How to Spot a Toxic Workplace Before You Take the Job

You’ve been scrolling through job postings for hours, and you’re starting to feel a bit discouraged. Every posting seems like it’s looking for the entire team rather than just one person. But then you see it: the perfect job at the perfect company.

You start daydreaming about your great team, a boss that understands and supports you all the way, and inspiring leadership. But before you get too excited, remember not all that glitters is gold. Just because a company looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s actually a great place to work. In fact, many seemingly great companies are actually big ol’ dumpster fires.

So, how can you avoid wasting your time applying for jobs at places that will end up being toxic?

Here are a few tips:

1. Check out Their Social Media Presence

These days, most businesses have some social media presence, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Take some time to scroll through their feeds and get a feel of the overall company’s tone. Are they constantly putting out negative content? Probably not, but how does the comments section looks like? Are they posting only about their products or also about the people and initiatives they are undertaking?

2. See How They Treat Their Current Employees

One of the best ways to gauge whether a company is going to be toxic or not is observing how they treat their current employees. So, before you even apply for a job, take some time to look into the company and see what others have to say about it. Check out employee review sites, like Glassdoor and Indeed, and see what current and former workers have to say about the company’s culture, management, and work-life balance.

Do they frequently post negative reviews on sites, such as Glassdoor? Do their employees seem to keep leaving? These are red flags that you should take into consideration before applying.

Note: Glassdoor reviews are not always reliable because employees can write whatever they want and it’s hard to know whether the person was actually employed or it’s a fake review. Anyone can add a review or a fake review under any company. That is why some HR teams are adding positive reviews under their corporations.

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3. High Employee Turnover Rates

One of the first things you should look at when trying to spot a toxic workplace is the employee turnover rate. If there’s a high turnover rate, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. Not all high turnover rates are indicative of a toxic workplace, but it’s definitely something to be aware of. If you find that employees are regularly leaving after only a few months or even weeks on the job, that’s definitely a red flag.

Tip: If you have a good friend who works as a recruiter, you can ask them if they can check how many people are open for a job. When you have that number, you can find how many people from that company are on LinkedIn and calculate the percentage of all the individuals that are currently looking for a job. If it’s around 10%, then it is a healthy turnover rate, but if 40% are open to a new job, it could be a sign that something weird is going on there.

You can also get a better understanding of a company’s growth by checking “Insights” on their firm’s profile on LinkedIn (You will need to have a premium account).

LinkedIn Twitter

Or you can run this Google string: Company name + layoff. For example, Amazon Layoff. This will show you how often they are letting people go.

Google Amazon

4. Contact Their Employees

Check on LinkedIn if you have someone who works for their company in your LinkedIn network. If you do, reach out to them. They could offer you a sneak peek into the company’s culture, and you might even become their referral.

If those people you will reach out are constantly stressed out, anxious, or generally unhappy, that’s not a good sign. It could be indicative of a number of different things, but it’s definitely something you should be aware of. Unhappy employees are often more likely to leave their jobs, which can lead to a high turnover rate.

5. A Lack of Communication from the Management

Communication is key in a healthy workplace. Management should keep employees in the loop about what’s going on with the company and solicit feedback from workers about how they’re doing and what they need to improve upon. In a toxic workplace, however, communication often lacks.

This can lead to employees feeling isolated and out of touch with what’s going on in the corporation. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to start looking for another job. You can find hints if this happens in the company on Glassdoor (and other review sites) and from the people you approach.

Last Thoughts

No one wants to end up in a toxic workplace. But, unfortunately, it’s all too common these days. So, how can you avoid becoming another statistic? By doing your research ahead of time! Checking out a company’s social media presence, seeing how they treat their current employees, and researching their policies and procedures are all great ways to get a feel of what it would be like to work there. And if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably best to just move on to the next opportunity.

Spotting a toxic workplace before even applying for a job can save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. Bear in mind that there are three main red flags to look out for: high employee turnover rates, unhappy workers, and lots of negative online reviews. It’s best to move on and look for another opportunity if you see any of these red flags.

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