A reader writes:
I’m new to the working world. While some jobs have inherent drawbacks (long hours, high stress, etc.), what actions or requirements are generally unacceptable from management? In short, what are your “deal-breakers”?
Different people have different deal-breakers. Some people won’t work for a manager who yells, while other people aren’t that bothered by it. Some people won’t work for a micromanager, while others roll their eyes and get on with the work. Some people won’t work for a company that doesn’t provide health insurance, while others suck it up and deal. Some people won’t work for a company that bounces paychecks — something that you might think would be an obvious deal-breaker for everyone — but some people will. And so forth. It just varies.
Moreover, what you will and won’t accept usually changes during different periods of your life. When you have plenty of options (whether because of your excellent reputation and in-demand skills, or your finances, or whatever), you might take a harder line on deal-breakers than when you don’t have as many options. It’s easy to say you’d never work for a company that breaks the law, for instance, but it’s a lot harder to say that when you don’t see other immediate options to pay your mortgage next month.
It’s also really easy to tell other people what their deal-breakers should be, but when you’re not the one paying their bills, it doesn’t really matter.
That said, I’d suggest the following as deal-breakers to people who have at least decent options:
- a pattern of not being paid when you’re supposed to be paid
- managers who break clear and specific promises without acknowledging that it’s a really big deal to do so (I added in that caveat because there are times when you might be promised, for example, a raise and then the company needs to freeze salaries … but your manager should show that they take the broken promise seriously)
- managers who won’t address serious problems (such as not taking on performance problems within your department)
- managers who regularly make you feel awful (varies by person, but it could include yelling, overly personal criticism, etc.)
- work environments where you feel unsafe
There are all kinds of other things that could go on this list too — lack of feedback, lack of monetary rewards, treating everything like an emergency, overall incompetence, etc. — but then we’re getting into areas where some people will care a lot and others won’t be as bothered.
What else belongs on the list of things that should be deal-breakers for anyone with options, stuff that doesn’t fall in the “eh, plenty of people don’t get as bothered by that” category?