Signs you should not take that programming job

From the job description to the final offer, here’s how to avoid getting stuck in a dead-end coding gig

A new programming gig can be a great path forward—or a dead end you didn’t see coming. Not everyone caught in a heads-down job at a coding sweatshop knows that’s what they were in for when they agreed to the job. So, if you’re one of the 75 percent of developers open to new job opportunities, how can you tell if a new development gig is a good fit before you sign on? Or, more to the point, what’s the best way to avoid a disastrous new coding job?

To weigh these questions, multiple factors come into play: job satisfaction, including regular hours and the amount of crunch time worked; salary and benefits; satisfaction with the product; and work-life balance. We sought expert opinion and hard-fought wisdom from tech pros who’ve made their way to leadership and software engineering in various phases of their careers.

What we found is, yes, there are in fact red flags in these areas—and positive signs to look for—as you investigate a new job, from the listing to the interview to negotiating your salary.

Here’s how to avoid a heads-down gig and stagnation while others move on—and up.

What to watch for in the job listing

Consider this scenario: You’ve done the smart thing and signed up for job alerts to get a sense of the market and what positions are most in demand before you need a new job. You get a tempting job alert that mentions a series of requirements, desirable skills, and benefits, and you want to read between the lines. Can you get a sense of the work environment just from the job post?

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