6 Warning Signs to Watch for When Evaluating a Job Offer

If you’re just starting your career in the interactive design field, it’s understandable to feel compelled to jump at the first job offer that comes your way. But before automatically saying yes, be mindful there are times when passing on an opportunity is the best choice.

While salary and benefits are obviously important factors, there are other things to consider when deciding whether to accept an employment offer. Here are six red flags to watch out for before accepting a new position:

warning signs, saying no to a job offer

1. Cultural incompatibility

Many creative and web professionals thrive in relaxed, loosely structured environments, but others enjoy a more buttoned-up atmosphere. The bottom line is if you don’t mesh with an employer’s corporate culture, there’s a good chance you’ll be unhappy. Every new employee should plan to make some adjustments in order to acclimate (like removing a facial piercing or arriving at the office a little earlier than at a past job), but you can’t fundamentally change who you are or what you value.

2. A failure to connect

Your level of rapport with your would-be manager and colleagues is worth careful consideration. After all, you’ll be spending 40-plus hours a week with them. How well did you get along with those you met during the interview process? Were people welcoming and engaged, or did they seem tense or too busy to be bothered? It takes time to build camaraderie, but it’s also important to listen to your gut if something seems off. First impressions often prove to be accurate ones.

3. Questionable commitment to technology and design

Cutting-edge interactive agencies obviously value design. But not all employers give their creative departments robust resources. What technical tools will be at your disposal? Will you be working with dated software applications and a decade-old PC? Has the company won any design awards lately? What about funding for professional development? Are employees encouraged to attend technical training seminars and interactive design conferences? A lack of support could lead to endless frustration.

4. High turnover

Ideally, both the job and organization you’re considering should have a history of stability. Ask the employer why the last few people left the job you’ve been offered, and how long they had been in the role. If a string of others have been unsuccessful in that specific position, it might be because the workload is overwhelming and the employer has unrealistic expectations. Or, it could be that the job is one of the first to be eliminated when layoffs occur. Neither is a good thing.

5. No clear career path

Try to get a realistic idea of the growth opportunities, too. Have other interactive designers moved up the ladder at the firm? If so, how did they do it? When and where did your prospective manager start out? If the answers don’t support a policy of promoting from within, you might want to keep looking.

6. Poor reputation

Before the company offered you the job, they checked your references, right? You should be equally diligent. Do some online detective work and tap your network for additional insights. Your findings should align with what the company says about itself. Alarms should go off if a pattern of negative comments about the organization begins to emerge.

Receiving a job offer is exciting, but give yourself time to thoughtfully assess the situation. By taking a strategic approach to evaluating the pros and cons of the opportunity—and being aware of the red flags highlighted above—you’ll be more confident in your decision. And if you ultimately opt to continue searching, use what you’ve learned to target organizations that offer the type of culture and advancement opportunities you seek.

Handshake illustration by Aidan Jones