is it a bad sign if a company has lots of job vacancies?

A reader writes:

I live in the southeast but really love the Pacific northwest, so I keep my eyes peeled for job opportunities in that area. Over time, I’ve noticed many job postings for this one particular company. Recently, they’ve listed a position that would be a great opportunity for me and for which I think I would be a good fit. The pay is great too.

However, I’m hesitant to apply because I have seen so many postings for this company, and it’s an industry with traditionally low turnover. It’s a large company, but it still seems to be hiring at an above-average rate. Is that a red flag? I have a good job now, and I’m hesitant to uproot my whole life for what might be a bad situation. If I do apply and secure an interview, are there questions that I could ask to assess the culture and environment, as well as the reason for so much hiring?

I’d say it’s a yellow flag with the potential to turn red. It’s definitely something you should ask about.

It’s possible that you’re seeing a lot of job postings from them because they’re growing and adding positions. If they’re hiring for new slots, that’s different than if they can’t keep people in the slots they already have.

It’s also possible that they have some hard-to-fill positions and so they keep ads for those up nearly all the time. For example, I worked with an organization that was steadily growing and had some roles that were very hard to fill (just a tricky combination of skills that were hard to find in one person but which were essential to the nature of the work) and so we advertised those jobs multiple times a year, figuring that if we found someone good, we’d snatch them up even though it wasn’t a “must hire by X date” situation. (We actually learned over time to explain that right up-front in the job postings because we didn’t want to raise the sorts of concerns you’re having.)

But it’s also possible that they’re advertising all the time because no one stays very long, because there’s something wrong with the culture or the manager or the job itself, or because the job is different than advertised, or because they’re too quick to fire, or who knows what.

You can ask about it in an interview in a few ways. You can just ask what the turnover has been like in the role and the team in general, and how long the last few people stayed. (I like adding that last part because it makes them get specific.) Or you can say directly, “I’ve seen a lot of job postings from you over the past year and I wonder if that’s due to turnover, growth, or something else?”

Also, because you should never rely 100% on what a company tells you about itself (or what the manager you’re interviewing with tells you about themselves), you should check with other sources too. Use your network to try to find connections to people who have worked there, and see if you can get in touch with them to ask about what it’s really like to work there.

{ 87 comments… read them below }

  1. Hannah L*

    I work for a company in the PNW that has recently posted lots of job ads (would be hilarious if it was somehow the same one).

    Part of it is what Allison mentioned, we’ve been growing and getting more and more projects so we’re adding on more engineers and managers to our Ops department. There’s one position that we’ve had trouble keeping filled, but it’s just been an unfortunate series of bad fits. Most people have been there for a long time.

    1. Siege*

      Yeah, we made a bad hire at the start of the year. That person finally got fired, but another person quit and a second is looking likely to go (good riddance to that one; if they go we’ll be drama-free) so we’re actually hiring/likely to hire a quarter of our positions just from that person alone. And one other person went back to school, while another took a job with a significant pay increase. So it’s a combo of natural movement and distortion.

      1. Hannah L*

        Same. One position, we’ve had two people in since I’ve been here (a year), but the person before that had been in it for several years. We’re restructuring our dept. a little in terms of duties which I think will help, but it was mostly that those 2 people couldn’t do the job well (AP, invoices were not being paid on time or just being forgotten about).

    2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

      As a counterpoint, I work for a PNW company with normally low turnover and we’re currently hiring a ton of people because we’re hemorrhaging workers and the workplace is incredibly dysfunctional. Of you asked, I’m sure they’d tell you they recently expanded hours and restructured and avoid mentioning the 40% turnover. Could be lots of things.

    3. King Friday XIII*

      My PNW company has lots of job ads because we’ve been growing since before the pandemic and people keep getting promoted out of my department (and internally in general), which is great for them but generates a lot more job postings, especially when there’s a cascade of promotions that lead to job postings.

  2. Lacey*

    Definitely try to find people who have worked at the company to understand those postings. At a previous job I had been told in the interview that I only had one predecessor and she left for personal reasons.

    Turns out there were 3 and they all quit because my grandboss was a micro-manager who liked to play mind-games with everyone below her.

    Around the same time I interviewed at another place that told me basically no one ever left because they were so great to work for. I didn’t get the job, but I found out later that they’re an absolute nightmare to work for and that was supported by the fact that they put up new listings for the same jobs over and over again during the next 3 years.

