Job Scammers, What The @#$%

This post is a bit longer than normal; I am sorry for that. There is a bit of info to put in here and too little to split into two posts. This advice is only that, my advice. Take what you want, leave what you don’t want.

We now live in a province that is struggling, we struggle for food, maintain a shelter, and find work. Sure, everyone has their sad story, but it’s like we are slowing morphing into the city of Gotham. Where is Batman to stop the evil men in our real world? Praying on the unemployed, desperate and helpless. The law can’t keep up with the technology and scams that are floating around, so are helpless themselves. Ever since the rejection of old-fashioned moral values, enforcement of rules in schools and the common public expectation to be kind in our daily life, then the ease of bringing people closer with technology; our world is becoming more and more of a jungle, filled with dangerous creatures at every turn. I’m talking creatures that want to hurt you and take your money.

I have looked for work for some time now and it has been tough. Rejection is becoming a daily expectation for me. But one thing that surprised me was discovering and stumbling over job scam after job scam. They are everyplace.

My first encounter was a job that offered management training, no experience needed. What? I have never seen this before in my life. What kind of job wants managers that have never worked a day in their life? Or has absolutely no idea about the job? Curious as I am I fired off a résumé. Sure enough, they emailed me back with a Skype call appointment.  My second red flag. A Skype call? They claim to be in the same city, why on earth would I need to do a Skype call? I started to research the company online, just googled the name of the company. There was no official website like you would find for Wal-Mart or Ikea. The only links were of job search engines. There was no contact number, no address, and no way to get a hold of anyone or go to the office. This is BIG red flag three.

I decided that I would ask around about this as it just seemed wrong to me. I am sure with new technology there may be some new ways of conducting interviews, but Skype for a job in the same city is just wrong. Perhaps if I were applying for a job in another city, country, or perhaps someday different planet, a Skype call would be reasonable. The commute for a 30 min interview would be killer on the pocket-book. I asked a job placement agency that was legit, I went to the office itself, I also talked to the government job search section of our government building. I learned a lot about what scammers are doing, even physically harming people to get their money. So be don’t put private information on your résumé when sending online. I will talk more about what not to put on your online resume at the end of this post.

Scammers are getting people to pay money up front for a job or enrollment in a company, using whatever label they can to get you to pay. Pay for administration fees, or processing fees, or pay for membership or training fees. All CRAP! Don’t pay it, run away from any company that wants this. Unless you are buying into becoming your own boss, it’s not your cash that legitimate business get upfront. Apparently, people have been physically harmed. This is just insane, crazy beyond measure.

I once had a phone call scammer call me representing himself as a company that I won something. As I was talking to him I started to get those red flag feelings. He swore, he did not use proper sophisticated language, meaning too casual of speech for a proper business. He would ask me my postal code, address and I wouldn’t give it to him.  He seemed wrong so I called him on it. I told him that he did not sound like a legitimate HR personal, I then told him I think he is a scammer. Well I thought he swore a bit before, he could make a pirate blush now. I hung up on him, hoping that would be the end of it. Oh no, no, he was not done with me. He would call and tell me he will find me, he knew what city I lived in and said he was coming for me and my family. He was angry at me for exposing him for what he was, he chose that life so why? Why would anyone want to hurt others so much and find joy in it maybe, power? I would not give him that, I am perhaps stupid, but I will not satisfy such a ridiculous behaviour. I would just hang up on him. I called the police but as usual, they said until something happens they can’t do anything about it. Plus, being a call from overseas it is out of their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction? Don’t they join with other countries to stop these people? But I can make an official complaint. Typical, I had heard that when dealing with a violent ex-boyfriend stalker.

So this phone scammer called me at 2 am everyday for a month, I changed my phone number and it was peaceful for about two weeks and it started again. I changed my number again and complained to the phone company that they have a leak in the company and I made a huge deal of it. I have not heard from him since. I learned he knew my city simply by my phone number, since caller display is now available it is amazing what people can get from that. I did not have a Facebook account and was told that, that was probably what saved me a lot more problems. Since many people put way too much information on their Facebook accounts.

