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Y’all… Did you guys know that entry-level job “scams” are a thing?
I know because I fell for one. I was halfway to Boston when I realized it too, so I ended up taking a nice leisurely drive over the Tappan Zee Bridge until realizing my mistake. Just a typical Wednesday afternoon in my job-hunting saga. Moral of the story is lessons were learned after a 4-hour drive to nowhere. So I wanted to share with you all the best ways to avoid entry-level job scams, along with several major red flags to look out for throughout your own search.
We all know the struggles of getting employment right after school, so these entry-level job scams are a total bitch. Keep scrollin’ to read more on how I eventually realized my mistake, and the red flags to look out for while you’re searching for employment. That way, you’ll be sure to avoid entry-level job scams and save your energy on job applications that really matter.
How to Avoid Entry-Level Job Scams – 4 Red Flags to Look For When Applying to Jobs
Here’s my story—
So I just moved home after a nasty breakup and have been riding the unemployment train for the past several weeks. No biggie, but this whole lack of income thing is really starting to get old.
My dream city is Boston, so most of my job search has been in that region. I’ve exhausted all the job searching resources you could imagine at this point in the game. Seriously, LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter are starting to show up in my dreams.
I applied for [what I thought was] an awesome community relations coordinator position for a company that works in the clean energy field. It seemed like a good fit for me considering my experience in corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
The next morning, I got a voicemail from an HR lady regarding my application.
If you’re applying to a million jobs like me, I would highly recommend letting unknown numbers go to voicemail. For example, you don’t want a recruiter starts asking you questions about a company that you haven’t looked up in the past 2 months. Bad answers could leave you SOL for moving onto the next round of the hiring process. If a call is important, they’ll leave a voicemail. Just make sure your voicemail box is not full lol.
I was squealing with excitement, so I did my company research and eventually called her back. We talked for a minute (literally a minute, see red flag #3) and she wanted me to come in for an in-person interview.
I am flexible with all my unemployment swagger, so I pulled the “I am flexible I can come in any day you need me to be there” card. We set something up for the next morning, and I left later that afternoon to drive up to Boston.
Halfway through my mom gives me a call, letting me know she thinks it’s a scam. Rather than being an actual job opportunity (something beneficial for career growth), it turns out the job is a commission based, door-to-door sales job—aka the last thing I want in a career.
I won’t lie, I was angry at first. I had already been driving for two and a half hours, and I was in the middle of Connecticut. But it didn’t take long for me to connect the dots, and head on home.
What exactly were those dots that I connected? Here are the warnings or “red flags” to look out for, to avoid entry-level job scams in your future.
Red Flag #1: A Bizarre Job Description
I blame myself for not thoroughly reading the job description as I should have…or maybe I blame ZipRecruiter for their damn 1-click-apply option lol. Either way, it’s important to sift through all the details in the job description and watch out for things that may not relate to the company, position, or industry you are applying for.
For example, this community relations job was for a marketing firm for a clean energy company. One of the qualifications for the position was:
“Eager to learn all aspects of running an operation in the sports and entertainment industry.”
Suspicious? I think so.
Red Flag #2: Funky Website.
This is where I really went wrong and a huge factor to consider if you are looking to avoid entry-level job scams.
When you think of a “scammy” website, what comes to mind? For me, the idea of a mistrustful website is something that looks like it was made in the 90’s, with terrible grammar and spelling mistakes.
This company’s, website was legit…but the content itself was not. It was extremely vague and did not give you an in-depth explanation of their history, how they were formed, or EVEN THE CEO. None of that information was available through the website.
Their career section did not list a single job…like, I’m talking not even a LINK to the ZipRecruiter site.
When looking for a strange website, look for obscure and open-ended explanations, without any background or backstory to fill in the blanks. It’s easy to say you work collaboratively as a team, but explaining how is a whole different story.
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Red Flag #3: Quick and Painless “Phone Interview”
Notice how I put phone interview in quotes. It wasn’t really a phone interview at all.
She asked me two things-
- Are you okay with working in a marketing firm setting?
- When can you come in?
The call lasted maybe 3 minutes max. She didn’t ask me any questions about my background, nor determined if I was even remotely qualified for the job (which I prob would have crushed but that’s beside the point). She didn’t even ask me if I had any questions. Which I actually did because I was confused about the sports and entertainment industry tidbit in the job description.
I didn’t think anything of this at first because I figured it was more so a phone “screening” rather than an interview. She had mentioned her hiring manager had seen my resume, so I figured that he or she already liked what I had to offer. However, looking back I see that’s not the case.
Watch out for overly enthusiastic recruiters who are looking to get you in for an interview, without asking you anything about your background or education.
Red Flag #4: Negativity in Online Public Forums.
There’s a major difference between an angry employee vs. a public forum warning you about a company “scam.”
Having been a slacker in my research, and just so excited that I even had an interview, I did not research the position/company like I had should. Many regrets but valuable lessons learned.
You know when you start typing something into google and it auto fills with previous searches that people have made? If you search “Company Name” and SCAM pops up…GTFO. Even an angry employee wouldn’t go as far as to create a public forum with scam information.
And for the record, multiple people responded to that forum agreeing with the person who started it. If you so desire, you can read that —-> here.
It was this unavoidable red flag that got me questioning the rest of their company practices before deciding to turn around and try my luck elsewhere.
It’s frustrating as an entry-level candidate searching for jobs to come across companies that do this to their potential employees.
Had I gone to the interview, I’m certain I would have realized that the position was not what I desire in my ultimate career path. Thanks to my lovely mother (who is much more thorough than me), I quickly realized my mistake and learned a valuable lesson on how to avoid entry-level job scams.
Before applying to positions, make sure you carefully vet through a company’s website, job descriptions, and background to determine if sending in an application is worth your time. Watch out for these 4 red flags, and you can easily avoid entry-level job scams.
Have you been through a similar situation? How did you handle it? Comment your thoughts below!