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51% of workers are likely to look for a new job this year: How to spot red flags before you interview

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Key Points
  • More than half, 51%, of American workers say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a February 2022 Bankrate survey of 2,449 adults.
  • As you're applying, it's important to watch out for red flags that indicate a company you want to work for won't be the right fit — or worse, is toxic.
  • Read their reviews on Glassdoor, see what former employees are saying on social media, and reach out to former employees to get their take.

Just over half, 51% of Americans say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a recent Bankrate survey of 2,449 adults. Post pandemic, among workers' key priorities are higher pay (52%), flexible work hours (43%), and the ability to work remotely (34%).

Watch out for any red flags that indicate the company won't be the right fit — or worse, is toxic.

"What the Great Resignation is helping us all appreciate is, actually, we do have choices," says Gorick Ng, Harvard career adviser and author of "The Unspoken Rules." "We don't actually have to be" anywhere we don't want to be.

Here are three strategies that can help you spot red flags at a company even before you begin the interview process:

'Go right to the negative reviews' on Glassdoor

Say you've homed in on five different jobs you're interested in at five different companies. To get a sense of what it could be like to work at these companies, "I'll go onto an organization's Glassdoor or Blind page," says Ng, "and I'll go right to the negative reviews."

Glassdoor alone offers reviews of more than 600,000 companies.

People write negative reviews for a variety of reasons, like a personal snub by a boss or coworker, so it's important to be discerning. As you read them, ask yourself, "Why did they say these things? And how credible does this person seem? And what are the patterns across one person's reviews against another's?" says Ng.

Then, based on what you read, decide whether this negative feedback matters to you.

"Maybe it doesn't," says Julie Bauke, chief career strategist with The Bauke Group, "and that's okay." The point is just to be aware of what people are saying and what kind of work life you might be setting yourself up for.

Check social media to see 'people's honest opinions'

Another way to get a sense of what a company's like even before the interview process is to peruse social media.

Ng suggests checking Reddit for any discussions about that particular place of work, and searching for posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or blogs by former or current employees to read "people's honest opinions about this place."

"Some organizations, you'll do a quick search and you'll start seeing words that you really don't want associated with your employer like 'scam,' like 'toxic work culture,'" he says. "Don't waste your time with an organization like that."

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'Go on LinkedIn and find people who've been in the seat'

You can also look for people who've previously worked at that company and see if you can chat with them directly.

"I think it's advisable to go on LinkedIn and find people who've been in the seat that you're looking to go into or at least may know of that company's culture, and ask them questions," says Bauke.

Do a search for people who used to work at that company, and shoot them a message saying, "Hey, I'm interested in this organization. I noticed you worked there from this date to this date. Just curious if you would be able to hop on the phone for 15 minutes to share your experiences," says Ng.

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He gives the example of a former client looking to work at a start up. When Ng's client reached out to a former employee of the startup, he says, that individual replied "avoid, avoid, avoid."

If all of that sounds like it'll take up too much of your time, even a simple Google news search can surface glaring problems with a company, like pending lawsuits or controversies with executives.

Don't feel pressured to proceed with interviews if you spot a bunch of red flags, Ng says: "You have more options than you think. And the more you know what you're signing up for, the more deliberate you can be with your time."

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