Running a business full-time has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. It has offered me substantially more freedom and control of my life than any other job has. However, I did consider reentering the workforce when the COVID pandemic started because I was unsure if my business would survive. When I was interviewing with companies, I observed several red flags that made me reconsider those businesses.
Unlimited Paid Time Off
A new trend in tech companies is unlimited paid time off. This sounds like a benefit, but I’m incredibly skeptical. Do you really believe you will be able to take unlimited time off? I doubt it. Furthermore, since you have not actually ‘earned’ any paid time off, you can likely expect management to complain about the vacation you are taking. Looking for that promotion? Jane in the adjacent cubicle didn’t take as much time off this year. Leaving your job? Don’t expect to get that nice bonus payout for your accrued vacation since you don’t have any. Frankly, I am convinced that unlimited PTO is just a scheme to have you take fewer days off, not more.
Concerns About Side Business
When I considered reentering the workforce, I was questioned about how long it would be until I closed down my business. While I had run my company as a side gig for years, interviewers didn’t want me to do that again. Why? Unless you intend to have me work 60+ hour weeks, what does it matter if I have a side business that does not compete with you? Conversely, I did have one individual actually say that my side business was a plus because it suggested that I would be learning more and growing professionally even outside of work hours.
Burdensome Legal Contracts
During my career, I have seen too many burdensome legal contracts. In one instance, a company wanted me to work as a subcontractor for them. Yet, they insisted that I sign both a non-compete agreement and an intellectual property agreement giving them ownership of everything I did. However, the business ignored the fact that I was operating in the same space they were and that signing a broad non-complete agreement would have ended my business. Furthermore, their intellectual property agreement gave them rights to all work I did – not just what I was doing for them. Thus, if work I performed for another company was patented, this company would have been able to claim ownership. Always be careful of the exact wording of contracts, particularly if you run a side business.
On one job, I saw too many red flags and opted out of continuing the interview process. Then, the recruiter started contacting me with high-pressure techniques to continue. She told me that the company’s stock options would be ‘life changing.’ The reality is, I truly doubt that the stocks they would have given me would have changed my life. Furthermore, I recognize that the recruiter gets paid to find candidates. Her high-pressure tactics were really just a way to get her a sizable commission if I were to take the job.
When you look for a job, never forget that the employer’s objective is to make money from your work. As such, they have a vested interest in minimizing your pay and benefits while maximizing the work that you do. Too many Americans already work excessive hours, and a disturbing number of businesses seem to encourage such behavior. If you are looking to change jobs, consider what you see in the interview process as well as what you can research online about the company before you make the decision and always keep your eyes open for red flags. Remember – you should work to live, not live to work. Make sure the company you work for has a similar attitude!