    1. ferrina*

      Agree. At OldJob, a whole group of us left at once. We were the middle tier who had been leading all the projects and essentially carrying the company (without pay raises, title changes, and any resources for our projects had to be fought for tooth and nail– the leadership was busy giving resources to the two guys who had “potential” yet never managed to produce results. Oh, and the ones getting results but no resources? Women-led teams.)

      Anyways….after I left, the rest of the department followed (I had been the de facto lead- the person who was supposed to be leading would disappear for weeks on end, and when she resurfaced, the thing she had been “working on” was always work that I had done). My role and responsibilities magically went from a middle management position to a VP position (who was now managing the inept lead, since I wasn’t doing it under the table anymore). Every other staff member had to be replaced.

      They definitely didn’t give the real reason for all the openings. It was a “growth time” and they were “excited about the future”. I’ve since heard that the owner is getting desperate to sell the company and trying to do things that are almost definitely illegal. He has grandiose impractical/illegal ideas, then tells mid-level staff to figure out how to do it and to enact it in an unreasonable time frame. But he does it all with a smile (start-up energy), so it takes new staff a while to catch on.

  3. CharlieBrown*

    Are there other ways you can research the company? Is their stock tanking? It may be rats fleeing a sinking ship. Or is their stock rising? Have they been in the news for winning new contracts or getting new products out there? That might tell you something.

    I do tend to distrust some online reviews that are anonymous (Glassdoor) because I suspect some companies put their own very fake reviews to boost their image. I always take these with a grain of salt.

    1. Hello Dahlia*

      Also, Glassdoor is like a Yelp review. People like to complain more than they like giving compliments. I rarely review anything unless it’s stellar or really bad.

      1. Dawn*

        True, but if you see a significant number of complaints that’s usually a good indicator that something is up, even if it’s just that they’re bad at hiring – which is still useful data to have. Even if that’s all that it is, you may not want to work somewhere that consistently hires people who are a bad fit with the job.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes! I used Glassdoor when applying for Current Job. The reviews all complained about a Certain Thing. In my interview with the hiring manager, I asked about Certain Thing. There was a long pause, then they told me that yes, it was a historic issue, and yes, echoes of it still existed in the company, but the new CEO who had been there a year was actively trying to fix Certain Thing and here’s what he had done…. I was impressed with their honestly, and it helped me know what I was walking into.

          1. KatEnigma*

            And sometimes the Certain Thing being complained about, I actually consider a plus. One person’s rigid is another person’s “expected to follow clearly laid out rules”

            It’s like when reading campground reviews. Personally, I have never been thrown out of a campground for merely talking quietly around my fire as hundreds have sworn I would be if I camped at certain campgrounds. But I appreciate the complainers letting me know I won’t have to listen to a rager in the next site at 3am.

            You have to read and decipher the content, not just go by the stars or whatever.

        2. Mizzmarymack*

          I used Glassdoor when researching day and residential specialty schools for kids with autism. The comments are almost all complaints, and very similar between schools (low pay: it’s all the rare set b.y the state, kids are really hard to work with, they randomly switch you between day and night shifts, not enough training, etc)

          Most nearby residential schools have a 35-40% rate of “would recommend a friend work here.”

          Most day schools fare better with a 60-70% recommendation rate. One of the ones widely praised by our doctors, lawyer, and home therapists has an 85%.

          However there were two day schools at sub-40%. I don’t know why, but when I asked them for more information about their program, they said they didn’t answer questions without a referral packet from the local distric… guess which schools we didn’t grant permission to refer to!

          So I agree … the complaints in any industry are going to be pretty standard, but if the top level metrics are a huge mismatch I’d suggest digging deeper.

      2. Koalafied*

        The other thing to look out for on Glassdoor with larger companies is the location and role of the person leaving the review. At a 15-person office/firm/shop, there’s more of a single culture. Even if some roles are worse than others, all the roles are fairly visible to each other and the marketing person is fairly aware of what the receptionist puts up with, the cashiers know what the assistant managers put up with, etc.

        Now take a company at the extreme other end like a hypothetical You’re going to probably see reviews posted by employees in their overseas call center, which they’ve contracted with to avoid US labor laws and minimum wages. You’ll see reviews posted by floor staff at their retail outlets who make minimum wage dealing with angry members of the public and are treated as basically disposable; reviews from their warehouse workers who might have a lot to say about the safety culture or lack thereof or who commonly have to work overnight and back to back shifts during crunch times; reviews from the abused 1099 contractors who do last-mile delivery; reviews from the highly paid website engineers working at the trendy SF Bay office; reviews from summer interns who will complain they don’t keep enough interns on as regular employees at the end of the internship; and reviews from the marketing team who, because they work in the same corporate headquarters office as the big bosses, are subject to a much more formal dress code or have to deal with the on-site presence of the Chief Jackassery Officer who routinely makes people in that office cry but whom nobody outside of that office ever has to interact with.

