Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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We’re in the middle of a Great Resignation. For job seekers, that means they should have their choice of roles. And in many cases, they do — today’s job market is in the candidate’s favor, not that of the employer. 

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of red flags out there — ones job seekers must have on their radar if they want to land the ideal job, not just any job. Here are six of them to look out for.

1. Unreasonable expectations.

It’s normal to see a list of qualifications in a job description — that’s partly how job seekers gauge whether the role is right for them. However, when you see an extensive laundry list of expectations that don’t seem appropriately aligned to the particular role and level, that’s cause for concern.

Of course, expectations are high. But there’s a difference between high and unrealistic. If, for example, the entry-level job description asks for several years of experience beyond an internship, then that’s a bit misleading — and perhaps the job shouldn’t really be characterized as entry-level. And it may indicate that the employer’s expectations are much too lofty.

2. An overly long hiring process.

According to Glassdoor research, the average length of the hiring process is 23.8 days. Of course, this can vary considerably from industry to industry. 

That said, if there are considerable lags during the process — you’ve had an interview, for instance, and then wait several weeks to hear anything — that suggests that something is off. Perhaps the hiring manager has already found a more suitable candidate, in which case they should have alerted you to that fact, or maybe they themselves are hemming and hawing, which is also cause for concern.

In today’s market, employers can’t afford to frustrate candidates by seemingly keeping them on ice while they string out the hiring process.

3. Lack of communication.

Similarly, if the employer initially shows interest and then ghosts you, that’s a sign that something could be amiss. If an employer is truly interested, then they should remain in communication with you, keeping you apprised of next steps, timelines and other critical information.

If you’re not hearing from the employer in between interviews and other steps, then you can see that as an indication that their communication hiccups may continue should you ultimately work with them.

4. An unprepared interviewer.

I once traveled two hours for a job interview and when I met the hiring manager, they thought they were meeting about a different role. This immediately put me on guard — if I had invested the time, energy and preparation, shouldn’t I be able to expect the interviewer to extend me the courtesy of at least having glanced at the job description?

Today, this simply cannot happen. Given all the choices candidates have, an employer must “woo” you — and preparation is the first step. Just as you’re expected to have done your homework, learning about the employer and the role, so should the interviewer. They must demonstrate that they respect you and your time.

5. Lack of diversity among your interviewers.

If you interview with multiple individuals and are faced with a see of identical people, it’s bound to be a bit perplexing. Many employers understand the numerous benefits of hiring with an eye on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and if you’re faced with a distinct lack thereof on your hiring committee, then you can consider that an indication of the employer’s full-time staff and values as they relate to diversity. 

6. Requests for extensive unpaid work.

In some industries, assignments demonstrating your abilities are par for the course. This is certainly true in the writing world, for example. But if the interviewer is asking you to complete (unpaid) works that take a considerable amount of time, that could be a red flag. Broach the topic of payment for extensive assignments, and if the interviewer seems phased by the request, you may want to take your skills elsewhere. They may just be looking for free work.

What's your no. 1 red flag during the job search process? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

About the Career Expert:

 Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.