Top Ten Ways to Spot a Dead-End Job

Last Updated Sep 16, 2009 9:29 AM EDT

How to spot a dead-end jobYesterday's post on how to get a raise in a recession ended with a little tough love from modite's Rebecca Thorman: if you're in a dead-end job with no hope of promotion, start polishing your resume. It's bracing advice but sensible, but there's one small problem. When you're interviewing for a new position, it's not always easy to tell a job that is going somewhere from a job that's going exactly nowhere, especially when you're relatively inexperienced. So how can you tell whether the gig you're up for is going to be any better than the stagnant one you left behind?
CAREEREALISM's Rob Taub has a top ten list for that. Just imagine a fun David Letterman style delivery as you peruse these ten ways you can tell you're interviewing for a dead-end job:
  • Number 10: The position for which you are interviewing is vacant for a long time... Before letting someone go or sensing if someone wants to go, [well-run companies] will be ready with a replacement.
  • Number 9: When asked how the company measures its success in the market, the interviewer offers a self-constructed analysis-- he's making it up!
  • Number 8: Interviewer offers only vague generalizations about where the company would like to be, concluding with, "hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it". The correct thinking: better improve it before someone else does.
  • Number 7: When you bring up Internet marketing or SEO, his or her eyes start to close.
  • Number 6: When asked who they feel are their main competitors, you're fed the old unsubstantiated line, "we don't have any".
  • Number 5: When you ask how the position has changed over the years the response is, "it hasn't."
  • Number 4: When you ask the interviewer to tell you something about the particulars of the job you hear, "very steady work; lots of job security."
  • Number 3: When you ask if the Interviewer has any tips before you leave and he or she says, "just make sure you have some fun out there."
  • Number 2: When you ask your would-be boss how long he or she has been in their job, you hear, "since the company started."
  • And finally, THE NUMBER 1 REASON YOU WILL KNOW IT'S A DEAD-END JOB AND SHOULD HIGH-TAIL IT TO THE DOOR -- When asked if the he or she is happy with where the company is today, the interviewer replies, "hey, it pays the bills and keeps the kids in tennis lessons!"
OK, the advice isn't delivered in the most serious of styles, but the nugget of truth remains. There are usually red flags in an interview that a position is not suited for ambitious, career-minded individuals. What warning signs do you look out for, or wish you hadn't missed?

(Image of dead end sign by JustinLowery.com, CC 2.0)
  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.

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