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How to avoid scams when searching for remote online jobs
If you're reading this, you've likely looked for a job or two online, and now you're wondering why things didn't go according to plan. Well, don't knock yourself down, plenty of people run into job-related scams from time to time, and it doesn't matter if you're on a reputed site which claims to be the best.
There are scams out there, everywhere actually, and you could be falling for one soon and not even know it, and that's why I'm writing this discussion. I recently started looking for some additional freelance work, so I decided to hit some job boards to see what I could apply for. Well, I quickly noticed a few signs of scammy looking job listings, but I'm sure plenty of people fell for them. After reporting the jobs as suspicious, I started thinking, "I wonder if other people know the warning signs of a fake job posting?" and this discussion idea was born!
Be careful when on legitimate job sites
Like I mentioned above, even the bigger job sites have fake listings, and you could be falling for them! I ran through a couple of these boards and found a handful of listings that didn't seem right. I decided to write down the tell-tale signs of what makes a fake listing stand out, and there are.
- You get asked for personal information almost immediately
If you do apply for a good job and someone asks for your name, email, SSN, address, etc. before hiring you... It's a fake job listing, and the person on the other end is trying to rob you of your identity. No employer will ever ask those questions unless you're already hired and filling out paperwork for the company. Also, the accountant will be asking these questions, not a hiring manager, which is another red flag!
- The email address from the "owner" doesn't seem right
If you're applying to a business and the person you're talking to has a Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or any other free email account then you should look somewhere else for a job. If the person you're talking to for a position at a legitimate company doesn't have a legitimate email with this business, it's likely a scam, and they're using the business's identity to drop your guard and create a false sense of security. Only work with people who are responding with the @BusinessName you're applying to.
- Emails and interactions are loaded with spelling and grammatical errors
If you're applying for a company down the street or within your country, and the person you're emailing back and forth has a lot of grammatical and spelling errors in their responses, chances are it's a fake job, and you're one step closer to being scammed.
No company is going to outsource the job hiring process to a country that can't speak the same language as you. Hell, they're not going to outsource it at all! Most hiring managers work for the company, have an office at the business, and talk to you from that office while you're online or on the phone lol.
- You are offered the position before doing any interview
If you apply for a position and they come back with "You're hired!" then it's likely fake. Sometimes these jobs are legitimate, and the company needs people desperately. Still, those jobs are highly stressful and unorganized, which results in high employee turnover rates, and you will want to quit before you get your first paycheck lol.
Just remember, if they don't want to interview you for a position, it's likely fake or not a good job at all, so avoid it!
- The salary or hourly pay is far too high for what you'd be doing
I was browsing a popular platform called angel.co and was looking through a lot of companies looking to hire content writers. Most of the positions were normally priced, but some of them were far from normal, like in the $100,000+ range for content writing, and I applied!
I applied because I was sure it was going to come back as a scammy website trying to entice people to submit all their information, pay to get accepted, or they would suck, and I'd move on lol. I also applied in case the company didn't know what to pay and was going to hand over a truckload of cash for simple content added to their blog lmao Well, it turns out that I was right and most of the sites weren't paying people 100k USD a year, but they were paying 100k in another currency that equaled around $10,000 per year :'(
Search for jobs on Google (yeah, it works)
Like I mentioned above, I was browsing through all the major job sites and trying to find the best positions for me. Well, I decided to do a basic Google search for "Content writer Chicago" and started to stumble upon Google Jobs.
Most of you reading this are probably thinking, "Yeah, Tommy. That's been around for a while," but I never knew! lol
After doing some research, I noticed that Google jobs are similar to how ZipRecruiter works. They aggregate a massive amount of job listings, let you filter based on your search criteria, and you can go through them one by one to see what fits you best.
Try it out; it's pretty awesome!
Research the companies that you're thinking of applying to
If you're tired of getting accepted for jobs then realizing the companies that want to hire you are total crap, you should research every company you're applying to. I started doing this to figure out if a company would be able to pay me my asking price for each piece of content I was going to write. It turns out that not many companies are willing to pay $100+ per article even if it's written perfectly, it's optimized, and it's 2,000+ words long lol
Doing the research beforehand allows me to filter out the nice-looking companies that wouldn't be able to pay me, and then I'm left with the winners who can afford to spend a little more on content. I've noticed this little trick saves me a ton of time, headaches, and I don't have to get hired and then fire myself when they say they can only pay a fraction of what I asked for.
Make sure the job says "Remote," and there isn't a language barrier
If you're trying to work remotely and you're looking for something on all the major job boards, be sure it says "Remote" in the title or description. If it doesn't, don't waste your time applying, because the company won't want to work with you if you're not willing to travel to their office.
I tend to get emails asking me to work for companies as a content writer, but when I tell them I'm not willing to travel 2+ hours to get to the office and 2+ back to my house, they seem to be less excited to bring me on board. I have gotten a few who wanted to pay me for travel, but none of them wanted to hire me as a remote worker, and that's why I don't waste my time on listings that don't say "Remote" in them lol.
Working remotely is amazing, getting scammed is not, so be sure to do all your homework before applying to anything online, so you know what you're getting into. Make sure to have your guard up even when the job sounds amazing because those are sometimes the trickier listings that get people caught up in a scam. If you want to work remotely, then you need to apply for remote work, don't try to convince a company to let you work remotely. In the end, have fun when searching for work like this and never stress too much about it since you're not handing over a single bit of information until you're hired!
Thanks for reading
- Tommy Carey