        Ideally you want to see that the company treats all of its employees well no matter what. But ultimately if you need a job you might need to settle for a company that will treat YOU and your immediate team well, and you decide you can’t turn down a corporate finance job just because the retail workers are underpaid or the call center staff aren’t allowed discretion to take bathroom breaks when they need them.

        Sometimes when I’ve looked at reviews for companies like that I’ll find that so many of them are either anonymous or just from “former employee”, and so many of the rest are from locations or departments that probably have little in common with the role in looking at, that there ends up not being much left to go on.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Related to researching the company, some industries and their best-known companies are notorious for boom/bust cycles of layoffs and mass hiring. Dependence on contracts, new business, and specific projects are big drivers of staffing needs. Mass hiring isn’t necessarily a red flag in this situation, but the fact that layoffs are a regular occurrence is something to be aware of. Despite that, at least at my former very large employer, there are a lot of long-time employees and generally minimal turnover for other reasons.

      It could also be driven by newly recognized needs in specific fields. My field has recently been experiencing *far* more job openings at all levels than I’ve ever seen in 25 years, across multiple industries and it’s evident in postings locally, nationally, and globally.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        This is very true. I used to work in the automotive industry for several years, and it was boom/bust cycles.

        I am very glad to no longer work in the automotive industry.

  4. cactus lady*

    I would argue that if they’re all new positions because they’re experiencing a lot of growth, that can also be a yellow flag with the potential to turn red. If that’s what’s going on, I would ask things like:

    -Can you tell me about the current growth period and how it is being managed?
    -How do you see this role evolving as the company grows?
    -Can you tell me how the company manages change?
    -What has been your experience of the company growth?

    I have worked places where there has been mindless expansion with no strategy, and it’s a nightmare. You want to make sure they have some sort of plan for how all these new roles are going to work and see the big picture of how the company will function as it gets bigger.

    1. Eater of Hotdish*

      SO MUCH THIS. I was promoted into HR to help deal with hiring/onboarding/training people as our company prepared to expand into a second location. Even though the expansion had been planned, heralded, and hyped for years at this point, there were things nobody had bargained on. Important things, like “how did you not think about this?” things. The institutional culture had been about being small and scrappy for the place’s entire existence. It was an integral part of their identity; they set up as an alternative to the big-box options. Which meant nobody had the bandwidth in the midst of moving, setting up, training, and dealing with lower-than-expected sales at the new location to deal with the ramifications of suddenly not being a small, scrappy business anymore. More to the point, it stopped being a place where everyone could count on everyone else putting up with poor conditions for the sake of the Mission.

    2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Yes!! Not to mention all the tech companies doing layoffs are using the using the rationale that they overhired out of optimism, so depending on recessionary pressure, it could be a risky move (especially if it comes with a cross-country move, to an expensive place!). These are great questions for sussing out what’s happening in the company.

  5. Margali*

    Alison, if you have time to expand on this: “… we advertised those jobs multiple times a year, figuring that if we found someone good, we’d snatch them up even though it wasn’t a “must hire by X date” situation. (We actually learned over time to explain that right up-front in the job postings because we didn’t want to raise the sorts of concerns you’re having.)”, I’d love to get some advice on how you wrote about that in the advertisement. We’re in a similar “constantly recruiting” situation for our technicians.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Not Alison but I also recruit for technicians in some remote areas and have ads posted year round I always included a line in the first couple sentences of the ad something along the lines of, “Due to continued growth” and when I did phone screens with applicants I would always volunteer what I meant by that line in the ad. By volunteering the information on my end it seemed to go over much better with potential applicants versus looking like we were hiding something/had super high turnover.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Not Allison, but we have a few jobs like that. I’m sure it is unsurprising that finding a Dzongkha (a Bhutanese language) speaking registered dietician is a challenge and if we can find more than one we will make a position for the second. We have at the top of the listing in big cap letters “THIS OPENING IS CONTINUOUS WITH NO END DATE. MULTIPLE POSITIONS AVAILABLE”

    3. Generic Name*

      As another data point, we hire on average about 1 new technician per year. Sometimes it’s to replace someone who resigned, sometimes it reflects growth (and my company has grown exponentially in the 10 or so years I’ve been here). Especially if it’s an entry level role, I don’t think it’s an automatic red flag if a company is always hiring for a particular role.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’ve done something similar. I added lines like, “This job position will never close. We are always looking for top tech talent interested in our mission to….”

