9 Ways of Spotting and Avoiding Scam Job Advertisements

Every email user will have received countless messages promising unlikely amounts of money in return for very little work. By now, most people are experienced enough to avoid falling for these overt scams, but unfortunately, the fraudsters behind them don’t limit their activities to highly unbelievable emails.

Online job boards are increasingly the target of these unscrupulous people. By preying on job-searchers’ desires to improve their employment, they hope to extract enough sensitive information to carry out identity fraud, or even worse, to convince a victim to part with money during a fake recruitment process. What should you look out for when browsing job ads to ensure you avoid these scams?

Do Your Research First

Once a job posting has caught your eye, take the time to carry out some essential research before going any further. Any legitimate advert should provide contact information of some sort, giving you a starting point to enter into your favorite search engine. See if the company name returns any matches, paying close attention to the exact spelling in the job ad. If the company appears to be unknown, this isn’t necessarily a sign of a scam. However, it’s certainly enough to give you pause for thought, and you should probably consider delving a little deeper.

Check for Known Scammers

Also search on the listed email addresses, telephone numbers, or contact names to see if these return results pointing to a known scam operation. There’s no guarantee, but many fraudsters lazily use the same details over and over, and their reputation may very well precede them.

Quality of the Ad

Does the job posting look professional? An ad which is packed with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or plain odd wording should set off serious alarm bells. Many job scams are posted by overseas fraudsters who have a poor command of English, while a reputable company will take great care over all their public communications.

Examine the Email Address

The internet has been around more than long enough for any serious business to have their own branded email address. If the contact is using Gmail, Yahoo, or another free service as their email provider, this should raise a huge red flag.

Also look at the domain in the email address – that is, the part after the ‘@’ sign. Enter this into your web browser, paying careful attention to the spelling, and see if there’s a real website at that address. If not, there may indeed be a valid explanation, but send an email asking for a working site address. Don’t be fobbed off with any lame excuses if the contact can’t provide one.

Overly Easy Application Process

While online jobs boards may make your job search easier, there’s little reason to expect a dream job to simply fall into your lap. If the advertisement promises a quick start with no face-to-face interview, then be wary. Depending on the position, it’s possible that a preliminary telephone interview may be appropriate, but be extremely cautious if an interview is either not required at all or will be carried out over a messenger service such as Skype or Yahoo.

Vague Job Description

If the posting doesn’t go into much depth about your supposed duties and responsibilities, then be very suspicious. A good recruiter uses clear details to weed out unsuitable applications from the outset, so a lack of information suggests they’re casting their nets widely rather than genuinely looking for the right candidate.

Low Criteria

Likewise, if an apparently well-paid job isn’t asking for any particular qualifications or experience, ask yourself why they’re advertising the position – they could surely fill it with ease without going to all that trouble.

Unrealistic Payment Promises

Of course, with any new job you’ll be hoping for a welcome increase in pay. However, if a posting promises a surprisingly high wage or salary, then tread carefully. Most employers will wish to discuss recompense in some depth before making the final hiring decision, and will generally advertise a low figure and take it from there.

On a similar note, if you’re promised that you can earn a fortune while working at home, think twice (at least). While home-working and flexible hours are attractive benefits in a job, they’re not usually the main features of a legitimate recruitment advertisement.

Use of Hurrying Tactics

One last warning sign in a job ad is when the wording suggests this is a time-limited opportunity, and you need to hurry or risk missing out. A sensible employer waits for the right employee – if you’re being rushed into a decision, it’s likely an attempt to distract you from seeing the job ad in its true light.

Things to Watch Out for When Taking the Next Step

Even if the job ad passes all these tests, there are a few more points to bear in mind after making contact and starting the application process.

– Never agree to pay any money upfront, whether this is described to you as a membership fee, an administration charge, or simply a necessary but lucrative investment.

– Be extremely wary if you’re told you’ll be given an initial payment before you’ve actually done any work. This is most likely a ploy to obtain your bank details with fraudulent intent.

– No reputable company will ask you for sensitive information such as your social security number before there’s a contract in place. If you’re told that these details are required as part of your application, then it’s probably sensible to walk away.

