Looking for a new job can be an exciting time but, with so many prospects in front of you, choosing which ones to spend time applying to requires an element of wisdom and cynicism. There seem to be a ton more jobs available today than there were a couple of decades back – but many of the adverts you find online will be of little use. Lots of them are duplicated, or expired, or even fake: there are said to be as many as 70 scam job listings online for every one genuine one, although it depends which recruitment platform you look at.
And other jobs may seem genuine and even promising but hide unfavorable attributes that you need to figure out in advance before signing a contract.
How to spot a scam job
Scam job openingsare often just money-spinners for out-and-out fraudsters. Some include a premium phone number, or will send you a number by text message after you enter your details. When you call up to find more, you’ll develop a hefty phone bill – and the bulk of your money ends up with the scammer. Naturally, you have no job to show for this endeavor, so it’s just you and your phone bill at the end of the month.
Moderately more sophisticated fraudsters use the want-ads as a means to conduct identity theft. They may go to some effort to make their (non-existent) job look legit, in order to entice you to send your social security number and bank details. Not a good idea. You need to make sure you’re super positive about the authenticity of a potential employer before you give them anything to work with (and if they ask for a monetary deposit, they can forget about it altogether!)
Other dodgy individuals may indeed have the money to pay you, but what they want you to do for the money is illegal. Either they expect you to break or bend the law, or they plan to underpay you or have you work in a way that endangers your health and safety.
Take a good look at the name of the business that has posted the scam job ad. If it resembles that of a known-brand, they could be ‘piggybacking’ in order to look legitimate. If they don’t have a business name at all, you need to know why before pursuing the opportunity. The advantage of applying to a company with a business name is you can run them through Google and Glassdoor and soon find out if they really exist – and if so, what their previous employees think of them.
A job ad that looks too good to be true usually is. It’s not worth being lazy or hurried, even if you’re desperate for work: it can prove a false economy if that ‘quick cash’ or ‘easy at-home work’ ends up being paid at exploitative rates, or the employer disappears before payday.
How to spot a job that’s not a good fit
Scam job stories aside, there are other perfectly legal jobs that it’s worth thinking twice about before you spend time applying to them.
Some employers tread the thin line between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ – and certainly step the far side of ‘ethical.’ Like an estate agent who calls a miniscule apartment ‘cozy,’ these advertisers use certain words or terms to disguise the true awfulness of what they expect from you. ‘High-pressure environment’ is one; it means they don’t employ enough people to get the work done, so those they do employ have to work far harder than should reasonably be expected of them. ‘Perfect for students or stay-at-home parents’ is another one, and usually involves a large quantity of repetitive work for very little pay (but you don’t realize how low the pay is until you get started and figure out how long it’s going to take you).
Whether to apply for a decent-looking job
Once you’ve ignored all the scam job listings and all the exploiters, you’re left with just a handful of jobs suitable to your skillset and experience level. Some will be more appealing than others. But it’s still worth doing a bit more research before you put your precious energy into applying and potentially attending an interview. A very straightforward check is to see when the job ad was originally posted: if it was more than four months ago, the vacancy has probably expired, and you should either ignore it or contact the employer to check if it’s still available.
Take a closer look, now, at the Glassdoor profile for the company you want to apply to. Do the wage listings match what they said in the advert? If not, it could be that they’ve advertised your potential earnings, not your starting pay. What do the employee reviews say about working there? If the negative reviews outweigh the positives, or there’s an indication of high employee turnover, it’s probably a sign that it’s not a pleasant place to work.
If the reviews are mostly positive, you should still weigh them up carefully against your own needs and preferences. If the work environment looks too competitive or not competitive enough, too high-pressure or too lacking in opportunities for self-improvement, you could waste a big chunk of the next few months working there.
Thankfully, the experts over at resume.io have created a fabulous new resource to help you figure out whether an ad that attracts you is legitimate, and if its not a scam job ad whether it’s a decent job, and even then – if it’s the right job for you. Time to check those want-ads!