Job search? Eight Tips to Avoid Fake Ads, Online Scams, and Job Abuse

It is the middle of the recession; you are looking for a job. As you become more desperate, you are more vulnerable to bogus job advertisements, online scams, and workplace abuse. Yes, these traps are everywhere; in fact, new legislation is needed to protect job seekers like you. Before we ask our politicians to take action, here are eight tips for you to avoid job search pitfalls.

1. Spot fake job ads. Why does someone post fake job ads? Because recruiters build their own database of job seekers by collecting resumes, even the jobs don’t exist at the time. Also, shabby companies, usually start-ups, post fake job ads, so they can trick potential investors into thinking the company is hiring and expanding. Fake job ads appear on free and non-free websites. If you’ve seen a recruiter repeatedly advertise a common job, it’s probably a fake one.

2. If a job posting does not contain the company name or contact information, the company does not trust its reputation or the employer is not serious at all. In any case, you don’t want to work for a company like that.

3. Avoid being abused as free labor. If a small business gives you a take-home test of writing an article about their product or designing the company’s website in two days, turn it down. This is not a test; this is labor abuse. However, it is okay to take a 4-hour exam at an established company. Do not accept any unpaid internship at a small business of less than two people. After all, that company may disappear after your internship.

4. If a job posting requires your credit card number or asks you to purchase their products first, that’s a scam. A real job pays you, not the other way around.

5. Do not apply for any sales job that does not offer a base salary. Pure commission usually means pure exploitation. A genuine sales position always offers a fixed base salary, with commissions to reward good performance.

6. Avoid pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing pitfalls. Here’s a classic example: “You recruit 10 people, then they each recruit 10 people, who in turn recruit 10 people each… you’ll earn millions in commissions.” This is a scam, not a business model.

7. Use reliable job search websites. Even in the recession, there are still plenty of secure, well-paying jobs, especially in the expanding public sector. For example, provides federal government jobs; offers government jobs at the state and municipal levels; lists many college and school staff jobs.

8. Always ask the experts, even on CNN. The experts are not always right, which is why we are now in a recession. Also, each individual is different; you know yourself better than those experts who speak on television to attract advertisers. If you need any professional advice, ask the people around you first.

Without laws to protect job applicants, fake ads, online scams, and job abuse are becoming more common. Increase your awareness, and I hope my tips can help you avoid these pitfalls and eventually achieve a great career. Good luck!

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