      In my case, it happened with certain IT roles that were really hard to fill because of the persistent tech talent shortages in our community. We always wanted to leave the door open for well qualified applicants to apply.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it was something at the top like “We’re growing! We’re always interested in talking with talented managers who can teach that skill to others.” (These were management coach and trainer jobs. You had to be a fantastic manager — hard enough to find on its own! — with relatively senior/deep management experience, plus have the right skills to coach or train in an engaging way, plus be philosophically aligned with the org on what good management looked like, plus be fluent in DEI issues. Super hard to find the right people, although we did build a really good group of them over time.)

  6. Catherding Specialist*

    In the past, I’ve looked at previous employees on LinkedIn and looked to see whether employees have left for similar job titles or higher or lower. I also looked to see if there were gaps between leaving that company and going to the next one.

    In the company I work at now, Glassdoor had some bad reviews, but looking at LinkedIn data, it was obvious that it was one department that had high turnover for similar or lower job titles and/or had gaps like they’d been let go or left without something else lined up. After starting, it became clear that yes, the department leader had some issues that were causing people to leave with nothing lined up.

  7. cardigarden*

    As a hiring manager, information I volunteered right off the bat in the phone screen stage was “I’m sure you’ve noticed quite a few open positions here at Teapot Factory. We had a few open positions leading up to covid, then we had a hiring freeze followed by a very generous early retirement package that quite a few people took. The hiring freeze is now lifted and we’re finally able to fill 3 years worth of open positions.” I found it helpful to acknowledge the logical conclusion of flags being present, which takes the pressure of asking off the candidate.

    1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      I was just going to raise that possibility! My organization is in a similar spot; we had a hiring freeze during much of the pandemic, and now due to relatively normal levels of attrition/turnover during that two year period, we have a ton of positions to fill all at once.

  8. Cat herder*

    In the past, I’ve looked at previous employees on LinkedIn and looked to see whether employees have left for similar job titles or higher or lower. I also looked to see if there were gaps between leaving that company and going to the next one.

    In the company I work at now, Glassdoor had some bad reviews, but looking at LinkedIn data, it was obvious that it was one department that had high turnover for similar or lower job titles and/or had gaps like they’d been let go or left without something else lined up. After starting, it became clear that yes, the department leader had some issues that were causing people to leave with nothing lined up.

    1. shruggie*

      Same! LinkedIn is pretty handy for this, because you can usually find people with the same or similar job titles, and piece together SOME information. Depending on what you learn you might still need input from an interview or insider, but you can often glean quite a bit.

  9. irene adler*

    Longshot: might do a search on LinkedIn and select [company] as the Past Company. Then see how long folks’ tenure was at [company]. That’s a clue if no one stays very long.

    (and maybe try to reach out to them and ask about [company])

  10. Avoiding hustle culture*

    I would also double check and see if they’re duplicate ads for different locations. I’ve seen MS do that and repeatedly post the same position for multiple different locations (as individual ads) in the PNW instead of group it as one ad with the potential to work in many cities.

    If the company is public, it doesn’t hurt to find their last earnings call. There may be some clues about their financial and growth plans.

    1. ferrina*

      It could also be that a recruiting company is reposting the ad, as well as the hiring company. I accidentally applied to the same job twice because it had been posted under two slightly different names (one was posted by a corporate recruiter)

  11. T.*

    I’ve posted a ton of jobs bc my co has never had any turnover and in the last 24 months and absurd number have hit retirement age and decided it was time to be with their family instead of work. Add that to normal attrition and some hard to fill positions and you would think we have a turnover issue.

      1. De Minimis*

        That has been a huge issue at my current job. Little to no succession training was done and the knowledge of entire processes has been lost and have taken a couple of years to reconstruct.

        1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

          mine has dealt with this by deciding that we no longer need institutional knowledge and everything will be done by new hires learning as they go. it’s worked about as well as you’d expect.

      2. linger*

        Yes — though that can happen even without a large turnover, if a few key staff in the same specialty all go around the same time. My own org has just been through that. Mostly long-tenured staff, with turnover averaging 1 a year out of about 25 fulltimers; but within that, one highly-necessary specialist area went from 4 members down to 1 within two years, through a combination of factors (age-mandated retirements, hiring freeze, national responses to Covid essentially blocking hires from overseas while drawing existing members back home … and TBH, management taking the remaining members for granted and so not making replacement a high enough priority, ignoring warnings that the workload was unsustainable). One replacement was finally hired in just as the last survivor left, but further hiring will remain slow, and all relevant institutional knowledge has left the country, so it remains to be seen if a viable team can be rebuilt at this stage.

