Two employment-related problems stand in the way of long-term happiness after leaving the military, and one leads directly to the other. Neither is a situation anyone wants to be in when they start their first post-military job.
The first is underemployment, which means you’re not making enough money, you’re in a job that doesn’t fit your skills, or your skills aren’t growing as a civilian employee.
The second problem is just plain being miserable in that job.
Being underemployed can cause a lot of stress for a transitioning veteran, but even having a job that fits well can be difficult when the company culture is toxic. Here are ways to spot a bad workplace.
1. The Company Tour
If you did very well in the interview and a company is considering hiring you, the recruiter will likely give you a look around the workplace, show you what life is like at the company and talk about working there every day. If, on the other hand, the interviewer shuffles you into a room, they aren’t necessarily trying to hide anything, but they also aren’t being entirely open.
Be sure to ask about these day-to-day aspects of the company and see if they will show you around before you take the job. It’s also OK to ask an interviewer what parts of his or her job they like best.
2. Details Matter
Beyond what the workcenter looks like, details are important in any aspect of a new job. Online job board sites give job seekers an exact description of their work, exact requirements and exact details on pay and benefits. But many new hires don’t go through those sites, finding their jobs other ways, such as networking or headhunters. This is where finding out the details is most important.
If an interviewer or HR professional is giving vague answers to questions about the position or the pay and benefits, it could be a warning sign that the job is not as defined as one might expect. For those who thrive in chaos, that might be OK. But for military personnel accustomed to order and structure, it could be disastrous.
Then, there are the pay and benefits. Every business knows what a position is worth to the company and how much it can offer a candidate for that position. As the interview process moves forward, these details should get firmer — especially when an offer is made. Any business that isn’t firm with an offer or counteroffer should raise a red flag.
3. The Interviewer
There’s a good chance the person interviewing job candidates will work for the company itself and could be a reliable gauge of its culture. If this person is disrespectful, arrogant or is in some way overtly rude, it could be a reflection of the rest of the company.
Of course, it could just be that person has a bad attitude. But first impressions count, and they’re looking at candidates with a close eye, so candidates should be looking right back. After all, if they’re interviewing the right person for the job, they want you to say yes when the offer is made.
4. Do the Research
It’s imperative that a candidate know what the company does, who’s running it and a little about the industry through extensive online research. But aside from the obvious avenues of getting information, there are websites that review companies from an employee’s perspective.
Glassdoor.com and other review sites should be one of the places job seekers go to learn more about company culture. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s completely OK to ask the interviewer about it, especially if you’re about to get an offer.
5. Talk With Employees
Networking sites exist for a reason. Any candidate who is considering getting a job is free to go on a career-oriented social network and search for potential colleagues by company. Connect with some of those employees and ask for real insider knowledge.
If someone is unhappy with the company or their job, they’ll be happy to tell you. But make sure you talk to multiple people. You don’t want to gauge an entire company’s culture based off the opinion of one disgruntled employee.