Work can cause a great deal of stress. More than half, 57%, of workers report experiencing the impacts of work-related stress such as emotional exhaustion, low motivation and a desire to quit, according to the American Psychological Association's 2023 Work in America Survey.
Whether or not a job ends up being stressful can be the result of a series of factors. A toxic boss, an overwhelming workload and a lack of flexibility can all play into your experience. And, critically, stress can be subjective. "What's best for [you] might not be for someone else," says Vicki Salemi, career coach at Monster.
That being the case, "it's important to do your own research before accepting any job opportunity to make sure a particular role is the right fit for you," says LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill.
In order to be aware of your personal red flags, you'll need to get a sense of what stress on the job could look like. Ask yourself, "What does that job that's low stress look like to you and what does the employer provide?" says Salemi.
Does it mean working from home? If you're working from home, does it mean "putting work aside and not having to think about it" once the workday is over, says Salemi. Are you worried about the idea of "managing multiple projects or people?" says McCaskill.
Make a list of your ideal work parameters and let those be your guide for the job that would ultimately suit you best.
Then, when you're applying, there are several ways to gauge if a job might be stressful.
- Try visiting a company's LinkedIn page or website to get a sense of its values and culture. "If they have values such as work-life balance highlighted, this could be a good indicator that the company prioritizes their employees' well-being," says McCaskill.
- You can also reach out to a current employee for an informational interview. "Be respectful of their time and come up with a few main questions you'd like answered — whether it be about work-life balance, company culture, what the job entails, or simply 'what's it like to work there?'" says McCaskill.
- The job interview itself presents an opportunity to gauge day-to-day work stress as well. "Come prepared with questions about a company's values, culture, or what a day-to-day schedule might look like," says McCaskill, adding, "Don't be afraid to be direct in your questions and follow up for specific examples."
"Be on the lookout for any signs and red flags that might lead you to believe a job might be high-stress or not align with your values," says McCaskill, "and keep asking important questions throughout the entire process."
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