Watch for these job posting red flags

Companies that don't have a social media presence or posts that don't list salary or benefit information are a big turnoff, SimplyHired survey finds.

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Candidates are leery when a company lacks a social media presence, so much so that nearly two in five online applicants said they'd be unlikely to apply if a posting led to a poorly constructed website, according to SimplyHired.

The survey of more than 1,000 online applicants in the last year found that roughly 42% of Americans said a company that lacks social media presence is "untrustworthy," the job site said.

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Further, 85% of job applicants read employee reviews before submitting a job application, and more than 68% of applicants said it is unlikely that they would apply to a company with negative reviews.

Most common job posting red flags

Recent applicants were asked about the red flags they had witnessed when browsing job listings. Fifty-seven percent said they encountered posts where the salary or benefits information weren't listed, the most common red flag. 

"Although smart negotiation tactics help to make salary more of a starting point than a hard number, it can be difficult for an applicant to discern a ballpark figure without a salary range listed," SimplyHired noted. "Moreover, a complete lack of salary information could mean the company is worried about scaring away applicants with a low number."

Encountering posts over a month old was also common, with 53% of respondents saying they had seen them before. "Similar to a lack of salary information, an old post may have certain implications, such as nobody wanting to work for the company,'' SimplyHired noted.

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If a month has gone by, an employer may want to consider updating the listing or work with a recruiter to help fill the vacant seat, the company said.

Forty-nine percent claimed they read an unclear job description, which was another big red flag. "While there are reasons an employer might withhold salary information or take more than a month to fill a role, there really is no excuse for writing a vague job description,'' SimplyHired said.

"Beyond being a turnoff for potential applicants, an unclear job description can indicate the company hasn't thought through the job role and nailed down what the position's core responsibilities should be," the company said.

Conversely, a post containing a long list of requirements was a red flag for 40% of respondents. Other red flags were a job listing that stresses earning potential over starting salary (40%); encountering a job posting that leads to a poorly designed company website (29%); the posting has an unclear company mission (24%); and when its job description doesn't match the job title (nearly 23%).

Certain job postings are so bad applicants won't apply

Over 76% of respondent candidates said they are unlikely to apply for a job if the post says the candidate will need to complete low-paid or an unpaid trial period. Nearly 74% said they would be unlikely to apply for a job if the post asks for sensitive information, while 64% said they would be unlikely to apply if the job description is unclear. Almost 59% said they would probably not apply for a job if the description doesn't match the title.

Meanwhile, at least one third of all respondents said they were unlikely to apply to a job posting for any of those red flags. Interestingly, almost 16% said they would be not at all willing to ignore a job posting red flag if they were desperate for work, while nearly 37% said they would be "slightly willing" to.

On the flip side, 58.5% said they have applied to a job posting after spotting a red flag.

"Nowadays, job hunting is primarily done online--COVID-19 has only exacerbated that fact with so many out of work and quarantined in their homes,'' said Claire Cole, the lead researcher at SimplyHired.

It is crucial for a job applicant to know what to look out for when viewing job listings, she said. "Things like no website or social media, ambiguous job descriptions and no clear job duties can be key indicators that the job posting may not be legitimate and might be worth clicking away from. More than anything, know your worth as a future employee, and don't entertain a job listing that doesn't feel right to you."

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