How to Spot a Problem Job Before You Apply for It

How to Advance Your Career

Job-hunting is like dating: Before you get married to a new partner, you'd better make sure they're a good match for you. Unfortunately, jobs -- like mates -- don't always reveal their flaws until after you've made a commitment.

Still, job listings often contain all the warning signs you need in order to avoid disaster, provided you know what you're looking for.

"Not only does applying for the wrong job waste your time, but it also puts you in a position in which you might accept a role you wind up hating. And that's where reading job descriptions strategically comes into play," author Maurie Backman writes in an article for The Motley Fool. "If you take the time to look out for red flags, you might save yourself the hassle of applying for roles that only spell bad news."

One of the biggest red flags to look for is a long list of job requirements. "Employers want to make sure they're hiring qualified candidates for the positions they have open. But there comes a point at which a given company might have its expectations set too high," Bauckman explains. "If a single job description comes with a lengthy list of highly specific requirements -- ones that the average professional in your field is likely to fall short on -- then take it as a sign that the employer might have unreasonable demands that could translate into a miserable working experience once you're hired."

Too few details can be just as alarming as too many requirements. "If you stumble upon a job listing that's missing lots of details, it's a sign that the company behind it is disorganized or poorly managed," Bauckman says. "Furthermore, missing details could be a sign that the company hasn't yet determined what the associated job's daily responsibilities will actually entail. And unless you're ultra-flexible, that's probably not a situation you want to sign up for."

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