By now, we know that the online world isn't always what it seems to be. Misleading, sugar-coating and straight-up lying comes with the territory, and job sites are a popular platform for these tricks.
People who are new to the working world, like recent high school and college grads, are especially vulnerable to being duped by dreamy job listings. A lack of real world experience combined with the intense pressure to please can be a recipe for disaster (Trust me, I've had enough career path missteps to know).
The good news is that rotten jobs are actually pretty easy to spot, and the only differences between a naive job-seeker and an expert job-seeker are practice and patience.
Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs that those "perfect" job listings may not be what they seem. Plus, learn exactly what to avoid using examples of real, cringe-worthy job listings that caught my eye online.
The job listing contains an unforgivable number of errors
Not everyone is an expert seller or grammarist. A few minor typos or syncatical slip-ups isn’t the end of the world. Anything more than that, though, is a red flag. Poorly written job listings can indicate the listing was posted using a third party — like a recruting company — or by a business based outside the United States (where most scam communication originates).
Avoid job listings with uncommon or strange misspellings — say, a totally botched spelling of the company’s city name — or ones that just don’t make much sense.
The job listing promises a specific — often outrageous — salary upfront
Plenty of companies altogether avoid mentioning money in their job listings. No respectable company would guarantee you a certain pay well before they even learn your name (let alone do a background check).
When companies do choose to disclose job compensation, they usually do so in the form of a range — “$15 to $20/hr”, for example, or “between 40k-45k, DOE” (depending on experience). This allows the job candidate (that’s you!) to get a feel for the magnitude of the role, while it also keeps the company’s inbox free of applications from people seeking higher pay.
The job listing is dramatic, boastful or obnoxious
Kudos to Plato for calling out these frauds thousands of years in advance. His proverbial declaration that “an empty vessel makes the loudest sound” is as true in modern America as it was in ancient Greece, and you don’t have to look far to find out how much.
Companies who get bold, brash or braggadocious in their job listings often do so with less-than-pure intentions in mind. Sometimes, these more aggressive pitch techniques are actually help to lure the eyes of qualified job-seekers. Other times, they mislead the extra-eager-yet-less-experienced folks into applying for a role they really aren’t fit for.
The job listing claims you can “Be your own boss”
This oxymoron is a popular phrase in multi-level marketing schemes, otherwise known as pyramid schemes. It’s the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too appeal of this type of job listing that puts aspiring entrepreneurs on the edge of their seats.
But, plenty a federal lawsuit have come to reveal that these job opportunities are far from the money-making dreams they appear to be. In actuality, less than one percent of people who join pyramid scheme programs make any money at all.
The job listing rushes you to apply
The sense of urgency established by countdown timers and hard deadlines may be just the push a reluctant QVC shopper needs to committ to a buy. A job, though, a legitimate, rewarding job, isn’t something you get by calling a 1-800 number and paying $29.95.
Companies that take their employee search seriously will be flexible about the length of the application process, because they know good things take time. When a job poster emphasizes how few spots are available or insists they need to hire ASAP, consider it an indication that the company’s priorities are totally out of whack.
Like any big investment, a new job opportuntity should be approached with caution and care. Securing a legitimate and fitting job is all about research, research, research. While it may take less than a few clicks and a phone call to get involved with a scam, it can cost you lots more in time, money and reputation in order to get out.
Have you ever been deceived by a scam job, or do you know someone who has?
Share your story in the comments!