Earn Job Hunting

7 Red Flags Women Should Look Out for When Job Hunting

Dori Zinn  |  March 24, 2022

Job hunting can be a lot of work. But if you aren’t paying attention, you could end up accepting a job you hate.

Finding a job is always a job in and of itself. If you’ve been weeding through job postings, fine-tuning your resume, and powering through applications, it can get tiring. This means you might miss some major red flags as you’re looking for your next gig.

If you want to find the right job but not at the cost of getting scammed, it’s time to take some cautious steps in your job hunt. Here’s a rundown on the top red flags that could indicate it’s time to run far, run fast. 

1. An unclear job posting

You might’ve been lured in by the job title, but the posting doesn’t have clear-cut details. If you applied anyway and got through to the interview, maybe you’re finding that your potential supervisor doesn’t quite know how to describe your future job… If you can’t get specific details about the job function and duties (and how your performance will be judged) that should set off an alarm. Run. 

2. Long and daunting interview

Employers want to make sure they’re investing in the right candidate, which means you might have to go through a few rounds of interviews before getting an offer. But interviews that are too long and strenuous take advantage of your time and expertise — especially if you have a job you’re frequently leaving in order to interview for your new one. 

It’s time to get ahead of the game by outlining your availability to recruiters and hiring managers. Find out what’s expected of you as soon as you can, whether that’s through email correspondence or on the initial interview call. 

3. Lack of women in leadership positions

Alicia Perkins, career development coach and founder of Prepared Careers LLC, says you should pay attention to how many women work at the company. If you don’t see any or very few, that’s a problem.

“[This] could be a tell-tale sign of their environment not being supportive of women,” Perkins says. “Be sure to ask about their leadership initiatives and how many of them are women-led. An inclusive culture depends not just on having female workers, but also on having women in leadership roles advocating for us.”

4. The interview is uncomfortable

While some questions are meant to challenge you to see if you’re a good fit for the job, some questions should be off-limits.

“Asking personal questions is a red flag that they base their hiring decisions on personal information,” Perkins says. “There are companies that believe a woman can’t function as a successful professional while being a wife and mother at the same time. No matter whether you are married or a mother, it has no bearing on the level of expertise or value you can bring to a company.”

If this comes up in your interview, don’t be afraid to decline to answer. You can also ask how those questions are relevant to your expertise or capabilities to do the job at hand.

5. Testing

Some employers want to make sure you’re the right fit by giving you tests to gauge your level of experience. From an employer standpoint, this is to make sure you can do the job and it’s a great way for you to show off your skills. 

But tread lightly. Too many “tests” could be an exploitation of unpaid work.  If you have to do a test, ask what sort of compensation there is for the work involved. One test is possibly to be expected, depending on the industry. But if you’re asked to do multiple unpaid tests, this is a red flag.

6. Missing accommodations

What structures are in place for workers if they need to take off for parental leave or to care for a loved one? What about if there’s a death in the family or you need to take a sick day? Perkins says to listen out for benefits — or lack thereof — for women.

“Don’t be afraid to ask about maternity leave policies or if they have designated lactation rooms for working mothers to pump at work,” she says. “And if they don’t, are they willing to create accommodations? Those accommodations may not be needed at the moment, but it’s good to know that if you need them, they are available and the company supports every phase of your life. Women do not want special treatment; they want to work for companies that view them as women and not just as workers.”

Pay attention to paid time off (PTO), sick leave, paid parental leave for both parents that give birth and those who adopt, as well as any type of company policy on mandatory overtime. If a potential employer requires you to work longer days, or come in on the weekend, back away.

7. Lack of respect

Remember that even if you really want a job, your employer should treat you as a human being and not just as a worker. If your simple requests take a long time to get answered — or worse, if they don’t get fulfilled at all — that’s not a good sign.

For instance, if you’ve accepted a job but haven’t received an offer letter in writing, that could be problematic, especially if you’re attempting to put in your notice at your current job and need a definitive time stamp on when you can start. 

Also, look over your contract details to make sure they line up with what was discussed in your interviews. If you negotiated a signing bonus or extra vacation days, make sure those are in your contract and avoid relying on someone’s word in good faith.


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