  12. glitter writer*

    It’s worth doing research on for sure, but early-growth companies sometimes hire a LOT of people all at once. We grew by something like 600% in less than two years.

  13. C-Dub*

    I agree with Alison here. It is a yellow flag, but I wouldn’t assume it is a red flag until you find out more. If you land an interview, you can ask about it, and also ask about the company culture.

    But do your research as well because as Alison said, you can’t completely rely on what the employer tells you. Glassdoor and Indeed are good starting points.

  14. Doctors Whom*

    Is it also possible that positions are being taken down and refreshed?

    If I don’t find a suitable candidate within a reasonable timeframe, I pull the PD down and get some new eyes on it. I might tweak it a bit, or I might update it ever so slightly because we have made different decisions about staffing projects in the interim. Then I repost it, and it will show up as a new posting. So maybe it looks to you on the outside like I filled a Teapot Coordinator job because I took the PD down last week – when in reality I just closed out the PD with no hire, realigned the projects, and posted a different ad, still to fill my single Teapot Coordinator position.

    Or that there are multiple positions posted for different “levels” of a job? Like I really want a Senior Teapot Painter, but Teapot Painting is a competitive hiring environment so I might post a companion PD for a Regular Teapot Painter and hope to grow them into the Senior Teapot Painter. We plan for alternate scenarios like that when we hire, and ALWAYS post at two different levels. (We do this because if I find, say, a more junior candidate who has the potential I need, I can’t move forward to an offer without having an existing approved PD in our system to map the hire to. Opening that position requires some internal approvals that I can’t get instantaneously.)

  15. Generic Name*

    If you are in any STEM-related field, I would say it’s not necessarily a bad sign. My company of 80 people has about 10 job postings open now. Roles are very difficult to fill, and we’ve had a ton of turnover lately (more than is typical). Every other company in my industry is experiencing the same situation.

  16. 1-800-BrownCow*

    This is hard because there can be so many reasons. A few reasons I’ve experienced:

    Years ago, I noticed something similar with a company I had been eyeing up. Turns out someone I knew used to work at the company and they shared plenty of reasons to stay away, including their reason for quitting due to extreme lack of safety. Turn-over at the company was really high, so I stayed away.

    A previous career job of mine, the company was bought out and after a year, the new management “cleaned house”, which in some ways was needed. Many job opportunities were open after that.

    My current employer, several years ago top management started working through a complete culture change and a good number of employees didn’t want to change, so they left on their own accord. It actually went well and the culture and morale improved a lot, although took some time. Having top management leading the change, and living it through example, definitely made a difference.

    My last example is with coming out of the pandemic. We are an essential business and stayed open during the pandemic. Our business slowed, but we managed to not lay off any employees during that time. Some did leave for various reasons, but over the past year or so, our business has really started to grow and expand. Our customers from prior to the pandemic have been increasing their business, which has increased ours and we added a few new customers to our portfolio throughout the pandemic and we’ve acquired a lot of new business from them. During the past year, we’ve gone from ~95 employees to ~160 and are still looking to add another 20-30 in the next 6 months and will be expanding our facility soon, as well.

    I agree with Alison and others. Try researching and asking questions during an interview to hopefully give you a good idea of why all the job openings!

    And good luck! I hope you find your dream job.

  17. Stonks*

    If you go to the company’s page on LinkedIn, even if you don’t have Premium, it will usually show you a “average employee tenure” in years which is very useful.

    And you always get it if you have LinkedIn Premium, along with recent senior hires, the departments that are growing and shrinking, overall headcount trends, and a bunch more useful data. P

    robably not worth it to buy it at this stage, but if you get deep in the interview process I’d absolutely spend the $30 for a month of LinkedIn Premium before you uproot your life and move across the country. Also, sites like Glassdoor, Indeed Reviews, Teamblind, and others can be super useful but somewhat unreliable. However, if you see a bunch of review saying the same things… that’s probably a pretty good signal.

    Also, just reaching out to current employees of that org that you might have some sort of mutual connection with or even share an alma mater can be helpful. They’ll usually hop on a 5 minute call and give you honest answers.

