help you reach your goals?
  • What position can I get in a year? In 5 years?
  • What can I expect from training and development in this position? 
  • Is there a trial period?
  • Do you have social benefits, sick leaves, or bonuses?

Unreliable employers don’t plan the future of their staff and don’t care about it. Decent and reliable ones will always be able to comment on plans and perspectives — not only general but also specific and staff-oriented.

All the trustful employers should give you feedback after the interview. It can be brief, but its total absence also signals carelessness.

impeccable but unreliable employer

Look around

We’d like to share one more piece of advice with you: look around! Does the office feel comfortable? Does it make you anxious? Will it be convenient to work there?

Scan the workplace with your eyes. A good office environment is convenient and repaired, with a comfortable ambient temperature and humidity — all of this lays the groundwork to prompt work speed and efficiency.

Try to notice other staff. Are they stressed? Tired? Reluctant to speak? Mill around the lobby and engage your potential colleagues in small talks. (Maybe, visit the local cafeteria where they dine or have wine after work!)

If you’re a Middle or Senior web developer, you probably know about the vetting marketplaces — the meeting venues where talented and checked IT specs can meet their employers. At Lemon.io, we vet both sides of the process, i.e., programmers and clients — and then arrange their job interviews most professionally and conveniently. If you’re fed up with superficial communication, boring questions, and unfair offers, try us — join the Lemonverse!

Any questions left? Here's a FAQ for you!

  • How do you know your employer is shady?

    We have some advice for everyone who wants to find out if their employer is worth trusting ASAP. Some of them wave red flags right in front of your nose, others are much harder to notice. Read along to learn some tips.
    Ask sharp and definite questions. For instance — how long has this position been open before your job interview?
    Notice the surroundings. How do people behave with you? There can be a lot of clues to their attitude.
    Look for extra burdens. If potential employees are eager to hang many unpaid commitments on you, think twice before accepting.
    Look for the mess. It’s not only you who should be prepared for the meeting. If your interlocutors seem to be caught off guard and don’t know what you’ve written in your CV, probably, they’re not interested in you. 
    Look out for the future. Does the HR manager ask you about plans, perspectives, and views? If not, your future boss will probably be interested only in your productivity in the 9-to-5 mode, nothing more.

  • Why are employees not happy with their jobs?

    1. Underpayment feeling
    2. Insufficient career growth
    3. Lack of interest in your work
    4. Managers with poor leadership and organizational skills
    5. Constant communication breakdowns

  • How do you know if a company is toxic?

    One of the most foolproof ways to check out the toxicity level of the company you’re going to work with is through direct communication with employees from your own personal network. What are the others? 
    Check the online review aggregators like Glassdoor or Trustpilot. If a company in question is mature enough, its digital trace will be discernable and easy to trace. 
    Find live video interviews with the company employees. It’s a wonderful way to understand what it will be like working with them on common projects. 
    Try to grasp the core of the company’s organizational structure. Check LinkedIn and other web resources. Analyze the key points of the company’s mission and answer if there are enough people to complete all the tasks. If one employee performs 100 tasks at once, that’s a definite clue of a looming burnout.

  • What makes a bad employer?

    Bad bosses you don’t want to work with — what are they? How to discern them in the vast ocean of job opportunities and offers? Here’s a list of DON’TS you should avoid while looking for your dream boss.
    What do bad employers do? 
    1 Love tattletales, choose favorite employees (and directly show them), and give their favorites better jobs and timetables.
    2 Poorly communicate their needs and use your misunderstanding as an excuse for bullying.
    3 Speak rudely and loudly, with no empathy.
    4 Take credit for all the positive accomplishments of their employers and blame them for all failures, throwing them under the bus in public.
    5 Never reward people for important achievements.

  • What are some behaviors that show employees are loyal to an employer?

    Loyal employers – what do they look like, and where to find them? 
    1. They tell you everything they think (even things you don’t want to hear about yourself)
    2 They treat you like a fully extant person, not like a boss who is not supposed to have a life beyond the 9-to-5 work they meet you at.
    3 They never criticize you publicly.
    4 They tell you when they need to quit your company — plainly and directly

    Be the boss who can witness such employees — and you’ll surely be the happiest boss.

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