If a “you have won” phone call turns into this hassle what the heck happens when you are looking for work? You have no money because you are looking for work and they want your money? How does that make any sense? I think of Al Capone who employed men who were looking for work. What a nice guy hey? He helped the poor saps out by giving them work? But with strings attached. These guys don’t want to hire you, just fork over those food stamps buddy.

So when you are looking for work and you get those appointments for, Skype or phone interview before they are going to decide to bring you in, research the company before you talk to them. Are they legit, can you go to the office? If yes, do so. Check it out. Today we are our own Batman, or his butler that did a lot of the research for him. We are to become like spy’s sort of. We must do our own research on the company, gather intelligence. I have learned that a lot of them are posing as “marketing “companies. At least that’s where I am finding all of them. I mean seriously, I stumble on them a lot, why are the cops not “looking for work” and get them?

And then there is this one.  You get an email telling you to call the company and discuss opportunities. They did not state the job you applied, they did not really say much of anything, but give you a number. Problem here is when you call the company you are paying as though you dialed a 1900 number. Pay per minute on the phone, and they will make you stay on that phone as long as they can. If a legit company emails you they will say, thank you for applying for XYZ position and would like to set up an interview. Please meet at out office located at XYZ place at XYZ time on XYZ day. If at anytime the company you apply to is vague, it is a red flag.

I also urge you to go to your local job placement agency office building and talk to them about how to avoid job scams. If they don’t know what you are talking about try another place. I have met a few people who are blind to this and make many excuses, such as “that is not a real thing”. They are the ones that will be scammed down the road. I would not argue with them, just find someone who can guide you. Or even talk to the local police fraud department. Or do some more research online and gather intelligence on how to stay safe when looking for work.

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A JOB SCAM

Before you even apply for a job carefully read the advertised job. Trust your waving red flag feelings, if it seems off, it is. If is sounds strange, it is. Don’t trust the company that doesn’t give the company name, or any information on job details, is it vague? Also, I find a lot through so-called employment placement agencies that claim they are working on behalf of a “un-named” company. The so-called placement agency does not even exist outside that post you found it. A legitimate business will have a physical address you can go to, or even google map it to view the building if it states its headquarters are on a different province. (Thank you technology) If you google map it and you see an empty lot, or no such address or a house on a street, it’s not real.

Ask questions, legitimate companies are proud of their success and want to answer questions that a potential employee has about the great business they have.  Scammers are absent in the information, if you feel like they are avoiding or dismissing your questions, I suggest not perusing that “job” any further.

Research. Research. Research. I can’t emphasize this enough. As Dorothy says “We are not in Kansas anymore Toto”. It is a whole different world out there.  It will take you longer to search for jobs online, it sometimes takes me about three or four hours for one job, from researching the company to creating the targeted resume to sending it off.  Even then I am careful what is on my résumé. (more about this later) Just because a company name is on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or a job search engine like, ziprecruiter, monster. indeed, or any of the many, many others, it doesn’t mean it is real. It can still be fake! Look for the physical address, contact number, real company webpage, in the news? Look for company reviews from those scorned ex-employees. Also, I look at reviews that are a mix, if they are all perfect reviews, that seems fishy too about a company.  No one has a 100% employee satisfaction rate.

Trust your intuition. Many of us have learned to push down our intuition because we want to fit in, or not cause waves, or whatever the reason. I want you to trust your intuition, to allow it to guide you. If you feel uneasy about a job ad, let it pass, move on. I want you to be safe, happy, and find a good job. Or better yet, start your own! Whatever you decide, please follow your gut feelings.

 

WHAT NOT TO PUT ON YOUR RESUME, ESPECIALLY FOR ONLINE SUBMISSION

Don’t put on any personal information. Having said that a resume is filled with personal information. I mean the identifying type of information. Your physical or mailing address leave off. Just put your City or town name. You may or many not leave off your phone number. I have the employer contact me via email only. This is the easiest way to get a feel for the company if I am unsure before going forward. Unless I know without a shadow of doubt it is a legitimate company, then I will put in a phone number. If you have your media accounts linked to your resume, make sure your social media accounts do not have your personal identifying or locating address on it anyplace.  The scammers will scour the social media sites like a stalker to learn everything they can about you.

Job scams are something every job seeker needs to be aware of, but don’t lose hope. If you keep your wits about you, trust your instincts and follow these suggestions, I am sure you will be safer in your searching. I hope you find a great job for you, take care and be safe.