  18. Fuzzyfuzz*

    My current company has as a ton of positions open, but most people here genuinely love the institution and the culture. And, I don’t think I’m off base here because new staff members talk about how amazing employee relationships/the general culture is, and former employees boomerang back all the time. The high number of positions is mostly due to people moving on after sticking through the pandemic–COVID really hit our sector hard–and some new growth. On the other hand, a company that I went to briefly (say…boomerang) was a total snake pit and there is almost no turnover. That one I cannot really figure out…

  19. TimeTravlR*

    I once avoided applying with a local company because I felt like they were always hiring! Definitely a red or yellow flag, right? Eventually the CFO approached me and asked me to apply for an open position. I did and that’s when I found out they were growing like crazy, and the average tenure for an employee there was 18 YEARS!
    It turned out to be one of the best jobs I ever had, and I still think of them fondly. (We moved or I would have stayed with them until retirement.)
    Dig into the why before you make assumptions.

    1. The OTHER other*

      Came here to say this. Noticing lots of postings is good info to have, but there could be either very good or very bad reasons behind it, you definitely need to dig to find out why rather than make an assumption.

      I would try to network to get some intel, but if I got an interview I would definitely dig into this topic. With the hiring manager, take note of tone when you ask about it–are they defensive? Does the story make sense?

      Try to see if you can talk to someone other than the hiring manager while you’re there, preferably someone in the role or whom you’d be working with. Does what they have to say match with the manager’s explanation?

      I wish this were considered a standard part of any interview process (at some places I’ve worked, it was), I think SO many problems could be avoided this way; how many times have we read letters about how the job is completely different than described, or the manager is a control freak, or this place never gives raises, or oh by the way when this company says “work/life balance” they mean they expect you to work 12 hours a day, every day.

  20. Bookworm*

    For me it’s usually a sign of a red flag (I left a job because they *wouldn’t* hire for some weird reason and then went on a hiring spree because of so much turnover). It looks like things have stabilized for now, meaning it was a cyclical issue (also not unusual for my field) but this was definitely an experience where I would have warned off anyone. I recently found out someone who worked there before my time described some very similar turnover issues and problems in general that I experienced. Vindicating, but ultimately depressing because it told me that not only was this not new for me, but it’s an ongoing problem that management refuses to even acknowledge.

    Good luck!!

  21. Goldenrod*

    At my last job, the person in the role before me only lasted 6 months – she walked out one day without saying anything to anyone and ghosted the place! The assistant before that lasted a year….and it was the kind of plum position that people tend to keep through retirement, or at least a very long time.

    I knew this was a major red flag. When I asked the chief of staff why the previous person had left so suddenly, she confided in me that it was because she had drug problems. Well, maybe…but that sure wasn’t the whole story!

    I lasted 3 years which I think was some kind of record.

    I think you can probably figure it out from the interview. I took the job and ignored the red flags – which I don’t regret, because for various reasons, I really needed the job. But I think once you meet the people, you will be able to tell if the culture is toxic. One thing about toxic workplaces – they tend to not be that subtle!

  22. Fluffy Fish*

    A quick thought on turn-over – it’s not always a sign of a bad employer/manger.

    Certain jobs are HARD. Some people thrive in those positions and some people realize its just not for them. We have people who have been there for 20+ years and others who don’t make it through training.

    I’m thinking specifically about our 911 dispatcher jobs but there’s lots of fields/positions that have these demanding jobs.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I suspect a lot of my particular unit’s constant vacancies is that it’s public service and that is just hard and exhausting. I note we’re technically at a full house again but how long will that last…?

  23. A Pound of Obscure*

    Hiring is really difficult now. Alison’s response didn’t seem to account for the possibility that employers just aren’t finding enough qualified candidates. This is certainly true where I work, which is also near but not actually in the Pacific Northwest. We currently have three vacant positions (out of 21) whereas pre-pandemic we rarely had a vacancy. In the past we might receive applications from five or ten qualified candidates, and now we’re having trouble finding even one candidate we feel could perform the job at the (government) salaries we can pay.

    1. De Minimis*

      I do live in the PNW, also work in government, and we have had a really tough time filling positions here [and we actually pay pretty well for our location] I think this may be really typical for employers in this region.

    2. bookworm*

      Was coming to the comment section to mention government as another special case. Even though people tend to stay in government jobs a looooong time, we are in the midst of a bunch of retirements and are in constant need of people to keep up with attrition. It also takes us forever to hire for a position, but that’s another matter…

  24. Rutherford B. Crazy*

    Please don’t automatically assume it’s a red flag or something bad, but definitely note it as something to address in an interview and get more details on!

