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Job listings can reveal red flags about the job or employer—here’s what to look for

Job seeker searches online job listings
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A basic job posting site will list a title, job description, requirements, salary and benefits for every open position. But if you’ve ever scanned job listings online, you’ve probably noticed the repetition of many similar phrases within the text.

Look carefully, because you may miss some wording or content in a job listing that should make you think twice about applying to a position. Here are some things to look out for.

Vague Language

Some companies like to use alternative titles for positions. But that can lead to unrealistic expectations for a job and also cause some job candidates to think they aren’t qualified.

One example Inc. points out is a “Director of First Impressions,” which might actually mean an office administrator or front desk staff.

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Red-Flag Terms

Forbes goes through a number of “red flag” words in a job description that you should keep an eye out for. If a job description is looking for someone who can work in a “fast-paced,” “work hard, play hard,” “scrappy” environment, the role may be one with long hours, lots of stress and few resources.

“Self-starter” roles may also mean you don’t get much guidance in your position and are left to figure out things yourself. Companies looking for someone who is “flexible” and can “roll with the punches” may really want someone who is accessible 24/7 and will handle lots of work-related emergencies that pop up.

Too-Detailed Job Descriptions

Does a job description go on and on in listing the requirements for the position? Keirsten Greggs, a talent acquisition consultant, career coach and founder of TRAP Recruiter, told Insider that this could very well indicate the company hiring doesn’t have a good enough idea of what they want from someone in the role. So instead, it has listed everything under the sun. This can lead to unrealistic expectations.

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Overly Broad Or No Salary Ranges Listed

While you don’t necessarily want to discuss money in the first interview with a company, most people want to know at least know what ballpark salary range a job will have before applying. After all, almost everyone needs an income; they’re not just job-hunting for their personal fulfillment.

As Insider points out, saying a job has a “competitive salary” or that pay will be “commensurate with experience” isn’t helpful to job seekers. Neither is offering a huge range.

Salaries that are listed as “up to” X amount of income likely mean the job is commission-based. If that’s the kind of position you want, great! Otherwise, steer clear.

Monster points out that jobs saying you’ll “be your own boss!” are also likely to be commission-based and might not have a great salary base.

Have you spotted any of these red flags when job searching?

About the Author

Anna Weaver

Anna Weaver is a writer and multimedia journalist born, raised, and living back in her home state of Hawaii. Her two young kids keep her on her toes and hooked on online shopping. More.

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