 

Have you had any experience with a job scammer you would like to share?

 

Job Hunting

Have you ever received an email from a potential employer that made you stop in your tracks and question working for that company? How the company treats their employees is just as important as how they treat their customers. If you have questions like; Did they not even look at my résumé? That information is on my résumé, why are they asking for it again? Or perhaps you thought; What are they talking about, a phone interview, and if I pass that I get to be interviewed again in person? Why not just a single in person interview? How lazy is this company? Does this company even know what position I applied for? Answer a survey and then if I pass I can have an in-person interview?

These surveys or questionnaires or personality tests are not even accurate. I read a lot about them while doing my job hunt to see if there’s any right or wrong answers. There are. When you answer, you answer on either end, either highly agree or highly disagree. There is no in the middle anyplace, and there is no neutral. Pick an end and go for it. But, some companies depend on these surveys and they don’t tell them anything about the person. You can have a very qualified, wonderfully friendly person who does not do well on tests, fail these questionnaires. They are crap, most jobs that use these I don’t apply at. Some I will bypass and go directly to the hiring manager. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I took a shot.

Now some hoops are legit if it is for a company like say the Secret Service. I could understand the phone interview, then an in-person interview, then a series of tests for physical, mental and emotions stability.  Maybe even more tests and hoops to jump through, but that I could understand if it were for a job with that type of pressure and need for specific qualifications. All the James Bonds out there need to be weeded out from the Peewee Herman’s. But if you are applying for say a fast food place, or a clothing store, or some type of customer service directed job like that these types of “hoops” are ridiculous. I understand that a company wants to find the best fit, but the turn over on these types of jobs are high not because of the right fit, but because these are temporary jobs. Most of those individuals are using these jobs as starter jobs to eventually get better paying jobs.

I am hunting for a job that will fulfill my financial needs and allow me to continue my writing and my other interest. I want it all, what can I say. I had applied at company XYZ. This company advertised online on a specialized site for that type of work.

Being a great job hunter I investigated the company quickly to decide if it’s a place that I would make a good fit. I looked at the hours of operation, the doctors that were working there and then googled their names to see if any bad review of value were ever posted.  Tried to find them on LinkedIn and other social media to get a feel for their style and personalities. Then I looked at what they were looking for in a staff / team member. I felt it was a possible match. I then developed a résumé geared toward the company and fired it off.

Since there is no way for me to interview them before the real interview, we as job seekers must wait for the interview to get a better feel for the position and if we think it would be a fit. It took the company XYZ almost three weeks to respond to my application. When I got the response, it was through email, which is perfectly acceptable. However, the email itself sent out some red flags.

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First it addressed me by: “Hi there.” This is not Facebook, this is a professional company, a business. “Hi there” is just not respectful.

Secondly: It thanked me for applying for an un-named position. Seriously? Does the company even know what position I applied for? Did they even look at the résumé or are they just replying to all the resumes and see what happens?

Thirdly: They sent the email to me at 8:30 at night. The office closes at 6 pm so does this mean they expect their staff to pull overtime regularly? This was not the bad thing, it just made me wonder if I would get overtime pay.  But what did bug me was it sent the email at 8:30 pm asking me to come in at 8:00 am the following morning. Less than 24 hours notice of a possible interview via email. Now I know some people have their emails forwarded to their phones via sms. I can’t afford this, I must check emails on the computer, not my cell. So how this works is that I check email around 6 or 7 pm daily and again around 8 or 9 am daily. I would have had no way of getting the email in time to respond to them. Therefore, it is very disrespectful of a company to only give less than 24 hours notice of an interview. So, they do this to their employees? If I am scheduled off and someone called in sick and they fired off an email to me that night, do they expect me to know or see this email and drop everything and come in? Plus, if I had to work else wear at that time am I expected to drop that job just for a possible job interview with company XYZ? Giving less than 24 hours for a possible interview is a huge neon red flag waving at me.

