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  1. Learners will be able to evaluate job descriptions and contracts
  2. Learners will be able to prepare for the challenges of temporary employment and gig jobs
  3. Learners will be able to prepare important questions before accepting an offer

While red flags mean “stop,” and green flags mean “go ahead,” yellow flags mean “take care.” Seeing these signs in your job search doesn’t mean that a job isn’t worth taking, but they can help you spot potential problems early on.

Knowing the yellow flags of job searching makes it easy to understand which questions you should ask and what plans you should make before deciding on an offer.

Job Postings: A Closer Look

It’s frustrating to waste time applying, interviewing, and training for a job you want to leave as soon as you start. Sometimes there are big challenges you wish you had known about before accepting an offer. You won’t know certain things until you take a job, but with practice, you can spot the parts of a job posting that you’ll want to ask about before making a decision. Think about the following areas as you read through job postings.

Job Descriptions and Responsibilities

When applying for jobs online, you usually start by reading the job description and responsibilities. These two sections give you the best idea of the day-to-day work in a position, so you should look for postings with very clear expectations. A job description that promises easy work but doesn’t say what you’re doing is a red flag.

On the other hand, a job description that gives you a loose idea of the role and responsibilities is a yellow flag. A vague responsibility like “fulfilling all office-related duties” can mean almost anything. If you’re applying to work at a reception desk, you don’t want to be surprised to find out your job includes lots of driving, heavy lifting, or IT work. Unclear job information isn’t always a bad sign, but it can hide job tasks the company doesn’t want you to know about or understaffing that could mean you’ll end up doing the work of several employees instead of just one. Read the examples below to see the difference between unclear and clear expectations.

Employees will be responsible for the completion of all work on time.
Employees will be responsible for loading and unloading merchandise, completing deliveries, and filing daily reports.
Employees will travel as needed.
Employees will travel 20% of workdays in-state and 10% of workdays out-state.


Finding a job with lower requirements can feel like great luck, but it’s worth taking a second look. For example, if you see an opening for a restaurant manager position that doesn't require any previous experience working in restaurants, that's a yellow flag. On the other hand, openings like entry-level sales positions probably won't require any previous experience because employers train you when you are hired.

Scheduling Policies

The right schedule meets the needs of both the employee and the employer. Think about what you need from your work schedule, like the number of hours you should be working, time off for your life commitments, and flexibility for changes. If the expectations for any of the following policies are unclear, you should prepare to ask for more information.


For many people, the top priority for a job is whether the position is part-time or full-time. While the number of hours you work directly affects your paycheck, it also makes a big difference for your health insurance because most full-time positions are offered health care through their employer. This can save you thousands a year, but some employers attempt to save on costs by hiring for a full-time position while only assigning part-time hours. Though this practice is frustrating, it's completely legal. So, if you need a full-time job, make sure to ask how many team members receive full-time benefits and how many hours are assigned.

Additional Hours

While having too few hours creates problems, having more than you expected comes with its own issues. A short-staffed business may expect you to work more often than you’d like. And while extra shifts and money might sound good at first, they can lead to serious exhaustion and stress over time. Find out as much about the working expectations as possible during the hiring process to avoid feeling stuck in an overscheduled job. Ask about how often overtime work is expected, how hours are assigned, and what a busy day, week, or season looks like in that position. 

Schedule Changes/Time Off

When you take a job, you’ll want to be prepared for the process of rescheduling and taking time off. Some questions you may want to ask during the interview process are:

  • How far in advance will I know my schedule?
  • How much notice will I get before a schedule change?
  • What’s the process for requesting a scheduled day off?

Employers may exaggerate how flexible their schedules are, so if you have concerns, it’s a good idea to research a company's employee reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed. If you get the chance, it’s also a good idea to talk to current employees to ask what a regular shift or schedule looks like. If several employees are upset with how things are run, you’re probably not looking at a yellow flag situation; seeing many unhappy employee reviews is a red flag.

Most states don’t legally require businesses to offer vacation, holiday, or sick leave, so leave policies can change greatly from job to job or state to state. You can’t count on a minimum number of leave days when you take a position, so if you’re confused or unsure about how leave works, ask!
Calendar with many appointments

Timing and Turnover

Starting a new job is a big change, so it’s important that you’re comfortable with the pace your new employer does business. Every organization is different, but there are some signs that call for a closer look. Let’s look at what you can learn from how employees join, train for, and leave positions at a company.

