Telecommuters and freelancers have to be especially cautious with their job search. Because so many people are hoping to work at home, many home-based job seekers are happy to take any opportunity that looks “legit.” However, even some so-called “legitimate” companies aren’t all they seem to be at first glance. So before applying to a job, even if it’s a job with a brand with a recognizable name, it’s a good idea to do your due diligence.
When researching companies to work with, go beyond their Twitter account and Facebook page. Take a deep dive and see what employees (especially former employees) are saying about them. Check LinkedIn pages for people who work or worked with them to see how long they worked with the brand, and if they left any feedback. Do an online search to see what kind of news or chatter there is about this potential employer. Knowing what you’re getting into beforehand will help you to make an informed decision and could spare you from a big headache later.
Before you apply for a job or accept an interview, see what you can find online – but avoid the following:
7 Red Flags to Look for When Applying for a Job
Think long and hard about working for places that have reputations for the following:
1. High turnover rate
When a business can’t seem to keep employees around for an extended period of time, the problem isn’t usually with the employees. Good workers don’t leave good situations. Many jobs with a high turnover rate have issues with keeping staff on board for a variety of reasons including mistreatment of staff, unrealistic expectations, poor chances for advancement, unreasonable hours, unreasonable workload, poor organization, poor communication, late payments and more. If you notice a company has trouble keeping staff, it’s a good idea to pass. At the very least check with former staff members (not H.R. who might not be entirely truthful) to ask why this might be the case.
2. Loyal, long-term staff members quit
Very few people will stay with one company forever, though most of us have the best intentions when we sign on for a job. It’s not unusual for anyone to find new work after a reasonable amount of time. However, if loyal staff members are all finding new jobs around the same time, you’ll want to ask yourself why. Especially if those staff members spoke positively about their jobs prior to making an exodus. One long-term staff member leaving doesn’t have to be cause for alarm, more than one person leaving in, say, the same 12 to 18 month period usually means something’s up.
3. Negative Online chatter
It’s easy to write off online negativity as the ramblings of disgruntled former staff or unsatisfied customers. It might be a good idea to take some time and see what people are really saying, though. Look at it this way, if you are buying a product online and its e-commerce page is filled with poor reviews, you’ll probably read the reviews and pass on something that causes so much dissatisfaction. It should be the same with signing on to work for a company. If more people are leaving a company on bad terms than good terms, and if there’s more bad chatter than good chatter, go with your gut. Do you really want to have your name associated with a company that has so much negativity attached to it?
4. Unkind gossip from staff members
If existing staff members are sharing unkind gossip about how a company is run or the people who run a company, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. After all, a lot of people gossip where they work. But if staff shares negative gossip outside of work, and it’s more than that of a disgruntled employee, it might be worth it to take note. Why would people who are happy where they work share negative experiences with people outside of the job? Wouldn’t they want their company to have a good reputation and ensure its success? If staff has more unkind things to say than positive things to share, consider if this is truly a place worth working for.
5. Reputation for late payments
If you deliver work as promised, you deserve to be paid as promised. Late payments can indicate two different things:
- A client or employer doesn’t consider you their first priority when it comes to paying the bills.
- A client or employer doesn’t have the funds in which to pay you.
Neither of the above is an ideal situation. Never sign on with a company that has a poor record for on time payment. It’s my experience they make lots of promises they can’t keep. Allowing late payment once is like giving permission to let it happen again. Trust me, you don’t want to do this.
6. Reputation for not responding to emails and inquiries
Good communication is essential for good business. There is never any excuse for anyone in business to ignore the people who are reaching out for any reason. When a client or boss doesn’t respond to emails, chat messages, DM’s, texts, or phone calls, that doesn’t say “busy,” it says “I don’t care.” Moreover, when you work for a company with a reputation for not responding to staff, customers, clients, vendors, or anyone they do business with, that reputation is on you. Because if NO ONE is helping those in need, everyone who works for that company is part of the problem.
7. No ownership when issues arise
Everyone has emergencies, and every business has moments where they have to go into crisis mode. However, if a company doesn’t deliver as promised, is late with deadlines, or doesn’t respond to customer inquiries and complaints, how they respond can be very telling. A good, reputable business will take ownership of a problem and explain the situation with honesty and transparency without pointing fingers. If a business owner, boss, or client points fingers rather than share blame, blames hackers, computer error, or sick grandmothers every time an issue arises, rather than approach a situation with honesty, this will reflect poorly on all working there. You don’t want your own reputation to tank because the people you work for can’t take ownership for things that are their fault.
Telecommuters must do their due diligence
It’s easier to see what’s happening internally to a company when you’re able to go into the office and see the day to day workings and interactions. When you work from home you might be left out of the loop and blindsided when serious issues arise. In fact, a lot of people choose telecommuters to work for them because they feel they’re so desperate for a “work from home” job that they’ll overlook red flags in exchange for working at home.
Don’t let your desire to work out of your home office cloud your good judgment. Before you apply for a job do your research. Learn what customers and former staff members are saying. Minor issues aside, if something doesn’t look or feel right, it’s a good idea to pass and move on to the next opportunity. It’s better to wait for a good job with a good company than have to start the search again a few months later – or worse risk your reputation working for someone with a bad reputation.
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