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Have you ever dreamed of working in a field that seems perfect for your talents and aspirations, only to realize later that it’s closer to a horror movie than the career of your dreams?
You’re far from alone.
Whether they have no experience or plenty, most people at some point in their lives face a difficult decision: accept something less than what they wanted out of fear or try something more risky and potentially end up with nothing at all.
The stakes are high; after all, your career can be one of life’s great sources of happiness, fulfillment, or dread.
Here are 16 signs your dream job could turn into a real-life nightmare!
#1. Your Responsibilities Keep Changing
If your duties and responsibilities keep evolving or showing up out of nowhere, this could be a sign that you’re not getting the support you need to succeed.
It may mean that you don’t have enough resources, knowledge, or training to tackle certain tasks, which is a major red flag.
Similarly, if your employer keeps adding more work to your plate without additional compensation or recognition, this could be a sign that the job isn’t as fulfilling as it initially seemed.
#2. Constant Confrontation With Management
If you feel like your manager is always confronting or criticizing you, this could be a sign of a toxic work environment.
It may mean that the company doesn’t have a clear strategy or that management isn’t adequately organized to give employees the support they need.
Ultimately, it could be a sign that your job isn’t as rewarding as you had originally anticipated.
#3. Unclear Job Expectations
Any time the interviewer cannot clearly explain the position or what success looks like in the position, this is a worrying sign.
If there is no clear understanding, you will not know what to do or prioritize.
Even worse, when the company figures things out in time, they will use it against you that you weren’t meeting expectations, even though they were unclear from the start.
#4. Generous Severance Packages
We all want to be paid well, and if you work for a company long enough and get laid off, they offer you a severance package.
The problem is when the interviewer mentions to you during the hiring process that they offer generous severance packages. This should not be a perk to entice people to come work for the company.
You must understand if overtime is required or not at the new job.
Depending on the industry and your role, the answer will vary.
However, one person shared that when they asked about overtime in the interview, the manager responded, “Well, the overtime isn’t mandatory, but most folks stick around after hours most days.”
This is a subtle way of saying you will have more work than you can get done, so be prepared to stay late most days.
#6. You’ll Be Wearing Many Hats
Saying you will be wearing many hats is a gentler way of saying the company is understaffed and you will be doing the work of four people and earning the wage of one.
This is a classic move of many employers; sadly, even current employees are not immune from it.
If a co-worker quits, the other person picks up the slack until the company hires a new person.
However, the company never planned on hiring a new person, just saving money instead.
#7. Training New Employees
When talking about training, does the interviewer mention there is no training?
In some cases, this might not be an issue, but most other times, it is.
If there is no training, you are left on your own to figure things out.
Worse yet, you find out that new employees are training other new employees. With few seasoned employees, this could be a cause for concern.
#8. Saying Yes To Everything
During the interview process, it is natural for you to ask for things, like does the company help pay for classes if you go back to get a master’s degree.
But this becomes an issue when the company is overly eager to say, “Yes, we could do that!” to everything you ask.
This could be a sign they are desperate to hire people.
#9. Using ‘Family’ When Referring To Employees
Many times when you hear this, it means you will not be seeing your actual family because you will be stuck at work, putting in 80+ hours a week.
An excellent follow-up to this is to ask what it means to be family and if they can explain this in more detail.
Many times the truth will come out in their response.
#10. Can’t Go Out For Lunch
Some people enjoy going out to lunch occasionally, just to get away from work.
Even though it is simple, removing yourself from the environment can help you to recharge for the afternoon.
While you wouldn’t think to ask if you could go out for lunch, one person interviewing with a company did. The response was shocking.
“The boss doesn’t like people going out to get lunch because they’re afraid you’ll never come back, so being your own lunch.”
If you get this reply, you leave the interview and don’t look back.
#11. Work Hard, Play Hard
This is a catchphrase that more and more companies use.
The reason it’s a red flag because most companies don’t follow through with the play hard part.
They work employees to the bone and then think offering free soft pretzels once a year is a worthy thank you.
If you get this response, follow up by digging deeper into what they mean by playing hard.
#12. What Do You Like About Working Here
One question many ask before accepting a job offer is learning what current employees like most.
A good answer could be that the company treats you fairly by offering sizable raises and fun events on Fridays.
But when the answers are more along the lines of the office location being great or something other than the actual job, this is a warning you need to pay attention to.
One person shared, “Watch the interviewers faces when you ask, they’ll react honestly immediately with their expressions before they answer. If their face falls or they look confused or annoyed, delta out of there.”
#13. Total Compensation vs Actual Numbers
If no one can give you an actual salary, or a small range of what your salary will be, it’s a bad sign.
Also, if they try to explain away a low salary with all the exciting benefits, this too is a sign.
#14. Taking an IQ Test
Many companies ask new hires to take an IQ test to make sure they fit in with the culture of the workplace.
But the issue is the results could put you into a role you don’t want.
And no matter how hard you work, you are stuck because of the results of the test.
#15. We Don’t Like Clock-Watcher Here
If the company you’re applying for is more worried about how many hours you stay at work, and less interested in what you actually produce in those hours; it spells out trouble!
A good boss will always be focused on results not presence.
If you’re expected to pull extra shifts and are discouraged from taking breaks, it’s time to find a better workplace.
Be wary of any job that requires more than a 40-hour workweek without ample pay.
You should also look out for managers who expect you to be available 24/7 with no additional compensation or overtime pay.
#16. “Keep Your Salary Between You And Me”
No one should be shamed or discouraged from discussing their salary openly and honestly.
A workplace where you can’t talk about wages is a place of distrust and inequality, and it could lead to unequal pay for women and minorities.
If your potential employer doesn’t want you to share your wage with other employees, this signals an unhealthy culture of secrecy and unfairness.
Jobs That Pay Cash
If you need cash right away, a typical job won’t work for you. You will have to wait a week to get paid, or in some cases, two weeks.
Luckily there are other options out there. Here are the best places to make cash under the table and walk out with cash in hand at the end of the day.
Sell Feet Pictures For Serious Cash
Selling pictures of your feet can be a significant income stream. Some people report earning six figures a year doing this easy job.
All you need is a camera and two feet and you are in business. Here is all you need to know to make life changing wealth selling images of your feet.
Make Money While You Sleep
Yes, you can make money while you sleep. There are a handful of jobs out there that will earn you an income even after you stop working for the day.
The trick is finding the right one for you.
How To Invest In Yourself
We all know we grow wealth by investing in the stock market or putting our money into savings accounts.
But many of us are unaware that the best returns are by investing in ourselves. When we improve ourselves, we have the ability to earn a lot more money, which makes it easier to become filthy rich.
How To Ask For A Raise
Do you want to make more money? Of course you do! Sadly, most people wait until their review to ask for a raise and are disappointed when the answer is no.
A better solution is to follow a plan that ensures you get a raise of 5% or more.
This thread inspired this article.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.