Interview Process

The application and interview process can seem really slow when you're applying for jobs. According to Glassdoor, the average length of the hiring process in 2020 was 23.8 days. That number can vary; job sectors like restaurant and supermarket work had much shorter averages (10.2 and 12.3 days), but generally, a very fast hiring process is a yellow flag. You don’t want to work for a company that rushes big decisions or seems desperate to fill positions that workers keep leaving. Ask for more information if the interview process seems to be moving quickly or if the starting date is sooner than expected. If you’re qualified and a position has been empty for a long time, it may not matter that the employer is moving speedily. But if you’re uncomfortable with the pace of your hiring, you probably won’t be comfortable with the speed of business either.

Onboarding Process

Onboarding is the process of training and supporting employees as they start a new position. The onboarding experience can have a huge impact on employees and the company. If the employer doesn’t clearly lay out the onboarding process, you should ask for more information. The Society of Human Resource Management reported that longer onboarding processes are linked to better employee engagement, company reputation, and quality of new hires. On the other hand, rushed onboarding can be stressful for new hires. There’s always a lot to learn in a new position, so find out what to expect before accepting any offers.

Natural Turnover, High Turnover, and Growth

Turnover measures how many people leave a company in a certain amount of time. Imagine looking at a company of 100 workers' employment records for a year. 0% turnover means no one left the company during that time, and 100% turnover means they had 100 employees leave that year.

You shouldn’t decide if a company or job is a good fit based on turnover alone. People leave their jobs for plenty of reasons. Maybe they’re moving, taking care of family, returning to school, or retiring. These examples are sometimes thought of as “Natural Turnover.” But turnover also includes people who quit their jobs and those who are fired. If a company has a very high turnover rate, there’s a good chance that some employees are either quitting because they aren’t happy there or being fired for not meeting company standards.

But it can be hard to figure out what amount of turnover is “normal” and what amount should worry you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a chart of the turnover rates for different jobs over the past few years (see above). Some jobs have much higher turnover than others. For example, most state and local government jobs have had turnover rates of 20% or less for the last five years, but food service jobs have had a rate of around 75%.

So check how many job postings that company or location has when you apply. If they’re hiring many different jobs at the same time, you should ask why the positions are open in your interview. If they’re hiring because of retirement, an employee is moving, or growth in the business, that’s a good sign. If not, you should ask what makes someone a good fit for the position. This can give you an idea of what type of workers tend to stay in that job. Before deciding, think about whether you’re that kind of worker or if you would prefer to keep looking at other options.

Temporary Employment

Jobs don’t have to be long-term commitments. Temporary jobs, for example, have set end dates that are made clear before a worker is hired. This includes seasonal work (like lifeguarding) and contracts/assignments through staffing agencies to help companies with short-term projects. These jobs have their upsides, like…

  • Being Hired Faster Because temporary jobs have set time limits, the hiring process tends to move quickly. This can be great if you’re interested in starting a new job or career as soon as possible.
  • Enjoying Downtime It’s not always easy to take time off at a new job (contract positions in particular don’t offer much time off), but knowing how long a position will last means temporary workers can choose to take breaks between ending one contract and starting another.
  • Learning New Skills Working temporary jobs can offer many different challenges and chances to learn at work. While a long-term job may have the same responsibilities every month, temporary workers can move between positions, practicing new skills everywhere they go.

While the advantages can be very tempting, you should still be cautious. Temporary jobs are unlike permanent positions, and there are three key yellow flags you should look out for:

