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Red Flags to Look Out for in a Job Description: Warning Signs of Poor Compensation and Benefits

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

When you’re looking for a new job, you need to look at more than just the job duties. The right job will fit your skills well, compensate you fairly, and provide a culture that allows camaraderie and growth. There are some outstanding companies that take care of their employees, while other workplaces are toxic, have unreasonable expectations, overpromise and underdeliver, or are just outright frauds.

This article will guide you through red flags in job descriptions that can indicate a job is not worth pursuing so you can focus your efforts on companies that are.

1. Vague Details About the Job's Responsibilities

Not all business owners are job description writing geniuses, but both parties should clearly understand what the job entails. A job description with vague vocabulary can indicate several red flags, including:

  • Disorganization

  • Instability

  • Confused thinking

  • Responsibility creep (where they hire you for one job but then add a bunch of responsibilities)

  • Lack of accountability

Without a clear description of the job duties, it's hard for you to understand whether the compensation they offer is fair and fitting.

2. Salary Offer Is Too High

How can a high salary offer be a bad thing? If 10 very similar jobs pay within a set range, but another company offers significantly more for the same job duties, that can be a red flag.

A disproportionately high salary could mean any of the following:

  • The job is not what it seems (responsibility creep, commission-based, or fraud).

  • The company's culture or conditions are toxic (and they are having trouble keeping employees).

  • They are desperate to hire due to pressing problems (that you would then be expected to fix).

Some companies do pay more than others. Just because you see an exciting compensation offer doesn't mean that the company isn't worth pursuing. However, it does mean you should investigate the company further before applying.

3. Overly Eager or Desperate to Hire Immediately

As a job seeker, you must do your due diligence on the companies you might join. Similarly, it's a business's responsibility to understand the skills and abilities they need in a new hire and take the time to find a good fit.

A company that seems desperate to hire and needs you to start immediately may not be doing its due diligence. They may need a clearer idea of what they require, and this lack of clarity will likely extend through all their operations.

On the other hand, a company that is clear about what it wants and needs will provide a clear and accurate job description. They will interview several applicants. If they extend a job offer, they will give you time to consider it.

4. They Advertise the Same Positions Repeatedly

If you've been looking through job postings for a few days or weeks, you've probably already identified some companies that seem to be constantly posting for jobs. In some cases, a high-quality company may be going through an expansion and need to add significantly to its staff. In other cases, repeated postings are a red flag indicating high employee turnover.

High employee turnover can result from different conditions; not all are automatic red flags. For example, a company that hires entry-level employees that gain experience and move on is not necessarily a bad option. However, repeated postings may also indicate the following:

  • Less than average compensation for the same job

  • A toxic work environment

  • Poor management

A little investigation into the company should help you distinguish if they are rapidly adding staff, offering entry-level jobs, or if the postings are a red flag to avoid.

5. They Ask You to Pay Money Before Starting

A big red flag is a company that asks you to pay them money to get started. This is most common with business opportunities. Sometimes they make fantastic income promises, and job seekers find it hard to resist. However, any legitimate employer will pay you!

Avoid any job description that requires you to provide money during the hiring process.

Always Investigate a Company's Reputation Before Accepting a Job Offer

Each step in your career is part of the journey. Ideally, you can build on each experience and gain connections from each job. People you meet can offer mentorship, references, or networking long after you've moved on. The more positive work experiences you have, the bigger your network can be.

For these reasons and more, it's worth taking your time to research a company's reputation before accepting a job offer. If you rush into anything, you may regret it later and find yourself back in the job search process sooner than you'd hoped.

Search online for news articles, legal records, and reviews from former employees. A little online research can save weeks or months of stress. Remember, just like employers are qualifying you, you are qualifying them.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

The information in our press releases, blogs, articles, testimonials, videos and presentations should be considered accurate only as of the date thereof. We disclaim any obligation to supplement or update the information in this type of content, and any links or references therein to third party articles or other third party content does not constitute our endorsement of that third party.

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