Job Hunt 2023
By: Financial Hotline
Spring 2023 (Vol. 41, No. 1)
Q: I am looking for a job I can do from home but I am having difficulty weeding out the legitimate offer from all the scams out there. Any advice on how to get through to the real jobs?
A: The ads pop up online, on late night TV, pop up on your personal phone or social media. They all promise you a good paying job for little work, but they are really a ploy to get your money and your personal information. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
1. If it sounds too good to be true – it is probably a scam. Ignore it. At best, its only a tiny bit true. Will completing surveys online pay you $100 a day? No. But sites like Survey Junkie, InBox Dollars and Branded Surveys may make you an extra $5 to $10 per day.
2. If a job requires you to pay your employer for training, certification, or inventory upfront, avoid it. Jobs pay you – you don’t pay them. If training is required with a legitimate job, it’s usually free or deducted from your first paycheck.
3. Beware of cleverly disguised pyramid schemes. If your paycheck is dependent on you recruiting others to sell products, who in turn have to get others to sell products, those at the top of the pyramid are the only ones profiting.
4. Don’t fall for resell scams. These suppliers promise you amazing products at greatly reduced prices with the premise that you can easily resell at full price. You invest in inventory that either never arrives or you get stuck with inferior products and unhappy customers.
5. Research direct online product providers carefully. Some sites provide set up for you to upsell their product and have it shipped directly to the client. You get your followers to buy, splitting the money with the supplier who never ships the product. Now you are stuck giving a full refund.
6. If it seems shady, trust your instincts. For example, ‘shipping’ jobs require you to receive packages at your home, remove and destroy the original packaging, then repack and mail to your employer’s address. The employer is buying expensive items with stolen credit cards and having them shipped to you so you can forward them on. By the time you catch on, you will find their phone is disconnected and your paycheck never arrives. As a bonus, they use the personal information you gave on your application to steal your identity and get credit in your name so they can send new merchandise to the next ‘employee’.
7. If you get any offer that asks you to deposit more than you are owed and give the overpayment back to the employer – walk away. Never give money back on a check, cashier’s check, gift card or even an online transfer. This is a popular scam that has many versions. A current version sends you a signing bonus right away but requires you to use part of those funds to purchase their equipment that you need for the job. You don’t discover the signing bonus bounced until after you make the purchase that never arrives. You may also be targeted if you post an ad for a service, rental or product.
8. Be cautious of mystery shopper jobs. A legitimate mystery shopping company won’t ask you to pay for anything upfront. If the requirements and requests feel uncomfortable, walk away, or ask a trusted adviser for help vetting them.
9. Beware of job placement services that charge you a fee to find you a job. Reputable job placement firms get paid by the hiring company to find qualified applicants. They will not ask you for money upfront.
10. Watch for copycat listings. Scammers use the names of well-known employers to post job openings that don’t exist. Visit the official website for the organization or company you’re applying for and apply directly. A popular scam uses flyers or social media listings for fake medical billing jobs. If it doesn’t come directly from a medical or hospital facility, it’s probably not legit.
Q: Are there any job sites I can trust?
A: We still recommend researching a company before handing over sensitive information but going through a reputable site substantially cuts down your risks. Here are some popular ones that rate high on the trust meter:
- USAJobs.gov, CareerOneStop.org and USA.gov are sponsored by the U.S. government
- Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com are good for overall searches
- FlexJobs.com and VirtualVocations.com specifically target remote and work at home job seekers
- RobertHalf.com and Ladders.com focus more on executives and upper management positions
Q: I got targeted by a job scammer. Is there anything I can do?
A: No matter how you paid — debit or credit card, mobile payment app or wire transfer, gift card, cash reload card, or cryptocurrency — immediately contact the company you used to send the money, report the fraud, and ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. Report the scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also report it to your state attorney general. Monitor your financial accounts for fraudulent activity and report to your creditors if you see anything amiss.
Q: Where can I research employers and find average salaries for jobs?
A: You can do your own research and find a lot of information online through the company’s own website and related news articles and consumer reviews. Sites like Glassdoor.com compile job postings, reviews and salary information in easily searchable platforms. Payscale.com and Salary.com can give you an idea of what salary your skills will fetch in today’s job market. GreatPlaceToWork.com gives details on compensation packages and lists of the best places to work.
Q: Are online applications the best place to start my job search?
A: While applying to jobs offered on online apps is an essential part of the search process, the number one best way to find a job is still good old-fashioned networking. Contact anyone and everyone you know who may be looking to hire in your field or who may know someone who is looking. Face to face is best, a voice call, text or email follow up is good practice. The modern twist to this tried-and-true method is connecting to potential employers through business social media.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools online and it’s a proven way to reach potential employers. To maximize your exposure on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is complete and up to date.
Be specific and detailed about your current skills, experiences, and objectives. Build your network. The app will import your contact lists from sites like Gmail or Yahoo. Use the search tool to connect with friends, acquaintances, professors, or alumni – anyone you have a past experience or common interest with. Once you get an accepted connection, you can search their contacts for mutual connections. Announce that you are looking for employment and use your headline to reinforce it. Reach out to your connections individually for introductions to targeted employers. Research the companies you want to work for and follow them on LinkedIn.