If you’re actively seeking a new IT position or considering starting a job search, know that now is a good time for it.

It’s a job seeker’s market, with companies reporting a competitive hiring environment that has many of them planning to offer extra perks and better pay to attract the best talent.

As you’re evaluating your options and the benefits of new positions, be sure you’re also on the lookout for potential red flags. It’s important to know what could signal that a company may not treat its people well, foster a positive atmosphere, or have a promising future you want to invest in.

Red flags that could potentially indicate a job you don’t want to take include:

  • Low morale on the part of current or past employees
  • Managers with a negative track record, poor communication skills, or lack of respect for their subordinates
  • Pay and benefits that are not competitive with the industry
  • Antiquated technology or technology policies
  • Lack of opportunities for professional development or promotions
  • Consistently poor work-life balance
  • A disorganized hiring process that lacks good communication or transparency
  • A hiring process that goes either extremely fast or extremely slow – indicating either desperation to hire, or a team that doesn’t function well
  • Interviews that feel one-sided or do not seem to focus on relevant topics

So, how do you assess whether a job you’re considering has one of these problems? Consider the following tips:

Talk to current and former employees: The best source of information on the pros and cons of any given workplace are the people who already work there. But if you can, don’t just rely on the HR professionals and hiring managers you meet during formal interviews.

Reach out to current or former employees to ask if you can take them for coffee and ask them questions about their experience. Take advantage of the informal environment to chat about what they like or don’t like about the company, and, in the case of former employees, why they left.

Check out online reviews: If you don’t have any direct connections to the company, or even if you do but want to get more perspectives, take some time to skim online reviews on websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Vault.

These sites let current and former employees rate companies and write reviews of their experience with the organization and its management that can give you useful insight. Keep in mind that online reviewers often tend to skew toward one end of the spectrum – either especially bad or especially positive experiences – so no single experience may be representative of the majority of employees. However, it can still give you an idea of whether there is a history of issues or a generally positive assessment of the organization.

Ask plenty of questions during the interview: When your interviewers ask whether you have questions for them, make sure you do! (And if they don’t offer time for your questions, consider that a bad sign in itself.) This is your chance to find out about things like:

  • Training and onboarding processes
  • Tech support
  • Career development opportunities
  • Team culture and communication style
  • Operational processes
  • Current technologies used
  • Future technology investment plans

While no organization will be perfect, in the current hiring market, it’s worth your time to investigate, ask questions, and not be afraid to turn a position down if it doesn’t feel like a good fit or a good environment.

If you’re looking for more benchmarking information to help your job search, check out Summit’s free ebook, The State of IT Employment 2018. In it, you’ll find national salary data for various IT positions, information on popular IT certifications, industry trends, and more.

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