How to Spot Bad (or Mediocre) Employers
You may at some point in your job search, encounter an employer who
just does not seem to be a good fit for you and you have some questions
about what they do or who they really are. There are red flags
that suggest questionable credibility. There are ways to uncover
the credibility of the employer.
the Company Isn't Professional
An example is the email received from Sonya who said, "I sent my resume,
portfolio URL, and cover letter to a company last week; addressed to a
Vice President as indicated in the advertisement. Several days
later I got back a letter that was grammatically incorrect and
unprofessional. I guess you could say at least I got a reply."
She went on to say, "Sometimes you just get a little put off when you
try so hard to do things correctly and you either don't get a response
or you get a really bad one from someone who has the title of Vice
Would this make you wonder whether you wanted to work for a company that
was this unprofessional?
It's not just written communications. It can be off-putting to be called
repeatedly by an overly aggressive recruiter who has an opportunity that
is absolutely too good for you to pass up, but, who can't divulge the
employer until much later in the hiring the process.
No one is impressed either, by hiring managers who don't show up for
interviews, without rescheduling in advance. One job seeker once said he
spent over an hour getting to the interview site, only to be told by a
secretary that he needed to come back at a later date.
Keep in mind, that even if you need a job very badly, you don't have to
accept a job you're not comfortable with. All of the above scenarios,
are red flags and should give you pause. At the least, you will want to
consider whether the employer who doesn't communicate effectively or
appropriately is one you want to work for.
Signs to Watch For
Poor Communication Skills
When an employer can't communicate effectively, by email, phone, or in
writing, with candidates for employment, be careful. If all their
communications are handled that way, how well are they running a
Whenever you hear a recruiter or hiring manger say that you absolutely
can't pass up this opportunity and you have to send your resume, drop
everything and interview, etc. right now, you might wonder what the
sense of urgency is. Perhaps, it's a legitimate opportunity that needs
to be filled immediately or maybe it's just an overzealous recruiter or
manager trying to meet a hiring quota.
Jobs That Sound too Good to be True
That old mantra that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,
still holds true. One person who was in the midst of a job search was
told by a recruiter that an employer was hiring a high level executive
for a top secret multi-million start-up company. When the job seeker
inquired further, he found out that the start-up wasn't funded, that it
had no existing products, or even a marketing plan.
a Job Seeker Can Do
There are a few things you can do when you see a red flag. You can stop,
or at least, halt the hiring process temporarily while you research the
company. There isn't anything the matter with delaying sending your
resume or scheduling an interview if you're hesitant about whether you
want to work for the company. To help you determine if the company
is reputable or not, there are some links below that provide very good
contact the State's Attorney Office in MD and how to report fraud.
here to contact the Better
Business Bureau in any state
here for "Interview Red Flags-How to Spot a Bad Employer" Good
Remedies for Unpaid Wages - (What to do and where to go)
If you are an employee whose wages have been illegally withheld, you
have three options under the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law (you may only choose one):
Employment Standards Service (ESS), at (410) 767-2357, can
provide information on wages and employment rights under Maryland law.
On receipt of a proper claim for unpaid wages available by calling (410)
767-2357 or on line at www.dllr.state.md.us/labor , ESS will conduct an
independent investigation and work to collect any pay which is
determined due. This may include taking the employer to court if the
matter cannot be informally settled.
- *For those wishing to file a claim for
unpaid wages, and for quickest results, it is suggested that a CERTIFIED
letter RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, be sent to the employer stating the
amount of money owed, identifying the hours and days or commissions this
money represents, and demanding payment by a specific deadline (such as
10 days from receipt of the certified letter). It may help collection on
the claim later to send the letter Certified Mail, as suggested, so as
to receive back the green receipt proving the employer signed for and
received it. In addition, a copy of this letter should be kept and later
provided together with a claim form to the Employment Standards Service
if the employer still does not pay. To request a claim form be mailed
call 410-767-2357 or you may download the claim form on line by visiting
our web site at www.dllr.state.md.us follow to >Labor and Industry>Wage & Hour>Claim
Form. Be sure to answer all questions and follow all directions when
completing the claim form. The claim form must include your original
signature and be mailed to ESS before an investigation is initiated.
employee may file a lawsuit. Where a court finds that wages were
withheld in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment Law, and not as a
result of a bona fide dispute, the court may award damages of up to
three times the amount of the unpaid wage plus attorney fees.
employee may file criminal charges. Under certain circumstances,
Maryland law imposes criminal penalties for an employer who deliberately
fails to pay the wage of an employee without a valid reason, or provides
employment with the intent not to pay.
*Note on Jurisdiction
Claims for unpaid wages must be brought in the state in which the work
was performed. If work was performed in more than one state, claims may
generally be filed in the state in which the employer maintains its
business office-that is, the office where the employee reports to or was
hired out of.
The following is a list of phone numbers of wage and hour offices in
neighboring states and political subdivisions:
Virginia - (804) 786-2386
West Virginia - (304) 558-7890
Pennsylvania - (717) 787-4671
New Jersey - (609) 292-2337
Delaware - (302) 761-8200
Baltimore City - (410) 396-4835
Google the company name to find out what you can discover about it
online. Post questions on Bulletin Boards, like the About.com Job
Searching Forum, to see if anyone is aware of
the company. Check web sites that have company specific forums to see if you can
get any information that will help you decide whether to continue with
the hiring process, or not.
If you have a connection that will help you find inside information, use
it. Do you know someone who works there? Ask them about the company. If
you belong to a professional association, they may be able to help you
network with people who can give you advice. Use online networking
resources, like LinkedIn, as well. You may be surprised at how much you
can find out.
Bad (or Mediocre) Companies
It's important to keep in mind that not all companies are "good"
companies. They don't all operate professionally and you may not want to
work for a company that doesn't match your standards. You always have
the option of declining an interview, withdrawing your candidacy for
employment, or declining a job offer.
When it comes to accepting a position, the ball is in your court, and
you'll want to make an educated, informed decision to be sure the
opportunity is the right one for you.