Caveat Job Seeker: Company Scams


I’ve emphasized before that internet searches and online job hunting websites are a great source of open positions. But, as we all should know by now, not everything you see on the internet is as good as it may seem. The biggest problem at this point for me has been finding “Entry Level” jobs that turn out to not be as they were advertised.

Thanks to Reddit user rp416 for the image.

(Rule #1) BE CAREFUL. When searching online for jobs, be VERY wary of any position that advertises itself as “ENTRY LEVEL” or “MARKETING DEVELOPMENT”, etc. These companies typically advertise with flashy, eye-catching position titles, upper-case lettering, lots of exclamation points, or emphasis on marketing, management, and business development. Once you click on the link, the job description will give you some vague description of what the company does. They’ll try to draw you in with promises of fast movement to management, full training, and great company culture. But look carefully. Is it advertising for one position, or for a general idea of a job? Does it actually have a description of daily duties, or just give vague goals? These companies like to draw in a high volume of people with flashy, too-good-to-be-true opportunities. If you can’t believe your luck at finding such a perfect place, it’s probably not legit.

(Rule #2) DO YOUR RESEARCH. Not all of the companies offering a great job with upward mobility is sketchy. That’s why it’s really important to do your research. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other online job search websites have reviews that you can read for most companies. You should also check out the company’s website. If neither of these sources look good, think again about applying. In addition to those previously mentioned resources, do a basic Google search. If the company is sketchy, most likely someone will have mentioned it online somewhere. Another great resource is a blog I found, “Entry Level Job Scams”, which details companies that do this, complete with names and tactics. Check this out if you’re worried about job scams.

(Rule#3) BE SMART. If the job looks too good to be true, it probably is. If the emails you receive are from a Gmail or Yahoo, etc. account and not a company account, the place is a bit sketchy. Don’t throw out a good company because they fit one of these descriptions, but use caution and think through your decision to apply.

I called this “company scams” in the title of this blog for a reason. These companies don’t necessarily scam you– they just aren’t fully honest with their position advertisement and draw you in pretty deep before they reveal what the position actually is.

My experience with these companies is from last fall. I was in full job app. mode, and found what looked like something I was perfect for on LinkedIn. It was a marketing development position with a company that said they developed marketing strategies for a big-name cable provider. It was less than a day after I applied that I got a phone call asking to meet for an interview. I was so excited, and couldn’t wait to interview. The first interview was great. The office looked nicely put together, the interviewer was nice, but I felt like there was something a bit off– the interview only lasted about 15 minutes, and the questions were all personality-based, and when I asked about the day-to-day duties, the interviewer was a bit evasive and very vague. Still, I was naive and wanted to get an offer, so when I was invited to a second interview, I agreed.

It was the second interview that made me realize what I had gotten myself into. I arrived at the office, which was full of people walking around and talking, completely different from my previous time there when it was quiet and empty. I was taken back to an office, and paired up with a current employee who would be leading my interview for the day. I still wasn’t aware of what to expect, and was even more confused when the interviewer and another employee led me back outside to the parking lot, told me to follow them in my car, and then prepared to leave. I followed them for about half an hour, until we finally stopped at a Wal-Mart. We went in and sat at an attached cafe, where the interviewer asked me more in-depth questions. I finally learned what my job would be at that point– sitting at a table set-up in Wal-Mart, selling cable subscriptions. This was the “marketing development” job I had applied to? I stayed for the interview and to watch the two employees for a few minutes, then they sent me home and told me I’d hear back later.

You can’t imagine how angry I was at this point. I was mad at the company for lying to me about the job, I was mad at myself for falling for it, and felt taken advantage of. But to be honest now, my biggest problem was that I was naive and hadn’t spent a sufficient amount of time researching the company. So if you’re just starting your search, don’t be like I was. Keep your head and do your research. Know that not everything you see on these job search sites is accurate, especially if it seems too good to be true.


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