Before You Accept a Job Offer

If you’re a recent grad looking for a job, you might be likely to jump at the offer of a job– any job! That’s partly because the necessity of getting a good job is drilled into all of us from a very early age. We’re raised to believe that the cycle looks like this: work hard in high school, get into a good college, do well in college, and get a good job. The definition of “a good job” might vary from person to person; for some, it’s a job that pays well. For others, it’s a career that brings you a great deal of meaning and satisfaction. 

No matter how we define it, one thing remains universal: everybody grows up believing that getting a good job is crucial to your success and happiness in life. Unfortunately, however, one crucial thing is often left out of this life narrative. We’re taught that it’s important to get a good job… but we’re rarely taught that there’s a difference between “a good job” and a job that’s good for you. Although this crucial truth is often left unspoken, it’s important to be aware of this difference early on– especially early in the hiring process!– so that you can identify the warning signs of a toxic workplace and avoid putting yourself in a bad situation. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the characteristics of a toxic workplace and learn why it’s important to find a job that’s good for you. 

What is a Toxic Workplace? 

Put simply, a toxic workplace is a workplace that makes employees feel devalued and unappreciated. For example, you might find a job that pays well and utilizes your skills and degree, and you might think, “Wow, that’s a good job!” But if that job regularly requires you to sacrifice your peace of mind, your mental health, and every waking moment of your time, it’s not really a good job. Instead, it’s a sign that you’re in a toxic workplace. On the surface, that might not seem like a big deal. 

If you’re like most people, you probably grew up hearing your plans complain about the working conditions that characterized most of their professional lives. Low pay, grueling hours, bosses worse than Michael on The Office… your parents’ portrayal of their own careers probably sounds like a horror story! And, for many people, those horror stories carry an undercurrent of grim determination– an attitude that was likely ingrained in them by their own parents’ “grin and bear it” culture. As a result, our parents often pass these inherited attitudes down to us, creating the perception that we should simply be grateful to have a job and not expect proper working conditions. 

But it’s important to break through this toxic mentality early on in our job search so we can identify the warning signs of a toxic workplace and learn to advocate for the workplace culture we deserve and need. 

Warning Signs of a Toxic Workplace 

The specifics of a toxic workplace can vary from company to company. There are a few core factors that every unhealthy work environment has in common. You’ll know you’re in a toxic workplace if your average workday is characterized by: 

  • An atmosphere of pervasive negativity 
  • Unkind gossip between employees
  • Consistent feelings of unhappiness
  • Managers who are unwilling to accept feedback or make changes in the workplace
  • Frequent fatigue and burnout in yourself and other employees
  • You feel voiceless, devalued, and unappreciated

These are just a few red flags of a toxic workplace. So, if you’re currently in a work environment that exhibits these signs, you might want to consider finding another job and seeking help for your mental health. You can also take this toxic workplace test from Mind Diagnostics to assess the toxicity of your work environment and learn what you can do about it. And if you’re a recent graduate or new hire about to start a new job, it may be beneficial to keep these red flags in mind when you’re interviewing with a company. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the company culture during the interview. Talk to other employees if you can.  Try to get an in-depth feel of what it’s like to work there. Ask about the company’s attitude toward conflict in the workplace and employee satisfaction. Read reviews online and learn what you can about the company’s treatment of its workers.

Do they value …

  • their employees?
  • progress, growth, and feedback?

Do past and present employees feel safe and valued?

Asking these questions will help you do your due diligence before you accept a job offer. Remember that you don’t have to settle for anything. Getting a “good job” is important, but it’s much more important to find a job that’s good for you and that doesn’t have a negative impact on your mental health!