Watch for these 3 red flags when applying to graphic design jobs

David Dinh
Nov 27, 2023

You’re looking for a job. As you sift through job board after job board it all starts to blur together, and you can barely remember what you’ve applied for, let alone what the company offers you as an employee.

In a competitive market, you may not feel like you have a choice when searching for a job, but to avoid being taken advantage of or landing in a position that’s bound to burn you out, you owe it to yourself to be a little picky. Watch out for these red flags.

A lack of information

A commonality among companies that often don’t see the value of what designers bring to the table or don’t understand how design integrates into their process is a bare-bones job posting. There’s no information about the company, their goals, or the reason why they’re looking for a designer. These positions will often lack a sense of company culture that would help to refuel your creativity. You’ll likely find yourself just making "good-looking" work without any overarching purpose or goal.

Job postings that don’t explicitly list information about your salary are common as well. Talking about money is uncomfortable for a lot of people, and some employers will take advantage of that fact. When interviewing for a position that doesn’t list a salary, take the time to research what other professionals with the same job title in the industry/area are making to ensure you’re being paid what you’re worth. If you have friends in your network who have the position you’re applying for, don’t be afraid to reach out to get a second opinion.

Doing the job of multiple people

Do you know the entire Adobe Creative Suite? What about reading and writing HTML and CSS? Understand how to film and edit videos for social media? How’s your knowledge of 2D and 3D animation? Can you manage clients and yourself while juggling all of the above? Countless companies are looking for a “unicorn” to hide the fact that they don’t want to hire more than one person to handle their marketing and design communications. There’s some potential here if you’re looking to broaden your skill set, but more often than not you’ll find that because you’re doing so many different things, your work-life balance and/or quality of work will suffer.

If you’re considering branching out into a different area of design or marketing, positions like these can be valuable because they force you to quickly learn on the job. Your ability to problem-solve will be put to the test more than your creative skills, but if you’re up for a challenge, this may be a green flag.

This is not a perk

There are perks when you’re employed. Typically, good pay, a benefits package, paid time off, and a work-from-home or hybrid workplace are standard perks of employment. Some companies may offer additional perks like educational funds, mentorship opportunities, volunteer days, or RRSP matching. These things are more uncommon, but when you have access to them, they’re definitely a welcomed bonus.

Other companies will have “fun” perks that hold a subjective value. Things like mandatory after-work socializing, free in-office food and drink, or the coveted ping pong table all have their upsides, but try not to get sold on the bells and whistles. For some people, these are great perks, but for others, you’d rather have higher wages or more time off. Take into consideration how often you'll use the extra perks, and make sure you're prioritizing things that help you thrive in and outside of the workplace.


Knowing that you won’t always be able to pick and choose where you want to work, it’s important to understand how the quality of a job posting can give you insight into what working at a company may look like. Keep an eye out for vague and non-transparent descriptions, roles that are overloaded with responsibilities, and perks that don't enable long-term growth. If you’re invested in building a career in design, familiarizing yourself with these red flags will help you avoid landing in roles that don’t provide you with anything more than a paycheck.

Read More Entries

Have a project? Start the creative process.

Book A Call