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Signs the Job Offer Isn't Real

Is it a real gig, or is it not worth your time?

Signs the Job Offer Isn't Real

There's something to be said about being a freelancer. Like the name suggests, it offers a degree of freedom that most other kinds of work setups can't have. After all, most 9 to 5 careers will not allow you to do work in your pajamas, right?

As great as being a freelancer can be, there's one thing that regularly frustrates a lot of would-be freelancers out there: fake job posts. You can find fake job ads on Craigslist, major freelance forums, as well as legit job boards like Monster, too.

It's painful, and if you ever have to try to have faith in one of these gigs to make ends meet, you will almost always be disappointed. Speaking as someone who has fallen for dozens of fake job ads, these are the most common signs that the job offer isn't real...

The ads (or followup emails) are in broken or otherwise awkward English.

Fake job ads aren't exactly written by Pulitzer Prize winners, you know. In the case of classic "Nigerian Scam" ones, they often will have bad grammar, poor spelling, and an overall bizarre speech pattern.

Many will have random strings of numbers at the bottom as a way to help fool copy and paste mechanisms found on online boards. They also may use archaic phrases like, "Kindly reply back with your name and number."

On a similar note, most super-casual sounding job ads are also not worth it.

They ask you to sign up for an email list, or ask you to subscribe to a job hunting service.

Ugh, this is so common with freelance writing jobs, it's sickening. Fake job posters will often use this method to get people to subscribe to a paid job posting newsletter. The kicker? Those same job postings you would be paying for were probably taken from a free site.

The amount that they are promising doesn't match the qualifications necessary or sounds ridiculously too good to be true.

Most fake job ads will tell you that you can earn $5,000 a week right off the bat or will tell you they can give you $1,000 a day as long as you do X, Y, and Z. As my mom says, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

In order to earn $100,000 a year or more, you have to work your butt off, have a lot of investments to begin with, be famous, or have qualifications that very few others have. Otherwise, it's highly unlikely you'll get paid that much.

So, the chances of you making that much money in that short a time, especially with zero experience? Well, that's pretty much zero.

The person posting the job won't meet you in person but demands that you tell them your checking account details.

I understand how bad money matters can be, and how desperate you could be to want to believe these kinds of offers. However, for the sake of your personal safety and whatever money you do have in the bank, please do not fall for it.

Most, if not all, legit freelance offers that ask for checking account details will actually be willing to pay via Venmo or PayPal if you don't feel comfortable giving them that information.

The site in question doesn't exist yet, or is brand new.

This can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, I have seen legit offers that started with fledgling sites. On the other hand, I've also worked for months on a site that stopped existing three months after it popped up — only to find out there was no intention of me ever being paid.

These days, I refuse to work with new sites unless I can get someone from that site on the phone. Also, if I find myself having to chase them down after they agree to hire me, it's generally a no-go.

The job they are advertising for is vague but totally hyped up.

This is a classic sign that they are an MLM at best and a serious scammer at worst. Do they tell you that you can "be your own boss" and "get paid what you're worth?"

Another major "hype" many fake jobs will discuss is how many people they are hiring, but how only a "select few" will be able to fill seats. This is usually a primer to get people to work for dirt cheap—or to get them signed into an MLM.

If they talk about how great the job is without actually giving you a heads up about what the job entails, run. This job will not involve anything that will make for a good career. After all, why would you need to sell a good job, and why won't they tell you what the job is?

The job offers no contact information aside from a Gmail address—and no phone numbers are ever given to you.

Many scam jobs will not involve contact information that isn't able to be thrown away at the drop of a hat. So, they'll often stick to Gmail addresses, personal accounts, or similarly hard-to-track contact information when interacting with victims. That way, they can do damage, then ghost.

Also be wary of companies that use Google voice to interview employees. That service can often be used as a booster phone, so the number can't be traced either.

They do group interviews.

Group interviews are exceedingly rare these days, with only a handful of places doing them. So, right off the bat, you should wonder if this is a real job, or if it's just an MLM ad being poised as a job.

If you get offered an "invitation to talk about a great opportunity," then it's almost guaranteed that it's a fake job. After all, jobs aren't "opportunities." They are jobs—or careers.

The hiring company asks you for money to "complete the training."

No honest company would ever ask people to pay for training, nor would they ask for money upfront for the right to work for them. If they have to have their employees pay for them, that means that the fees they're getting are part of their revenue—and it's often a large part.

Similarly, if they ask you to "shop out of pocket" or cash a check for them, it's probably not legit.

Lastly, the name of the place sounds familiar—but just a little off.

A lot of scam companies and scam jobs will use company names that sound like reputable, large-name corporations as a way to throw people off and get them trusting in the ad.

So, be careful reading the jobs you're applying to. Check to make sure it's not "Best Bye" instead of "Best Buy," and that it's "Apple," not "Pear." (Got the iCarly reference?)

Ossiana M. Tepfenhart
Ossiana M. Tepfenhart
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Ossiana M. Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of NJ. 

See all posts by Ossiana M. Tepfenhart