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March 6, 2023

9 Red Flags to Look Out for When Job Seeking & speaking to a recruiter

Savvy job seekers know that the recruitment process isn’t just an opportunity for a company to scrutinize the candidate. It’s also a chance for candidates to peek behind the curtain to get a glimpse of a potential employer’s culture before they decide to accept an offer.

Job seekers can do this by paying attention to details at every stage of the recruitment process, from the job description to the interview and especially how truthful the recruiter is about the position. Here are nine red flags to look out for when job seeking.

1. A Vague or Chaotic Job Description

The job description is often the first step in a job seeker’s experience with a potential employer. It’s an important document, but so many companies get it wrong. So many recruiters don’t take the time to really explain the role either.

Keep in mind that the job description was probably written by your potential future manager, along with some generic EVP (employee value proposition) material from the HR team.

Job description red flags include:

  • A poorly written or obviously cut-and-paste document
  • A vague job description leaving you unsure of what the job involves
  • An unrealistic list of skills, attributes, or job tasks
  • Non-inclusive language (such as gendered language)
  • If your recruiter isn’t telling you the amount of hours and expectations you will be working weekly to be successful – especially in the medical device sales industry – this is a red flag.
  • If your recruiter isn’t telling you anything negative about the opportunity – only positive things – this is also a red flag.
  • I know many of my candidates can attest to this. I talk more people out of these roles than into them it seems. Selling aesthetic medical devices is not for everyone. It is a very hard job and is extremely demanding – If your recruiter isn’t portraying this to you – be very wary.

2. A Breakdown in the Brand Experience

It’s common for job candidates to be customers, too, which is why it’s disconcerting when the brand experience breaks down during the recruitment process. For example, a candidate might submit their resume to me for a company with a reputation as a forward-thinking aesthetic device company and then have to endure a clunky, long, to many steps and old-school recruitment process full of inefficiencies and paperwork.

The candidate experience — the language used, the look and feel of the application tools, the interview, and onboarding processes — should all feel as close as possible to the experience of the company’s valued customers.

3. Clunky Recruitment Processes

It’s 2022! There are hundreds of HR technology vendors on the market building world-class HR tools, including app-based tools that can make the job application journey as seamless as possible. Yet many HR managers appear to be stuck in the last century. Red flags to look out for include paper-based forms and unnecessarily lengthy, inefficient, and frustrating steps in the process.

If the recruitment process is this inefficient, what will it be like working at the company?

Luckily this is not the case for the aesthetic device companies I recruit for – There really isn’t HR paperwork to fill out. The only thing that takes time is preparing cover letters, answering sales questionnaires and reading all the info about the company.

4. High Turnover

It’s a good idea to ask about the history of the role for which you’re applying. Such questions might include:

  • Is it a new position? Your Recruiter should always know this.
  • When was it last filled? This isn’t always something you should judge as the rep before you may have been in over their head and was unsuccessful and couldn’t sell. They may have not made it 6 months.
  • Why did the previous rep leave? Again this could be because the amount of overnights were too much – make sure your recruiter explains this to you. It could be that the device they are selling is so expensive that none of the prospects can get credit approved for it. It could be that they report to a manager that is not willing to help them in their role because they are only concerned with getting their own sales. It could be that they were replaced by another rep that is a shiny new toy for the hiring manager and they somehow think a new rep in the same territory facing the same challenges will do better than a struggling rep.
  • Has there been high turnover for this role, and has the company had difficulty filling the position? In the Aesthetic sales industry – the answer to this is usually always a yes.

If a candidate has kept an eye on the job market over time, they may become aware of certain jobs being advertised again and again, which is another way to gauge high turnover.

High turnover for a role is a major red flag, suggesting the company has a toxic culture or — more specifically — the position’s manager is very difficult to work with.

5. There’s No Clear Career Path

Be sure to ask about career paths in the organization. If the interviewer dodges the question or cannot answer, this suggests that it might be a dead-end position with no prospects of promotion. In this industry i make sure my Jr. Rep candidates understand they will have to stay in the role 1 maybe two years before getting promoted.

Another way to gauge career prospects is to ask the interviewer about their career journey within the company. Have they stayed in one role for a long time, or have they been rewarded and promoted regularly?

6. The Salary Offer Is Lower than Advertised

If the salary offer does not match what is offered in the job description — or is at the very lowest end of the salary range — candidates should ask themselves what other promises the employer will fail to deliver on. This will never happen with an honest recruiter.

I have never had a candidate receive an offer that is less than what I told them it would be.

Other red flags include:

  • The employer stressing “earning potential” over actual salary. This is always the case selling aesthetic devices. Low Base HIGH commissions.
  • The terms of employment and job description keep changing, with the employer eventually offering a different job than the one the candidate applied for.

7. Poor Communication

Every candidate will have different expectations when it comes to communication, which makes this a difficult area for employers to get right. In general, however, keep an eye out for these communication red flags:

  • “Ghosting,” where the employer simply stops answering candidates’ messages.
  • Not enough communication, leaving the candidate unclear about what happens next.
  • Excessive communication, which can be confusing — and annoying.
  • Unprofessional communication, such as sending important information in an inappropriate format — a text message or social media — or communicating at odd hours. 

8. Poor Treatment During the Interview Process

The way a candidate is treated when they turn up for an interview gives a strong indication of how they would be treated as an employee. Red flags may include:

  • The company changing your interview appointment multiple times.
  • Being treated dismissively by the the rep you are interviewing with.
  • Being made to wait for a lengthy period.
  • Having to call multiple reps from the same company OVER & OVER to prove you know how to chase down a lead. This is frustrating and exhausting.
  • A distracted or disinterested interviewer. A hiring manager that is ordering food, using the bathroom, doing their dishes or is on a ride-a-long with their team and has other reps listening in over speaker phone to your interview.
  • Being made to feel uncomfortable in the interview.

9. Poor Company Reputation

When applying for a role, it’s good practice to check the latest news on the company to see what journalists are saying about your potential future employer. What if the company has been in the news for the wrong reasons? Red flags might be an article suggesting the business is in financial trouble, or perhaps they have committed an ethical breach that made headlines.

Gauging a company’s reputation as an employer is more difficult. It may be possible to talk to current employees about what it’s like working there — either in-person at the interview or reaching out via LinkedIn — but keep in mind they may be careful with their responses.

Trust Your Instincts

As a general rule, the recruitment experience is a microcosm of the wider employee experience at the company. Inefficient job application processes will probably mean endemic inefficiencies across the whole business. A candidate who is treated rudely during a job interview will very likely find the company has a toxic culture. Trust your instincts, watch for red flags, and if it doesn’t feel right, do not take the job.  

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