Fourth: The kicker, they wanted a phone interview and in the same sentence asked for my phone number? What? Did you not read my résumé? Anyone who is a job seeker would put their best possible phone contact number on the résumé. Then they said after the phone interview they will contact me and let me know if I can come in for an in-person interview. I am not applying for the Secret Service, and I am not applying for a job that is in a different country or province or state. It is not so long distance that a phone interview would be feasible and logical.

With the way the job hunting is now, it is hard to get work. Some people are forced to jump through these hoops, my questions are;

Do you think some companies are going overboard on their hiring process?

Do you have an experience in the hiring process that made you think that it was a bad idea to work for this company, but you did anyway only to find out your first impression was right?

What are your thoughts on the modern hiring system of some companies?

 

 

 

Why Write?

 

I saw a post in the LinkedIn group “Before the Ink Dries” by Don Gewywolf ford .This made me curious why writers write.

I’m a curious individual, so much so that I’ve been called a cat. I’m wondering why other writers write? Being new to this industry I have only met a couple of writers. What made you pick up that pencil, pen, or keyboard? What makes you tick, as a writer? What keeps you going?

I mean, it’s a cruel business to be in. Rejection is a guarantee. How many people would go to work everyday for a boss that tells them “We don’t like your work” or “You just don’t have what it takes to advance”? Everyone I know wouldn’t want to, they would find a different job, one that appreciates them.

Self-doubt, fear, that little voice inside always undermining every word you think or write. That thought “I’m not smart enough” and “No one reads my stuff anyway?” or “Is this post worthy?” The self-doubt is heavy, then add the naysayers telling you the same things you are thinking.

The fact that publishers will not even look at you if you are not published, yet you can’t get published unless someone publishes you. Yikes, that’s maddening. The pay is peanuts. Actually, it’s peanut dust. Some don’t pay you at all. You spend hours pouring out your soul, sharing pieces of yourself in your prose, then sell it for $25. Let’s dump some vinegar on that paper cut, that prose is kidnaped for months before you even see that money, since you don’t get paid until it’s printed. Worse, “they” change their minds and not print it, now there’s no money after waiting so long. When or if, you get a book published, you are the one who does all the work. You use your own money, (from that temporary job you do) you put in all your spare time to promote and sell your book. Then, how well you market your own book, and continue to market your book over the years; you may make some money. How’s your marketing skills and networking contacts?

So far, I have not painted the life of a writer in very good light. Painting it in the black of night I think is more accurate. When you consider all that is a “writer” it may not sound like a great career choice. The number of people who make a wealthy living on just writing is a small percentage. Is this maddening, crazy making career choice worth it? Are we just floating down that inevitable shit stream, with a ginormous hole in the bottom of a wobbly old wooden raft without a paddle? The answer I wish I could say is an absolute yes it’s worth it, but I can’t. The answer is very personal.

How much rejection can you take? How much do you want to invest of your time, finances, and emotionally? Why are you doing it in the first place? Have you forgotten why you are writing in the first place? Maybe you are unsure at this point.

I know for me I have those lows, but I write about it. Sometimes my most haunting stories come from those lows. Sometimes its just dripple on tear-stained paper. I say, write about it and keep writing. I do wish that it was a more welcoming industry choice. I wish all writers the courage to continue, only if it is what makes them happy.

So why do I do this? Originally, I wrote to escape reality; my imagination was a better place than what I lived. Over time I learned that through my stories they helped people. I love to influence people either a smile, anger, laughter or maybe even a tear. For whatever emotion sparked, I love influencing it. I want to live my dreams. Now that I am older, I must act on those dreams before I lose time, no more regrets. Perhaps this is selfish, but so be it. I’m too old to give a damn what you think of me type of thing. I write because I will not be told I can’t. I write because I want to be the best writer in the world. This will take some time, maybe 2 weeks. (I joke about the 2 weeks) I write because I want to, and I can. As I learn and grow, I want to write even more. Every rejection letter makes me want it even harder. Therefore, I write.

We can not blame the publishers for this writing game. Publishers are not bad people. It may feel like it as you have all this happening to you. But they are not these creatures with horns and a long pointy tail, smoking cigars in an expensively designed office, laughing at your work. They’re not gathering other creatures with horns and pointy tails to come laugh at your work. They are not laughing as they write that horrible rejection letter.

