5 Red Flags of an Untrustworthy Employer

After job searching for a long time without result, we are all familiar with that little buzz of excitement when you finally do get a response from a potential employer, bringing you a step closer to landing a job. It can be easy to quickly respond to an employer or recruiter, expressing your eagerness at being given an opportunity, taken in by the mouthwatering offers of a new role.

Except, there are a few key aspects to consider before jumping in headfirst.

Sometimes job offers can be so appealing that there are some details you forget to check when making your decision. A third of your day will potentially be spent in a job and you want to make sure that you will get on at a new company and that the job doesn’t turn out to be as bitter-tasting as a mouldy orange.

Here are some red flags to watch out for throughout the job process, to help you make a full-informed decision as to whether the company is really somewhere you want to work:

  1. Asking for an Upfront Fee

It may seem hard to believe that there are some employers out there that would ask for a fee to be paid in order to start work, but they can exist.

Let’s face it, unless you’re starting up your own business, there should never be a cost attached to working for somebody else – certainly not an employer hiring you as their employee. The only other exception might be if the job requires a DBS check and you are asked to pay for it upfront and it is then reimbursed in your first wage.

One company I applied to had excellent-sounding prospects, but at the end of the interview they landed me with a £150 fee for some of the software I would need to use. Needless to say, I promptly said my goodbyes and didn’t hear back from them.


  1. Asking you to Go Self-Employed

One client had what was an average office job answering customer queries: flexible hours within office hours and reasonable expectations. Again, it wasn’t until at the end of the interview that he was told he would need to go self-employed – to start with – until he had been there for a while. This, of course, never happened, because the company found reasons to let go of several people – including him – during the few short months he was there. Going self-employed saves a business money on rights to leave and may be fine for some people, but this means that you have no rights or pay if you are ever sick or want to take time off. Also, you are subject to being let go by the employer at any time – for any reason – and there is no contract in place to give you any rights.


  1. Communication Seems A Little Confused

Communication is as consistent as the wind in terms of letting you know about your progress in the job process and what is to come next. You turn up for an interview, are told to wait in a particular place and, 20 minutes later, are approached by a manager who tells you that they have been waiting in the interview room with you for the last 20 minutes!

As if it is your fault! Waiting a long time between applying, going for interview and other aspects don’t look good, either.

Little occurrences like this show a lack of communication between managers and other staff, which indicates that this may filter through to other departments as well. You don’t want to work for a company that operates ineffectively like this.


  1. They Don’t Reveal the Full Details Straight Away – or Don’t Get Them Right

Once you have your interview, you should have a clear idea about what the job involves, the expectations around performance and any targets you will be expected to meet. If you do ask and they say you can find out more later, that spells odd to me and means that either they are keeping details from you, or there is something they don’t want to tell you until you have accepted the job.

From experience, I can say that agencies are particular culprits of this: Many of you will have experienced this from some – saying the right things to get you in the door. There are also some companies that sell a role in a certain way, but when you start, you find out that the targets are high, the pressure high and that you may not have the responsibilities you were  told you would have.


  1. Nobody Seems to Have Worked There Long  

    Does your employer always seem to be hiring?

Fair enough, if the company is relatively new then you can expect that staff will not have been there long; but if it is a long-standing company, you may question why.

When you have the interview and meet some of the team members in the workplace, they don’t seem to have been working there for more than a year or two.
You want to know that there are at least one or two long-standing staff members to give you a little bit of confidence that the employer is worth working for.

There may be nothing in the fact that staff haven’t worked there long – but this may also be indicative of the company having a higher than average turnover of staff.

I would absolutely question this and explore what is causing staff to up and leave after a short time. Check out websites such as Glassdoor and Trust Pilot which provide give accurate insights and reviews from ex-employees of many companies.