Think Before You Leap: Signs You Shouldn’t Take the Job

Almost everyone I know who currently hates his or her job had a premonition that things wouldn’t go smoothly when they first signed on to the company.

Why did they take the job, then? In most cases, the answer was money, plain and simple. And if you’ve been out of work for a prolonged time and can’t afford to look for the really, really right place, then taking a job to bring money into the house just makes sense.

In a few cases, however, employees left perfectly good jobs to join their new companies. Again, the answer for their switch was money: the new companies paid more of it.

It’s easy when you’ve been working at a job for some time – perhaps perfectly happily – to begin to feel disenfranchised when another company swoops in and offers more money. The new company, you think, understands me. They know my worth.

So, the resentment at your current company, which does not understand your worth, which has provided only cost-of-living raises from year to year and minimal bonuses, grows. Yes, they let you leave the office to take your daughter to the dentist and gave you the chance to work from home for two weeks when your wife broke her ankle – but they don’t understand your worth.

Before running off to join the highest bidder, you need to know exactly what you’re getting into. I once took a job in part because the boss said I could work from home when it was necessary for family reasons. Once I’d joined the team, however, I found that the corporate culture of the company required me to show up two hours before my workday began, stay late every night, and show up at least twice during the weekends. The face time was so important that some mid-level employees simply came in on the weekend and browsed the Web.

Had I spoken to employees from the company, I would have been better prepared to make a decision about whether the job was right for me. Because the boss really wanted me to join the team, he told me exactly what I wanted to hear. Would I have been fired had I taken him at his word? Probably not. Would I have reached the heights in the company that I had been promised.

Probably not.

Other messages that can be hidden in a job offer – but detectable if you do your research – include a dearth of long-term employees. High turnover at the new company could indicate less than ideal working conditions, unrealistic expectations of results by management, or financial problems that could affect the future of the company. Working with a number of short-term employees may give you a greater opportunity to shine, but it also means fewer mentors to acclimate you to the company’s culture and policies.

You should also do a background check of the company’s finances, especially if you’ve heard on the street that there could be problems. A friend of mine showed up for her first day of work to find herself in an emergency company meeting in which the chief executive officer told the staff – by telephone – that the company was being placed on the auction block. There are times during mergers and acquisitions that an employee can make a quick climb up the corporate ladder, but a new employee is always at risk in such situations because any cuts are likely to start with the newest members of the team.

You should also be on the look-out for possible tension between you and any member of the existing team. You may be able to replace a low-level employee, but if that employee’s behavior has the potential of affecting your job performance, you need to go into the situation on your guard. If the problem exists between you and a fellow manager, it may not be worth making the jump to the new company.

Money is a great reason to work – in fact, most of us expect it. However, with the long hours we all put into our workday and the high expectations of companies for success, it only makes sense to look beyond the almighty dollar when making a career decision.

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