Securing new employment is often a difficult and lengthy process, but don’t let this blind you to the dangers of being scammed. If a job advertisement sets off too many of these alarm bells, then proceed very carefully indeed. Landing that dream job is a wonderful feeling, but being taken for a ride is anything but.

Three Emerging Career Fields For 2016 and Beyond

As the global economy becomes more and more dependent on technology, old career fields have died off while new ones have emerged. In many cases, the ones that are emerging are not only on the cutting edge of technological innovation, but are also high-paying fields. Those considering getting into emerging fields are best advised to do so now to avoid future competition. Here are the top three emerging career fields for 2016 and beyond.

Data Science

With technology now integrated into virtually every transaction, marketing channel, logistical chain and payment system, businesses are left with more data than ever before. In order for that data to be useful, however, someone needs to analyze and interpret it. This is the role of data scientists, who take the masses of data available to the average business and turn them into useful information. Though data science has been developing for many years, it is now coming into its own as a career field. Salaries for data scientists can substantially exceed $100,000 per year, and many educational opportunities exist for those wishing to get into this fascinating field.

App Development

Although apps have been around for several years, their usefulness and intricacy only continue to increase. For this reason, app development has become its own field, separated slightly from the broader fields of programming and software design (though still intimately linked with them). App development is also an interesting field because it is in demand as both a salaried position and as a freelance career, giving app developers the option to become self-employed if they wish. The average salary for an app developer hovers around $65,000. Programming knowledge can be learned at any college, university or even in several online courses, and is a basic prerequisite for this career. To build on that, prospective app developers will then need to familiarize themselves with common app construction platforms and systems to get started in app development.

Environmental Engineering

In the first decade and a half of the 21st century, a huge emphasis has been placed on promoting environmental sustainability. This has resulted in the creation of new environmentally friendly technologies, as well as a more rigid approach to everyday problems like pollution and waste management. Behind all the innovation is the emerging field of environmental engineering. Environmental engineers look for ways to make existing processes less damaging to the environment and to use new technologies to undo existing damage. The average salary for an environmental engineer ranges from $60,000-$80,000, and many colleges are now launching specialized programs for the study of environmental engineering. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is all that is needed for entry into this field.


Though there are many exciting career fields that are in demand at the moment, these three are among the most promising going forward. Data science, app development and environmental engineering are all career fields that will continue to grow and evolve as the technologies that drive them become more advanced and widespread. If you are considering entry into one of these career fields, look for educational opportunities that will provide you with a solid foundation for your future career. By getting the education you need now, you can set yourself up for success in the future.

5 Ways to Put Life Back Into Your Job Search

After being unemployed for a year or more, many job seekers become disillusioned. Their confidence wanes and doubts loom large. As the unemployment rate drops, many of those on the long-term unemployment rolls just give up.

Before you lose hope, run out of steam or lose yourself in depression, take a few simple steps to boost your energy. You can be assured that the job market will respond. After developing a more positive outlook and thinking differently about your talents and energy levels, you may just land work that suits your new outlook and complements your bank account. Try these five tips to get your search back on track.

Help Someone Else
It’s easy to wind up full of self-pity, thinking you have it worse than anyone and may never find satisfying work again. Instead, use what little energy you may have left to help someone else. Take on a fellow unemployed friend and offer to redo her resume. Brainstorm with a group of job-hunters about where they might find work. Volunteer at the local homeless shelter and counsel visitors about the services available to help get them back on their feet. The acts of selflessness truly reflect on your own talents that others can’t help but notice. And giving always boosts your mood.

Broaden Your Outlook
Many unemployed workers talk about their job loss with gratitude because it gave them the chance to try something they’ve always wanted to do. Those who always wanted to be their own bosses, for example, find fulfillment in self-employment after a job loss. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 there were 22.5 million businesses that counted the owner as the only employee, up 2 percent from 2010. Even if you just change occupations, looking for work in an entirely new industry can kick-start a second chance at success. Get excited and go back to school or start at the bottom in a new field and work your way back up to the top.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
It’s surprising how “lucky” people get when they change their attitudes. Focusing on the negative keeps you stuck in a victim mode, angry and resentful. Placing your focus on the positive things in your life, such as your health, your family and your friends ensures you’ll stay upbeat and optimistic. This kind of attitude is striking during interviews where recruiters notice the twinkle in your eyes. They want a positive, optimistic person in the shop or office, not an old grumpy-pants. Write a list of everything you have to be grateful for and review it every morning before you begin your job search.