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“We thank you for your effort, but really you suck, though we had a great laugh at your writing. Better luck next time.” -Fictitious rejection letter #1001

 

 

 

Publishers have thousands of papers fall on their desk. (I’m not talking about the creatures with horns and pointy tails, I’m now talking about actual human beings.) When the work day is done, they take a pile of those papers home and read while in bed, in front of the TV, or maybe while taking a bath. That’s my image of someone who is a publisher. Just a hard-working individual who obviously loves to read, a lot. They’re on the hunt for the next big league writer. Publishers, I believe genuinely want to find someone to publish. So, I am sorry, we can’t hate on the publishers.

So, what makes you write? Such a personal question I’m sure. For some it’s personal and private, others it’s a hobby. Some for delusions of grandeur. I really want to know.

Each time a writer creates, they’re sharing a piece of themselves. They exposed themselves to you the reader. You are given the opportunity to peek into the mind and spirit of that writer. Why do you expose yourself writing?

 

 

Orange

Without colour our world would be so bland, what about those who can not see colour? Once class was done I started to write about each colour I could imagine. How would you describe a colour to someone who has never seen it? Could you instill a feeling of that colour? Could you show them the emotions that the colour could spark? Trying to understand the world around me, I must being able to see the world through someone else’s perspective. I show you the colour orange.

Amber Orange

When it comes to colour intensity, brag I must. My radiance impacts your body and mind beyond your control. Increase your pulse, brain waves spark, and even your hormones want to sing my praises. Stimulate bone growth with my mere presence, what colour can do that I ask you? All your 5 senses awaken; I’ll even vibrate at 473 trillion times per second just for you.

Not even the sun could rise or set without my radiant glow. I am strong, bold, creative and emotional.  I give the candle its glimmering command, to encapsulate your gaze. I am known to set your mind ablaze, creating the artist, writer, and musician. I chase away the shadows of sadness and fill the room with joy, love, and adventure.  I am a gift to November born. I am orange, not just any orange, I am the omnipotent amber orange. The orange of the majestic tiger. When you make a turn in your car, I flash brightly signalling the way.

 

Can you feel the power that orange can have? Have you a strong attachment to any colour and why? I would love to hear from you.

 

Picture by:The Irish Times

Fun Story

I posted a fun little story on my LinkedIn account and wanted to share it here. It’s just a little writing exercise that is fun, for me. I hope fun for you too. Can you guess who the “Bob” character is before the end? I have heard a few different ideas, some got it right, but I love to hear what impression people thought “Bob” was.

Eviction Notice

Mary is fed up with Bob, she knows something must be done. Bob’s constantly knocking over her pictures, erases the answer machine messages before she can listen to them. Bob turns the T.V. on or off whenever he feels like it. He’s always playing practical jokes and hiding things around the house. Marry searches for her slippers, finding one on top the refrigerator and the other under the couch.

“Bob has got to go.” she exclaims.

Mary calls her neighbour Dianna; she has a way with special people. Dianna can’t get Bob to leave. Mary thought if she makes the house smell bad he would leave. So, Mary burns all kinds of incense, candles and grasses and still he will not leave. She doesn’t want to call those guys in the lab coats, but she has no choice. It must be done.

Doorbell rings, Mary opens the door. There stood three very tall, muscular men. One man had more tattoos than she has ever seen. Mary felt a knot in her stomach, am I doing the right thing? She thought.

“Hello, you called us to help with Bob? My name is Jake.” The man said.

“Thank you for coming, I have to admit I am a little nervous. I have never done this before, he’ll be OK, right?” Mary said.

“No worries ma’am, we will take care of everything. You can even go out for coffee, this shouldn’t take long.” Said Jake.

Mary left for coffee and was back in 45 minutes. Not knowing what she will find when she comes home. She slowly enters the apartment, it’s quiet, no one’s there. She waits and listened for Bob. Nothing. She puts her T.V. on, it stays on, so she turns it off. She put her slippers beside her bed and propped up her pictures on the mantle. The next morning, the slippers are still there, the pictures are still safely on the mantle, and the T.V. is still off. Mary takes a deep slow breath and sinks into the couch as she thinks to herself, finally, Bob the ghost is gone.

 

Did you guess who Bob was? Did you think he was a mischievous cat? Or maybe a really bad roommate?