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11th Nov 2021

Red flags to look out for when applying to a job

Unfortunately, not every job is a great opportunity. We're here to tell you about some of the things you should watch out for when applying to a job.

It’s a sad truth that there are plenty of bad companies out there. Whether a company wants to take advantage of you, treat you badly, or is just unprofessional, it’s our whole team’s mission at Hitmarker to help you spot them. That’s why we’ve created a guide with some red flags to keep an eye out for during your job hunt, and how you can up your company research game.

If you experience any improper treatment during your gaming job hunt, or while employed, please let us know here.

When looking over a job description, you want to check out every section and make sure you feel comfortable with everything mentioned. You can find some things to look out for below, and why you need to be wary of certain issues.

Who is the company?

The first thing you want to know before applying to a job is who you’ll be working for. It can be very tempting to see an opportunity and dive straight into it without considering what kind of company you’re stepping into.

Most of where you’ll gain this knowledge comes from your research — which we will talk about at length later on — but something to take note of is how much the company talks about themselves. A company that’s proud to let you know who they are is much less likely to be one that has skeletons to hide than one that avoids the topic.

What would you be doing?

It’s important to understand what you would be doing in a new position. This not only lets you gauge if you’re capable of fulfilling the role, but shows what the company wants from a candidate.

If you’re applying for an entry level position that lists 17 different responsibilities that you’d be juggling, then you have to consider if the company is setting realistic expectations. You don’t want to go into a role and be required to do more than you are being paid for.

This is a warning sign, but not necessarily something that should completely turn you off. Some companies won’t expect every single responsibility to be solely on you, and you may have time to grow into some of them. If any of these concerns do come up, make a note of them and be sure to ask for more information in your job interview to ensure you’re not being set up to burnout in three months time.

On the other hand, if a company is vague or doesn’t list its job responsibilities, then this is a run-for-the-hills type issue. Not knowing what you’re expected to do allows companies to shift your role and use you for things you may not be trained in or enjoy doing.

The only exception to this are internship positions or general training roles where the company will hire someone with the express intention of giving them exposure to several different arms of the business. In these cases, it’ll be clearly stated in the job description that the role is broad and educational in nature.

Generally speaking, though: if a company isn’t being transparent with what a job is, there is usually a reason, and very rarely does that reason benefit you.

What kind of person is the company looking for?

Looking at what the job description states are ‘required’ and ‘suggested’ experience and skills in a vacuum isn’t too helpful to flag any issues, past whether you should be applying to the job in the first place that is.

However, it’s very useful to help you set an expectation of what the company should be offering in return for these requirements. We’ve mentioned how it’s a bad sign if a junior role is asking for too much work, but it can be equally concerning if a senior position doesn’t seem to expect much from its candidate; this can hint at the job offering very little in terms of benefits or pay.

You want to ensure that you’re someone the company would seriously consider for the position by fitting most of the requirements listed, and then that their standards match with the job and the reimbursement you’re expecting.

What benefits and payment are they offering?

Speaking of reimbursement, considering what a company is offering is vital before you send off your application. A disappointingly small number of companies list salaries outright, but where they do make sure it’s an amount you’re happy with that can support you.

This doesn’t mean that every part time or freelance contract is going to pay a full time living wage, but if you need to move to a new city and the job will be your only income source, then it needs to pay for rent and food. If a company requires relocation, offers no stipend to help with this, and isn’t paying enough to comfortably survive on, then it’s probably worth avoiding.

That being said, this isn’t always a company side issue. If you’re expecting an entry level job to pay $90,000 a year then you’re probably the one who needs to realign your expectations.

What are the accessibility options the company provides?

It might seem like the diversity and inclusion statement provided at the bottom of a job description don’t apply to you, especially if you don’t need any accommodations nor fall into a less-represented demographic. However, the attention a company puts into this area is an important indicator of how seriously they take inclusivity.

Companies that hire a diverse and varied workforce are not only better places to work, but they tend to be more innovative and successful. If a job description doesn’t make any effort to attract candidates of all demographics, and there is evidence to suggest that this is beneficial, then you should consider the motives behind omitting a strong statement.

Company research: why it’s important and how to go about it

We spoke earlier about how important researching a company is, so we wanted to give you some tips on exactly how to go about it and what you should be looking out for.

Starting your research in the obvious places—the company website and their social media—is not a bad thing by any means. This will help you get an idea of the company culture and the organization as they want you to perceive them. There are positives to most companies, and while this article has been a bit grim in tone there are still things to celebrate. Giving a company a chance to impress you can be very valuable, and will give you ammunition for your application — and interview if you land one.

Checking out social media for a company shouldn’t be restricted to posts a company makes. Keep an eye on how people interact with them and what people not associated with the company are saying, as this can reveal any information that the company isn’t so proud of. Don’t take every Tweet and Reddit reply as a verified report by any means, but if multiple sources are saying the same thing then it’s well worth considering.

Looking at review websites like Glassdoor is also a good tactic to see what people make of a company, especially those who have worked there in the past. You can find insights that aren’t available anywhere else here, so it should definitely be part of your research work flow.

Again, it’s important not to hone in on one specific review, whether it’s positive or negative, but do take trends into account. One person leaving a bad report after being fired may not be representative of the company as a whole, as you can’t be sure who’s really at fault. On the other hand, an average employee review of 1/5 does suggest that the company is not a great one.

The greatest tool we can suggest to get a broader view of a company is the Google news feature. Searching for the company’s name and then hitting the ‘news’ tab will give you the most recent articles and reports about the company.

This is the best way to see a more balanced feed of what the company has been up to, rather than just the positive or negative angle. Again, this can also present you with talking points for your application if there’s positive news about them, or a reason not to send one all together if their feed is littered with negative press.

Taking the time to carefully consider the job description, and doing your research to make sure you’re not going into a problematic company, can help to save you from some situations you’d rather avoid.

Of course, there may be red flags that we’ve not covered in this article, so our advice when applying to anything is to be diligent and thorough. It’s well worth it in the long run.

If you’re ready to start (or resume) your job hunt, make sure to check out the 12,000+ live video game opportunities we have listed on our site.

Good luck in your search — we’re all rooting for you!

Hitmarker 🧡

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