Surround Yourself with Positive People
Just as you can be contagious and infect others with your love of life, the same is true in reverse. It’s often difficult to make yourself be happy or grateful, but you’ll find that when you hang out with upbeat people, you end up feeling the same. Get positive through osmosis by joining a group of optimistic and fun networkers and do lunch only with people who support you and lift you up. Watch upbeat movies and read motivating books and articles.

Build in Vacations
Even though you may be low on funds, schedule regular fun days and set aside time to relax while you continue with your job search. Occasionally allow yourself a whole day during which you don’t even turn on your computer. Plan a drive to the mountains or the beach and stay with a friend or camp out as if you hadn’t a care in the world. Babysit your grand-kids once a month or take in a friend’s bouncing baby a few hours every week. The breaks give you time to breathe, re-energize and remember your priorities.

Job hunting can serve as the motivating factor you need to turn your life around and enjoy satisfaction as a result of your efforts once again. Refreshed and recommitted, you will attract employers who have plenty of opportunities for an upbeat, well-rounded worker. It doesn’t take major changes to make a huge difference in how you perceive your situation and conversely, how others look at you.

3 Ways to Fill Out Your Resume Gaps

Looking for new employment can be a difficult and stressful process, especially if you are currently unemployed. One of the problems of job hunting is that the longer the actual process of looking for a job takes, the bigger the unemployment gap in your resume becomes. A gap in your resume doesn’t look good to potential employers – especially a long one. In order to avoid being passed over because of the gap in your employment record, use the following 3 tips to help fill those time periods in your resume:

Volunteer with a non-profit – Spending your free time volunteering your services at a non-profit organization not only looks fantastic on a resume, you may also learn some valuable skills. Some of the tasks you may be assigned include helping to create the organization’s newsletters, helping to coordinate fundraisers, helping to write grants and more. In addition to making your resume look good and improving some of your skills, you’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing you are helping with a good cause – and you may even make a few connections with those you work with, which could help you land a job sometime down the road. Check out your local chamber of commerce or volunteermatch.org for charities that resonate with you.

Obtain an internship – If you’re having issues with finding paid work, consider obtaining an internship. Odds are you’ll only be working part time and that you won’t be paid for your work. However, the experience you gain from interning is often well worth the time and effort. An internship can help you gain important experience, lean new and valuable skills, make connections with important people and improve your resume. If you do a good enough job to get noticed during your internship, the company interning you may offer you a permanent – and paid – position. Find internship opportunities through networking, church, association memberships, Internships.com and InternMatch.

Take classes – Taking classes is an excellent way to boost your qualifications for certain jobs. An extra degree or certification is always going to make you look good AND more qualified. Even if you aren’t going back to school full time in order to get that degree, taking classes is a great way to learn new skills, especially when they are technology-based. Knowing how to use that one computer program can be the difference between getting a job and being passed over.

These are three ways that you can fill out your resume gaps that will also help improve your skill set and look good to potential employers. If you are unemployed and are having a difficult time finding a job, strongly consider volunteering at a non-profit, getting an internship or taking classes.

Leverage Your Transferable Skills to Escape Retail Hell

If you’re working in retail as a stop-gap, or simply want a career change, you might think you’re just treading water to pay the bills. This is far from the case – a retail job involves vital skills that can easily transfer to another position. Here are some of the qualities any employer would like to see.

Retail work, of course, involves interacting with customers. You’ll be accustomed to dealing with people of all types and backgrounds, and this feeds naturally into the ‘excellent interpersonal skills‘ requirement on many application forms. You’ll also be working as part of a team, maybe even supervising or training others, and this only adds to the range of interpersonal skills you possess.

Many employers also place great value on effective time management, and on being a self starter. Your retail experience will give you a head start on this – you never know how many customers you’ll have to deal with in one shift while still fitting in your regular tasks, so it’s essential that you make the best of your time to get everything done. If your work involves any sort of selling on commission, then being a self-starter is a prerequisite, as you’ll need to show initiative to instigate a sale.

It’s a rare retail worker who hasn’t come up against a difficult or unreasonable customer. Dealing well with them is a great example of being calm under pressure, problem solving, and thinking on your feet, all qualities that are essential on your resume.

