One of the questions people ask me often is whether or not to trust online job listings. My usual answer is to research any company before you respond to an ad. I know there are even more points to consider, so I asked Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs, to share her advice.
Guest Post by Sara Sutton Fell
Almost 3 million Americans work from home (or telecommute) full-time, and another 15 to 20 million work from home at least one to two days each week, so it’s no surprise that interest in telecommuting jobs is growing. And with that growth comes an increasing number of work-from-home job scams prowling the Internet every day. It’s estimated that only one out of every 60-70 work-from-home jobs is legitimate and the remaining listings are scams.
But there is good news – you can find legitimate, professional-level telecommuting jobs if you know what to look for, and what to avoid. Here are 6 tips for what to look for when searching for telecommuting jobs and how to spot red flags and avoid scams.
1) Use the right keywords. The best keywords to use during your search include telecommute, remote work, virtual job, telecommuting, flexwork, and any variation of those. Keywords that are most often associated with scams and should be avoided include work-from-home and work-at-home, as well as home-based job. When you’re searching online, use the safest keywords to avoid scams.
2) Know common scams. Up to now, the most common job search scams included craft assembly, envelope stuffing, medical billing, rebate processing, and other seemingly “easy” jobs for “easy money.” But now, scammers are getting more sophisticated, posing as real, well-known companies and luring job seekers with legitimate-sounding jobs. That’s why the next tip is so important.
3) Be skeptical and do your homework. Here are some research tips:
- If you found the listing on a third-party site (not directly on the company’s webpage), start a fresh Google search for the company’s name to find their careers website on your own. Search their job listings to see if the job you’ve found is actually listed on their website.
- Search for the company name, job title, and keywords like “scam” or “complaint” to see if anyone else has outed them publicly online as being a scam.
- Try finding the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website to see if they are listed and if so, what their rating is and if they’ve had any complaints filed against them in the past.
4) Don’t trust these types of job listings: Anonymous listings where the company’s name is withheld, job listings which give a generic email address (@gmail or @hotmail instead of @companyname), jobs where you’re asked to “invest” or pay to get the job, and job listings where you’re asked to give sensitive information up-front like social security numbers, bank account info, driver’s license numbers, and credit card information.
5) Use legitimate sites to search for telecommute jobs. Sites like WorkingNaked help you make the transition from a traditional office to a home office, and sites like FlexJobs specialize in listing telecommuting jobs, including pre-screening listings and eliminating scams. Whatever site you’re using, take a couple minutes to evaluate the site and see if it’s a good source. Does it have a lot of advertising and obvious scams? Do the listings use lots of CAPS and !!! $$$ punctuation? Spend time on quality job search websites that list legitimate jobs and value job seekers over advertisers and scammers.
6) Trust your instincts. If a work-from-home job listing sounds too good to be true (“make $1,000 a day while working in your pajamas!” or “Earn a $90,0000/year salary by investing $200 upfront”) it almost always is.
Telecommuting jobs exist for almost every industry and career category, and for all stages of a career, from entry-level to executive. As long as you use safe keywords to search, do your homework and research potential jobs, steer clear of warning signs, and use legitimate sites to search for jobs, there’s a very good chance you’ll soon be working – legitimately – from home!
Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, the award-winning career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance, and part-time jobs. FlexJobs pre-screens every company and job on its site, making the search for a telecommute job easier, faster, and safer for job seekers. Sara and the entire FlexJobs team telecommute from their home offices and work flexible schedules year-round.