One of the questions I was asked most when it comes to finding a remote job is ‘how do I avoid the scams’.
Like with any role you apply for, it’s good to do your due diligence before even sending a cover letter and CV, which already share a lot of information about you and your career history. We covered those initial research strategies in episodes 67 and 68.
In this episode, episode 69, we cover the more obvious scam tactics and how to spot them, and I share my tricks for assessing a job post’s legitimacy, so you feel totally comfortable with the first steps of the application process. We talk:
- Red flags to look for in the job post itself
- Keyword giveaways that scream ‘scam’
- They kinds of things that should never be requested in the initial application steps
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I’ve read somewhere that up to 60-70% of remote roles are scams, but I don’t want to believe that’s true! I think you can stick to some safe habits that I’ve listed below where you’ll find high quality, professional, legitimate roles that don’t compromise your personal information or physical safety.
So here we go.
1. Use the legitimate, paid-for job boards.
These boards like We Work Remotely charge a fee to employers to post a job, so they have a team in place to screen the role & the company, ensuring they are legitimate, professional, and high-quality. I listed sources that I use personally in episode 66: 6 Places To Look For Remote Roles, and shared a checklist of 10 things to research before you apply to a remote company in the last episode, ep 68.
Assess the job board before you start to look at their listings, see who has to pay, look at the About page and see what their culture & philosophy is.
(N.B. When you work with me 1:1 I suggest the best 5 places for you to search regularly for the right roles for you.)
2. Look at the quality of information in the job post
We talked about how to research a company before applying in the last episode but even before that, in episode 67 we talked about the quality of information about the role and the company in the job post.
Look for everything from company vision, mission and values to daily responsibilities, requirements, nice to haves, skills etc. Head back to that episode for more info about that. The more due diligence you do about a company before you apply, the less likely you’ll get caught up in a scam.
And further to that…
3. Notice how the post is written.
Is it written in grammatically correct, and correctly-spelled English? Bad grammar and spelling mistakes can indicate a scam. Legitimate job posts are professionally written and well written.
4. Notice the key words used in the post.
Some of the following keyword terms can be a red flag (but not always):
- ‘Work from home’ & ‘work at home’ – instead you’re looking for the terms that incorporate ‘remote’
- Unlimited earning potential
- Quick money
- Investment opportunities & investment schemes
- Multi-level marketing
5. Does the company have a website?
Legitimate companies ALWAYS have a website, even if it’s just a landing page. Check the domain name is correct, notice if it’s redirected and where to, and why?!
6. Do they have a company email address?
Gmail, hotmail, yahoo, and any other free, commercial email service provider emails are a RED flag. Even solo entrepreneurs have official domains and email addresses associated with their company domain name.
7. Look up the founders and the company page on LinkedIn.
Check out their connections, their network, their posts & contributions to conversations in their Activity section. Check they’re a real person with a real network. You might even find you have connections in common, in which case you can contact your mutual connection and ask.
8. Is the salary in line with market trends?
Be on your guard if the stated salary is high for a junior -level position of relatively little work. Research market salaries in your country or the company location to get an idea of the salary brackets for the role you’re applying for.
For example you can use Payscale https://www.payscale.com/ which reports on average salaries for various roles within various industries across dozens of countries worldwide. Very handy!
9. Do they ask you to send ideas, or solutions, or strategies upfront?
I saw one post where it seemed like they were just fishing for blog post ideas for free!
Decide how much work you want to do upfront. In my experience most companies want to have a chat with you first, or they send an application form asking more detailed questions about your experience or how you’d approach a certain problem.
Lately more companies are asking you to complete free online personality tests that ask for your name and email (and nothing else). Decide what depth of information you’re comfortable sharing upfront and go with that.
For one company I created a one-page strategy prior to the first interview, and got the role! It was proactive on my part, and got them excited about the what so much that they wanted to hire me to do the how. But I felt good about their vision, mission and values and the work they were doing in the world, and felt completely assured they were a legit organisation. Again, use your due diligence.
10. Do they ask for personal financial information?
Obviously never hand out your personal security information like your NHS number in the UK, or social security number in the US. Or any bank account information, personal ids of any kind, or even your birth date.
11. Do they ask for money upfront?
This should never ever happen!
12.Trust your gut instinct! If it feels spammy, it may well be!
Sometimes I’ve emailed the company directly using the contact section of their website to ask if the job post on the job board is theirs, and legit. Legit companies will reply to you. Always.
Ok, so these are my personal tricks for keeping myself and my information safe. Do your due diligence before apply and sharing any personal information. Trust your gut!I’ve put a simple checklist for you in the podcast study pack, it’s worksheet 17, so go ahead and crack that open so you have an easy list of things to check while you go through the job posts.
If you don’t have the worksheet yet don’t worry, head over here to get your copy there.
That’s it from me this week. See you next week on Thriving Empire Live!
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