Most retail work necessarily involves handling cash, which is a transferable skill to any job as it shows that you’re trustworthy and have numeracy skills (which is a surprisingly valuable quality). Related to this is inventory control: if your manager trusts you to carry out this task, it shows dependability, and should be mentioned on your resume.

Finally, most retail jobs involve a degree of product knowledge. If you don’t know your product, it’s going to be difficult to advise on it, and good product knowledge shows that you have the ability to learn, retain, and apply information.

So, whether you thought your retail experience was of any career value or not, it’s clear that the job requires many qualities that any employer would appreciate. Make sure you highlight each of them in your resume, matching them to the skills required for the job you’re applying for, and giving examples of how each skill would make you a valuable employee.

Job Opportunities for Book Lovers

Reading books has many benefits; it’s a great way to relax, sharpen your mind, and inspire thoughtful conversation, to name a few. But a love for books and reading can also pay off in monetary ways, by opening the door to a variety of job opportunities. There are many worthwhile positions that are targeted at bookworms, and a career that stems from a favorite pastime is sure to please any job seeker. Here are six job opportunities for book lovers:

Book reviewer. Between the surge in e-book publication and the steady flow of books in print, plenty of books today need reviewing. Book reviewers get to read, critique, and rate books for a variety of media. Besides a love for reading, the job requires a keen eye, an analytical mind, and an objective viewpoint. It also takes time and practice to become a respected book reviewer, so plan to write book reviews online or for print publications without pay until you refine your book reviewing skills.

Library associate or assistant. Library associate or assistant jobs are available for those who would like to do library work but don’t have a librarian degree. Library associates work alongside librarians doing similar tasks, like setting up book displays, organizing reading materials, cataloging periodicals, performing clerical tasks, and participating in library events. Many volunteer job opportunities can also be found at libraries, with duties that might include shelving, processing, and mending books.

Writer or editor. It’s been said that the best writers are avid readers. If you read a lot, then, a career in the writing field might be a perfect fit for you. Writing jobs come in all types — from freelance writers to in-house editors to novelists — so figuring out the type of writing job you want takes time and thought. It’s also a good idea to get some training before embarking on a writing or editing career. Online courses abound for writers and editors; you can also check with a local university for independent learning opportunities.

Bookseller. Working at a bookstore can be a dream job for a book lover. Not only will you get to spend your days in a favorite setting, you’ll be among the first to see books freshly in print. Plus you’ll have easy access to books you’d like to read in the future, and a nice discount to boot. Bookseller jobs require good interpersonal skills, as you will be working with the public, assisting customers with their reading needs. As a bookseller, expect to spend your days on your feet — but also in your comfort zone.

Book publisher or packager. Working for a book publishing or packaging company is a great way to learn the ropes about how books come to be books. A job with a book publisher could be in one of many departments, such as acquisitions, editorial, design, distribution, or marketing. When publishers don’t have the resources to handle all the duties associated with book production, they outsource projects to a book packager. Book packagers act much like publishers, minus the sales and distribution roles.

Indexers. If you like details and have an eye for them, you might love a job as a book indexer. Indexers do what their title implies: they create indexes. The work is nit-picky and requires a high standard of accuracy, as well as training and possibly an apprenticeship with a skilled indexer. But a job in indexing can be rewarding; you will learn about a variety of subjects in the process, have flexibility to work from home, and be able to see your finished product in print. Indexing can also be quite lucrative.

Any of the above job prospects can make a great career path for book lovers. And who wouldn’t want to get paid for doing what they love?

The 5 Things You Should Always Do Before Quitting a Job

Choosing to quit a job is not an easy decision. Whether you can’t stand your current position, feel overwhelmed or stressed out, or just want to experience something new, it is crucial to sit down, take stock of the situation, and come up with a plan before making it official. Consider the tips below in order to make quitting your job as simple and amicable as possible.

Start Looking for a New Job Beforehand

The day after resigning is not the time to start hunting for a new job. Ideally, you should aim to have another offer lined up before quitting. There may be some emergency situations in which this doesn’t apply, but in general there should be some guarantee that you will have an available income source when you leave your current position. Networking and keeping up with contacts can make this process much easier.

