7 Key Red Flags To Watch For In Software Job Listings

7 Key Red Flags To Watch For In Software Job Listings


4 min read

I've been going through an interview loop, applied for dozens of jobs and interviewed at several companies (both big and small).

Reading through job descriptions is the funniest part of the job hunt!

This article will show some signs you need to look out for when job hunting for your next software job.

Let's start.

First of All: Who Writes Job Descriptions?

According to an Indeed survey, the three most common people involved in writing job descriptions at small businesses are hiring managers (35%), owners/CEOs (29%) and HR departments (24%).[Indeed]

Many of these people have a non-technical background.

What Are Key Signs You Need to Watch Out for in Software Job Listings?

1. “We’re a Family”

I always get a bit concerned whenever I read the word "family" in job descriptions.

Now, there's nothing wrong with having great relationships with your colleagues and engineering manager.

I believe a company has a healthy culture when colleagues consider each other more than colleagues and friendships are formed outside of the workplace. Often, promotions are more about the relationships you have with other people.

But remember that a company is a business.

A company can decide to lay off their employees if it's needed for business reasons.

An article from Harvard Business Review explains brilliantly why picturing a company as a family is a red flag:

  1. Thinking of a company as a "family" leads employees to forget about personal boundaries and get attached to the company.

  2. Being too loyal does more harm than good: it may lead engineers to work more hours.

  3. As I mentioned before, a business, if needed, will have to let someone go. In a company that brands itself as "family", this decision can be taken personally.

2. Being Able To Multi-task

Being able to multi-task is another potential red flag to look out for.

Software engineering in itself is already a multi-faceted role.

"Multi-tasking" invites the idea of having to take on roles that are outside of your scope.

Often, employers want software engineers to be able to carry out multiple tasks (and sometimes other roles) with no pay variation.

2. Work Under Pressure

This one is probably the one which I cannot stand the most.

Let's clarify that companies often have periods in the calendar year when things need to go faster than other times. This is normal and expected.

However, if a company lists "being able to work under pressure" as a requirement, my concern is that that's how the company operates. It's the standard.

You might want to look out for this and ask questions when speaking with the recruiter.

3. Hit The Ground Running

"Hit the ground running" means being able to work at full speed from day one.

This is a sign of a company which:

  1. Doesn't understand the value of a great onboarding experience.

  2. Doesn't understand that getting familiar with a new codebase takes time.

  3. Everyone learns at different speeds.

The problem with a “hit the ground running” mentality is that it celebrates speed over quality. It suggests that a top performer at one company can perform at that same level right away at another. [...][Kate Reilly - LinkedIn]

Related: How To Choose A Software Engineering Job

4. An Emphasis on Working “Very Quickly”

Software engineering is often perceived as a job where you must deliver as much code as possible in the shortest time possible.

If you think about it, there's the "10x Developer" character in this industry, someone who is 10 times more productive than other developers.

Companies that value working "very quickly" are potentially not interested in delivering quality software.

5. "Rockstar", "Guru", "Superstar", "Ninja"

These terms are simply senseless.

To start with, let's ask a simple question: "What's the point of a job title? Or job description?" Quite simply, they're used to label and describe the job that needs doing. Pretty obvious. The key point is that they're not about what you think of the job, they're about what they need to think the job is about.[Certified Hiring]

6. Emphasis on Flexibility

An emphasis on flexibility has nothing to do with the work mode. Meaning how and where you work. In this point, "flexibility" means having to adapt to the constant changes of minds and requirements.

Would you like to work in a place where requirements change on a daily basis?

7. Strong Work Ethic

Technically, there's nothing wrong with having a strong work ethic. Some people are hard workers by nature and genuinely love what they do.

However, this may signal that the company expects you to work 60+ hours per week.


This article described 7 key signs you need to look out for when reading software job listings.

You must have a conversation with the recruiter before deciding not to consider a company.

I hope this article is helpful to you.

Which one of these makes you run away? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time!


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