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Beware Of Fake Job Listings On Career Websites

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The following is written for two purposes:

1. To help you spot and avoid fake or misleading job listings.
2. Because this story is pretty entertaining. Read it, it’s funny.

Yesterday I received a phone call from a company I had never heard of informing me that I’d been selected for a job interview based on the qualifications they’d reviewed on my Career Builder profile. I was told that the job interview would take place later that day and all questions I had would be answered in an email.

Immediately I was apprehensive and the email that promised to answer all my questions did nothing to lower my suspicions. There were a few red flags right away.

1. It is very unlikely that any legitimate business would want to schedule an immediate interview. The business would want to give the applicant enough time to be fully prepared for the interview process as to not waste any of the business’ time.

2. The mysterious “company” had no internet presence. While not all businesses have websites, most have some for of presence on the internet. Either a Facebook page, a Yellow Book listing, or a review on a site like Yelp! Any business that is totally anonymous online should be considered highly suspect.

3. The company email address from which I was contacted was from a Yahoo account. This is a big professional no no and should have been the icing on the red flag cake.

4. Finally, I still had no idea what position I was interviewing for at this “company”.

Despite my apprehensions and the wealth of evidence to the lack of legitimacy of this offer, I had already made up my mind. I had to see what this place was all about. Call it childlike curiosity or a self-deprecating sense of adventure, but I have a knack for putting myself into precarious positions. Today would be no different.

Like a good little applicant I arrived early to the interview full of confidence because I knew that I did not want this job. I walked into an office that could be efficiently described by one word. Sketchy. The place was Sketchville. Sketch Town USA.

Let me set the scene; it appeared the “company” had just moved into the office as there were no signs of any human activity, let alone work being done. It seemed the perfect place of a murder of an affair. The walls were bare except for Mexican themed “fiesta” decorations that were hung around the room. In the middle of the office was a row of fold out chairs for the applicants to sit, and a large screen TV directly in front of the chairs. For some reason, Maroon 5 was playing.

I was handed a clipboard with a job application attached and told to sit next to the other applicants and fill out the application. This seemed odd because they should have already had my resume with all the necessarily info; plus I hadn’t filled out a “job application” since high school, but I was already there so I figured I’d relax and enjoy the show.

The only irregularity on the application hinted at the “company’s” true intentions behind the interview process. They asked for references, but not business references. They wanted friends and family. This was a cut and dry sign of prospect mining. I wrote down silly names and fake numbers and continued waiting for my interview.

It turned out there would be no individual interviews. Our host explained that the interview process would be conducted in groups in order to “keep the process fun and informal”. The host began a presentation explaining what we were applying for and what the company was all about. In reality though, the presentation contained no real content and was filled with meaningless phrases like “we like having fun” and “we share a positive work environment”.

Aside from answering none of my questions, the presentation focused mainly on how much potential money we could make and how quickly we could move up in the “company”. This type of rhetoric is common in pyramid scheme operations and should raise major red flags. As always, if it sounds to good to be true, like easy money and quick promotions, it probably is a scam.

Towards the end of the presentation, two rather large and surly looking characters in button ups and ties entered the room and sat down behind us. At this point I was positive I was about to get robbed. The mafia looking gentlemen were introduced as bosses in the company and watched the end of the presentation in the back of the room.

At the end of the show, we were told that we were all invited to an orientation the next day, and that one on one interviews would be conducted outside (during the rain storm) as we left. By chance, I ended up being the last one in the room waiting for my exit interview, alone with the large surly characters. As I had my back to them, I stood up and turned around. I wasn’t going down without a fight.

To my relief, they left to go outside, and when it was finally my turn to leave, I told our host that I still had no idea what I was being hired to do. Her answer once again contained no definitive answer and was steeped in “customer relations” rhetoric.  I informed her that I was not interested in the job and burned rubber as I exited the parking lot.

I was sure something unwholesome was going on and when I got home I did a little research. It turns out my suspicions were correct. The scam is simple, lure in candidates with the promise of big paychecks, inform them that they will have clients lined up, then ask them to train by setting up sales appointments with their family and friends.

In the end there will be no clients lined up. The goal is to get the sales people to purchase “display models” of the product, then to get the sales people to lure in their family and friends to join the sales force with the caveat that sales members would receive a commission on any sales money the people they recruit might earn.  Classic pyramid.

I tell you this story to let you know that these types of operations exist and are currently going on in Lafayette. If you are someone you know is currently looking for a job online, watch out for these offers that seem too good to be true. They aren’t worth your time.

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