    I’m a hiring manager in the PNW with multiple listings that have been up a while, and we’re a growing company with really low turnover and most people stay here for 5+ years. In our case we had a hiring freeze during the pandemic that has only recently opened back up so we’re now trying to fill a lot of positions. We also have difficult to fill technical positions where it takes time to find qualified candidates. And because it’s a job seeker’s market right now it’s hard to fill positions of all levels because so many applicants end up taking other opportunities at the final stages of hiring which can put us back at square one for hiring after several weeks.

    Definitely ask companies about why they have so many openings and why they’re up for so long and try to gauge if they’re being honest with you, but I just wanted to say that it isn’t always for some nefarious reason!

  25. Just here for the cats*

    Yes it could mean that they treat their employees like kleenex. But it could also be that that they are growing. I would say if the ads for jobs are all entry level they may just be a business that is always hiring for those roles because people move onto other places within the company quickly.

    I think go for it but treat it with caution. do your research, look at reviews online and see if you have any connections to the place (past or current employees) who could give you insight. I’ve worked jobs where they were always hiring because it was a call center in a college job. People would come and go because their schedules didn’t fit.

  26. AnonaLlama*

    Also consider the size of the organization- over 5000 or so employees and there will always be openings somewhere as people move, retire, get promoted, etc.

    All of the organizations I’ve encountered of this size or greater always have a couple hundred openings, full time recruiting department, etc.

  27. Decidedly Me*

    We have a lot of job openings in different departments and also multiple seats to fill in several of those positions due to growth. In some cases, the growth is fast enough that it doesn’t make sense to take the post down as we’ll just be reopening the role in a few weeks (we communicate timelines with applicants in these cases). There are backfills for sure, some due to people leaving and some due to promotions. We’re at a place where we’ve had people for many years, so they’ve found it time for their next role, rather than it being short terms stays.

    So, definitely ask and do your research – but don’t assume it’s a bad sign.

  28. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    If the positions are all spread out across the org — admins, subject matter experts, HR, sales, IT, marketing, upper management, entry level, etc — I don’t think it’s a red flag. A hiring freeze that’s been lifted, normal turn over, retirements, promotions, etc. could account for a lot of jobs being available all at once. But if all of the jobs are for one particular department or job classification, that would be a red flag; e.g. if all of HR or IT is hiring, something went down. If they need a dozen administrative assistants or most of their VP positions are vacant, it’s definitely a flag.

  29. ThatGirl*

    When I was looking for a new job last year, I had seen what seemed to be the same ad from a company several times over the past six months and was wary of applying for it. I figured either they were too picky or had a huge amount of turnover.

    Well, I ended up applying anyway – and got a good explanation: their marketing department had rapidly expanded – due to both company growth and the fact that they hadn’t really HAD much of a marketing department before. They’d hired two other people to the same position (marketing copywriter) in the last 6 months and were looking for one more. Which ended up being me.

    Now, I will grant you that growth is not always sustainable, but in this case there are still 3 of the 4 of us left, and the person who left did so of her own accord – though they did decide not to re-fill the position immediately. But I see the potential for more of us in the future as the company has grown again.

  30. Artemesia*

    I want to echo Alison’s advice about getting information on this from outside sources. In interviewing for my first big post grad school job 50+ years ago I asked all the right questions about financial stability — they lied. The place crashed and burned 3 years later and I had moved my husband in a very non mobile profession out of a partnership track into unemployment while he scrambled to find something in a new city. We weathered it all but it was awful. They lied. In those days there was no way to check on the internet; I also wanted to believe what I was told — because when you want the job you can easily talk yourself into not seeing what you are seeing.

    If you have concerns find sources of information outside the company and use every possible internet avenue like Glassdoor and even Yelp reviews if it is a company that produces something likely to be reviewed.

  31. AB*

    Certain industries also have cycles of recent undergrads moving on to graduate programs after gap years, particularly in STEM fields, that can look alarming when it’s actually pretty normal. Where I work we have research assistants typically for 2-3 years while they prep for graduate entrance exams, apply, and wait for school to start. Really just depends on industry and seniority of positions.

  32. KR*

    Depending on the location, it may be that they’re hiring military spouses or family members who are getting orders and moving away as well. Definitely a yellow flag depending on the specific posting

  33. Olygirl*

    If Seattle, Bellevue, or Portland are the base for this company, those areas have high high high COL and horrendous commutes to less-expensive but still high housing. Remote work made the commute go away and allowed people to move farther out of the core area searching for affordable housing. (Seattle is a nightmare right now—my kid is paying $4500 a month for a two-bedroom bungalow and happy to have it.) Now that in-office is returning, many workers are jumping ship and looking for fully remote—of which there is a lot available. Just a thought so maybe check out if this place is shifting from remote to in-person/hybrid and thus losing employees.

