Guest blogger Donna Shannon of The Personal Touch Career Services is one of the few career coaches who works with the private service industry. Based in Denver, she has been teaching job searching workshops since 2004. Her book Get a Job Without Going Crazy: A Practical Guide to Your Employment Search (Booksurge Publishing, 2009) is available on Amazon.com.
It can be very exciting to get a job offer, especially if you’ve been looking for a while. However, taking a job that isn’t the right fit can be devastating – either you are miserable, or worse, you leave after only a couple of months.
So how can you spot these bad situations before you are in the job? Paying careful attention to these tell-tale signs of a “loser” job can save you tons of grief:
1. Unreasonable salary expectations
If the job description is three pages long but they are paying bottom-of-the-scale salary, this is a loser job. They want you to do everything, but they aren’t willing to pay you what you’re worth. If you’re working with a recruiter and they assure you this can be worked out, be cautious – sometimes their strong-arm tactics to raise the salary can create even higher job performance expectations or a secret resentment because they had to pay more.
One common trap for nannies is the addition of extra duties, such as housekeeping and cooking for the family. Keep in mind that your focus needs to be on the children, and make that clear to the employer during the interview. While picking up the children's rooms and preparing their meals may be normal, look out for the employer who is trying to get a housekeeper and family cook jobs filled by the nanny.
2. Disrespect in the interview
Disrespect can take any number of forms: waiting too long in the living room, constant interruptions when you’re talking and taking cell phone calls. I have heard stories of job seekers being subjected to 6-8 hour interviews and were never offered a snack, meal, glass of water or even a bathroom break. That’s a bad sign. Whenever an employer is being rude in an interview, you can bet that they will probably treat you the same way – or worse – on the job.
Of course, some people are extremely busy. If a crisis demands immediate attention or decision that just can’t wait, be patient and understanding. Stay alert and read the signs of the whole situation, not just your part in it.
Also, you might run into the situation where one of the parents leaves the room during the interview. This by itself is not a big red flag; it just means that they are leaving the final decision to their partner. However, do realize that you may encounter that same apathy on the job.
3. High turnover rate
High turnover is a huge sign that something is amiss. People don’t stay long when the boss is insufferable. To uncover this culprit, ask “what is your turnover rate?” If they answer, “well, we had some people who weren’t the right fit…” that means the home has a revolving door.
4. Bad mouths previous employee
Be sure to ask questions about what they did and did not like about the previous nanny. This helps to not only distance yourself from a previous bad employee, but also reveals the employers' attitude. It may be the case that the last person in this job was a disappointment. However, if the employer goes on and on about all the things that went wrong, be cautious. If they use crude language, cutting remarks or slanderous statements, run for the door.
5. Dismisses your questions
During every interview, you should get an opportunity to ask questions to your potential employer. Most of these are designed to show your own expertise. But if the employer isn’t willing to listen to you and your questions, it is a sign of disrespect – a disrespect that will probably carry over to the job.
6. Attitude towards children
This may sound strange, but some employers want the nanny to take care of everything for their children - to the point of sacrificing their own relationship with the children. If the parents only focus on business and the technical aspects of the job, be cautious. Ask questions about the children, such as favorite activities, school performance, important milestones and so on. If the parent only offers vague answers, then they are not involved with their children. The nanny-child relationship should reinforce the parents' relationship for the child; not replace it.