  • Advertised Hourly Pay In temporary jobs, you can’t look at your hourly pay the same way you would for a full-time position. First, you need to ask yourself if the hourly wage will be enough to last you between positions. If one temp job ends before you have another ready, you need to be prepared to live on your savings. You should also look closely at the hourly pay rates if you are working with a staffing or “talent” agency. With these organizations, part of the wage for your position goes to the agents you work with, which can often mean you’re being paid below the average for that position. It’s worth looking into how much a permanent hire makes in that position before deciding if the convenience of getting the job quickly is worth the lower income you accept by working through the agency.
  • “Temporary-to-Hire” Many staffing agencies advertise temporary-to-hire positions on the understanding that if you do well in the position, you could receive an offer for full-time employment, time off, and benefits. But the opportunity for Temporary-to-Hire isn’t the same as a guarantee. A 2022 Temp Worker Justice (TWJ) survey found that 72% of temp workers had never transitioned from their positions to permanent jobs. You’re going to want more information if you’re interested in pursuing a move to permanent employment, which tend to look better on a resume (many employers prefer if you stay in one position for a longer period of time). Ask how many of the agency’s workers have been hired through this process and if any of them have done so at the employer you will be working for.
  • Few Temp Worker Reviews Looking at reviews on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor can usually give you a basic idea of what workers think of an organization, and temporary workers have extra issues to look for in these reviews; unfortunately, claims of companies mistreating temp or contract workers are common. The TWJ survey mentioned above found that 24% of respondents reported that they had experienced some form of wage theft (such as employers withholding overtime pay or not paying for all hours worked), and 71% said that they experienced retaliation for raising workplace issues to supervisors. You’ll want to know about others’ experiences to avoid these situations. If you’re looking into a temporary position and not seeing many reviews from former temp employees, it’s a good idea to learn more. Check reviews of both the staffing agency and the company the agency is working with, and ask if the organization regularly hires temp workers; if not, it makes sense that there would be few reviews. If they frequently take on temp workers, you may be able to reach out to these workers on sites like LinkedIn.

Gig Jobs

Map, smartphone, and employment contract

Gig jobs like rideshare, food delivery, and free-lancing online are typical these days. For some, these jobs are a full-time commitment. But if you’re considering making gig work your main source of income, you’ll need to take a closer look at a couple of the ways these companies market themselves.

Estimated Earnings

Large gig companies often post “expected” wages for the position, but you can’t count on their estimates. One of the biggest problems with full-time gig work is the uncertainty of how much you’ll make. You can’t expect the same earnings every month, and you don’t want to fall short of your monthly expenses. Here are a few challenges in estimating your pay in the gig economy.

  • Inconsistent Demand Whenever you earn money one job at a time, your pay depends on how many people need your work at the time. Some weeks you might make great money; other weeks, you may have a hard time finding any work at all. You also have to worry about your availability. If the best time of the week to make money overlaps with family commitments, you’ll have hard choices to make.
  • Unexpected Interruptions Life throws all kinds of challenges at us. When you’re working gigs full-time, you’re facing those challenges alone. You can’t fall back on paid sick leave if you become too ill to work. If you rely on your car, computer, or phone and need expensive or difficult repair work, you won’t have any money coming in until it’s fixed. Even a few days without work can put a lot of stress on your monthly budget.
  • Location Earnings depend a lot on where you are. For delivery, rideshare, and personal shopping jobs, it’s much easier to make money in cities, where you can count on shorter, faster trips. If you’re far from the nearest city, you’ll have to choose between trying to find what’s available near you, lots of travel, or trying to move to a more expensive area.

Experiences with gig jobs are different for everyone and change all the time, so you can’t say for sure what a regular month will look like for you. And while companies may tell you how much you can expect to make, those numbers aren’t always trustworthy. To learn more, watch the video below.

“Helping” with Insurance

Some big-name companies in the gig economy advertise that they “help” employees access health care by advising workers on healthcare plans through sites like Stride, which try to suggest the best plan for you. But this help doesn’t pay any of the costs. When you drive, you’re an independent contractor, which means you’re fully responsible for your own health insurance (unless you receive coverage from a family member). That also means that researching how you’ll afford insurance is ultimately up to you.

Keep in mind that the cost of healthcare can vary widely depending on your income, how many people you’re covering, the regular treatment you need, and where you live. provides a tool to help estimate the monthly cost of self-purchased insurance plans, and services like Stride can help, but it’s important to keep in mind that making the choice and paying the cost are up to you.

You’ll need to be careful when planning a full-time gig budget and calculating your insurance costs, especially considering the unusual challenges of this type of work. To get a better idea of those challenges, explore the simulation of a week in the life of an Uber driver in California, which is linked below.

Short Answer Response

How well do you think you did in the simulation? What expenses or problems surprised you?

Yellow Flags Questions

Remember, a job search yellow flag isn’t always a problem; it’s a sign that you need more information before you make a decision. Knowing the right questions to ask is the best way to figure out if a job is right for you, so carefully read through the linked document below to review key questions you may need to ask during the hiring process.

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