  34. H3llifIknow*

    You see a lot of job postings, but do you know for a fact that they reflect turnover? As a govt contractor, ror example, when we win large contracts, lots of job postings to fill those positions. They may be ramping up work. Or, yeah they may be awful and people are leaving in droves, but that wouldn’t necessarily be my first thought. Have you checked them out on Glassdoor? That might give you some insight into the culture there.

  35. Julie*

    If that company happens to be a federal agency or depend on federal investments it is very likely that it is recruiting for many positions because of two recent bills that were signed by this administration.

  36. DJ Abbott*

    Don’t assume any company is telling you the truth or the whole truth. If there’s something they don’t want you to know, they’ll either lie or not mention it.
    When I was young I saw this a couple of times, the company lied or failed to mention high turnover or other problems. Even the job I have now didn’t tell me the whole truth. I asked what happened to the person before me in the position and they said she got promoted. That was true. They didn’t mention the first person they hired to replace her had walked off the job and filed a harassment complaint.
    Luckily this company is not so bad and I’ve been able to work with their flaws and they’re trying to work with mine. It remains to be seen whether they have realistic expectations. I’ve never gotten an evaluation that wasn’t at least meets expectations, until now.
    I hope it works out because I really like this job.

  37. Cheesesticks*

    I am in the camp of the yellow flag. I lived out there and found there were some jobs with very large well known companies that were only contract and they seemed to grind through them regularly. It got to the point where if I was approached on Linkedin, I would just outright ask if it was for company X. Most of the time it was so it was a hard pass for me.

    I did end up working remotely for a company on the East Coast. While the hours were sometimes a bit brutal, I found the payoff of getting off of work in the middle of the afternoon to be well worth it.

  38. Susquehanna*

    There was a local place which was advertising frequently for the same accounting positions over and over. A friend of a friend worked there so I asked about it and learned their current controller was ‘uncomfortable’ with computers, so all of the accounting was done in ledger books by hand.

    This was in 2007.

    The ads were definitely a red flag.

  39. Res Admin*

    As one of only 2 employees in my unit remaining from before lockdown, I have to say, it does not have to be a red flag. The turnover we experienced was largely very positive for the employees that left (among other things, our employer had huge early retirement incentives during lockdown creating a lot of new promotional opportunities in other units) and the majority continued to work with us in a part-time consulting capacity until we could re-hire.

    The key was that we tried to very up front and honest about what was going on and why so many positions were available (more than had left, since we took the opportunity to revamp job descriptions and create new positions to fill gaps). It became a really good talking point during interviews as well–the questions that interviews asked or did not ask about what was going on was very telling as was their response to our explanations.

    Do I ever want to go through this again? NO! However we have a great new team that is in many ways better and stronger than the previous team. And I learned a lot about keeping an open mind, asking well thought out questions, and listening carefully to what people say–which is going to be key for both sides during any interview process.

  40. crookedglasses*

    Just doubling down on the advice not to take the company’s explanation at face value without any further sleuthing. I worked at a company with very high turnover. We dressed up our frequent numerous job postings as “We’re growing!” even as our headcount was steadily declining.

    Glassdoor could be a useful datapoint as well.

  41. badgerbadger*

    The company I work for has been growing and we need to add 3 of the same position to our team. I’ve been recruiting for this role all year long and we’re not getting great applicants. We’ve extended offers that have been accepted, and then a few days before they’re supposed to start they rescind their acceptance citing a better opportunity elsewhere. (no joke, this has happened 3 times in the last 4 months).

    We are looking at other options and even offering the position at a lower status (where we’d need 2 people in the position as opposed to 1 person with more experience).

    It’s definitely an employees market right now.

  42. The weather is very grey, I'm told*

    Another possible source of turnover is that people move to the Pacific Northwest and then realize that they can’t handle the climate and have to move away again. (My best friend did that.)

    Obviously, digging deeper is a good idea.

  43. AnnieG*

    Do some internet sleuthing on LinkedIn—search the company name, then filter by people (profiles). How long do ppl work there? Are there job titles that look like a revolving door (ppl cycling through that position) or is the company adding more employees in the same role?

  44. Quake*

    At my job we’ve had five long-time management members announce their retirement withing the past two weeks, and another being transferred to a different city. I’m sure to people on the outside it must look like we’re crumbling!

  45. jojo*

    Long time ads. I live in what is considered a remote location. My company always has an ad up for about three jobs because they are specialized and hard to fill. People take the job and work maybe six months and do not like the remOTE area so they quit. So we need another person. Job just stays up all thectime

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