Scouting around for the perfect job? We’re sure you have interviews set up by now. Heck, maybe you’ve already started. However, it shouldn’t just be about your efforts to impress potential employers. You should also size up the company and decide if it’s the right place to pursue your professional goals. Before you say yes to that high-paying offer or sign that regularization form, here are some warning signs to watch for.
1. The company doesn’t invest in professional and personal development.
Of course meeting new people and having a new job is, in itself, a learning experience. However, how sure are you that agency you will be entering aligns with your career goals? Are they willing to help you acquire new skills and hone existing ones? If not, then you might find it hard to reach your full potential here.
2. The office is disorganized, even dirty.
Blame it on poor janitorial skills, but having a dirty working space reflects the company’s view of cleanliness. It might be boxes over boxes in the reception area or disorganized desks that might be a red flag. Your future colleagues might just be slobs or that they are too wind up doing their tasks to care about their surroundings. Either way, do you really want to work in such a place? Factor in that even well-cleaned offices are hotbeds for infectious diseases simply because there are so many people occupying the same space. A company that doesn’t invest in keeping its offices clean is probably not too concerned about the healthiness of its employees.
3. There’s insufficient space and substandard equipment.
Apart from the cleanliness of the office, one thing to consider is the space and equipment. Does everyone work in a roomy area or are they all cramped into tiny cubicles. Are the executives the only ones who have enough elbow room? Are people forced to work with outdated computers or use personal mobiles for office concerns without the benefit of a communications allowance? There’s nothing more frustrating than being forced to work extra hours because your equipment keeps hanging or the internet is too slow to upload or download necessary files. A company that cares for its employees will make sure they have the right tools to complete the tasks required of them.
4. You observe poor communication and interaction habits.
From the first call or text message that you get and the moment you step into that office, you should get a feel for how people interact. Are replies to your queries prompt and complete, or do you have to keep following up or asking for more information? Do you hear people complaining about the company in the elevators or at the coffee shop downstairs from the office? As you are taken down corridors and past cubicles, is everyone frowning into a computer screen or do you see people smiling as they work? Now, it may just be that the company has a different way of doing things. Make sure you ask about things like team structure, how deadlines are set and met, problem solving processes, and more to find out whether this company encourages work attitudes compatible with your own.
5. The culture doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
One way people try to sell their company by talking about their corporate culture. This includes things like casual Fridays or a generally casual dress code, team building trips, office parties, and other bonding initiatives. However, these are not always fun, and they may also not be what you’re concerned about when it comes to a company. Make sure you ask about things like working hours, Saturday work requirements, and corporate social responsibility efforts, the better to assess whether the company fits your own lifestyle and values. It’s also a good idea to talk to someone working there (ideally someone who isn’t in HR or Recruitment) if you know any of the employees socially. Go ahead and ask your sister to ask her BFF what it’s like to be a part of Company X, or ask your friend just how toxic the workload is at Company Y.
6. There’s overemphasis on excellence and efficiency.
If the company decor puts a lot of emphasis on excellence, efficiency, and other things you would usually believe to be ideal, it may be a case of protesting too much. Or rather a not-so-subtle reminder for employees to practice those things in the work they do. So what’s the problem with that? It could be an indicator that the company doesn’t feel as though their employees are living up to their standards (which is okay if it’s a handful of people, but a symptom of a bigger, organizational problem if it’s targeted at all employees). Think about some the decor of the companies often cited as “dream” companies, the ones with low turnovers; many of their offices have fun things like slides, scooters, and colorful, artsy decor to stimulate their employees’ minds and bodies. These companies don’t have to remind their employees to be efficient and strive toward excellence; they believe their employees already embody those traits, and they want to create a safe, fun, collaborative environment for them. So take a look at the company’s decor and ask yourself: are they using the stick or the carrot to motivate their employees?
The first six months of your job is often referred to as a regularization period because it gives your company the opportunity to decide whether they don’t think you’ll be a good fit or they want you for keeps. But this probationary period isn’t just for the company; it’s for you, too. These six months are your opportunity to decide if this is a company you want to stay with; once you are regularized, you’ll often find that the bad things get worse and the good things get better, so make sure there are more good things than bad. And if you get bad vibes even before you’ve joined the company—during the job application and interview stage—then it’s an indication you may need to step back and take a long hard look at the company you’re thinking of joining.
Additional reporting by Liana Smith Bautista