Don’t Burn Bridges

As tempting as it might be to make a grand exit or tell off a bad manager, avoid burning bridges at all costs. Not only does it reflect poorly on your maturity and professionalism, but it’s a good way of losing out on potential references as well. When a new employer calls your old boss, you don’t want them to tell horror stories. If an employer wants to know why you are resigning, be honest and polite in your response.

Have a Long-Term Plan

When having a second job lined up before quitting isn’t possible, having a thorough long-term plan is absolutely essential. The sobering truth is that the average duration of unemployment is almost nine months. What’s more, quitting a job instead of being fired often means you aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. Because of this, you need to have a budget plan and several months’ worth of expenses saved up before quitting, in order to avoid finding yourself in an even worse situation.

Think it Over

Before making the decision to quit, allow yourself time to think things through and ensure it’s what you want to do. Are you quitting because of an unsustainable job environment, or just because of a few particularly rough days? Sometimes it requires looking at the big picture to realize that quitting may not be the best course of action. At the least, it will give you time to begin planning your next moves.

Give Sufficient Notice

This goes hand in hand with not burning your bridges. Always write out a formal resignation and give it to your employer in person. In most situations, you will be expected to give notice two weeks before quitting, though many professional workplaces require more transition time for a new hire. Be prepared to come to work and possibly even help train your replacement, and avoid the temptation to simply disappear without giving notice.

The bottom line is that quitting a job is a difficult decision that should not be made lightly. However, by making the right preparations in advance and staying calm and professional throughout the process, transitioning out of one job and into a new one can be made as smooth and painless as possible.

How to Deal with a Negative Performance Review

Receiving a negative performance review can leave you feeling hopeless, defeated, unappreciated, and angry. But it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world, and the way you respond to the review can impact the next one. Even if you feel that the review is inaccurate, you will look a lot better if you respond to it in a mature way. This article looks at some of the things you can do to deal with a negative performance review at work.

Clear the Air

Although this might be the last thing you feel like doing, it is important to clear the air with your boss. If you like your job and want to stay in it for some time, speak to your boss and let him know that you are serious about improving your performance. Tell him that you feel surprised by the review and would like him to work closely with you to make sure that your work improves. This may involve having a meeting with him every couple of weeks to see what areas of your work need improving, and which areas you are excelling at. Clearing the air with your boss can also help to work out any disagreements on a personal level.

Ask Colleagues and Customers for Feedback

Your boss’s opinion is not the only one that counts. Take the time to speak to your customers and colleagues and find out if you are serving their interests as well as you could be. Ask them what they feel your strengths and weaknesses are and how they feel that you can improve in your role. Being proactive in seeking feedback is only a good thing, and if more than one colleague or customer has a similar opinion, you may want to consider what they say and act on it.

Draw Up a Personal Performance Plan

It is likely that you have already been placed on a performance plan, however, if you weren’t, you can always draw up a personal plan. Take note of the things that your boss feels concerned about and take the steps to work on them. Maybe he is unhappy because you regularly turn up late to work, or maybe it’s because you have a lower sales tally than other employees. Your plan could involve ways to make sure that you get to the office earlier, or it could include going on a training course to improve your skill set. By following a performance plan you can demonstrate progress which you can show to your boss when you are reassessed.

Know When to Leave

If you really feel like your performance review was unfair, or have spent time and energy trying to change and still feel unappreciated, it may be time to find a new job. Knowing when to leave is not a sign of weakness and it could prove fruitful for you in the future. Sometimes employees are unable to change a boss’s perception of them and so leaving to start fresh in a new job is the ideal solution. Just make sure to leave your baggage behind you, and put your new skill set to good use.

5 Tips for Telephone Interview Success

More and more employers are resorting to phone interviews as a way of recruiting new staff, especially as a first step in the process. How can you increase your chances of being offered a position or at least offered a formal interview? Here are five tips to help you during that all-important telephone call.

Do some research

Just as with a face-to-face meeting, prepare yourself well before the actual interview. Ensure you understand the post you are applying for and get some accurate information on the company. Visit the company’s website so that you understand their policies and vision. This will put you in a much better position when it comes to answering questions.

Have your CV and notes close at hand

The advantage of phone interviews is that you can have your CV or resume in front of you without the interviewer knowing. You can even have your browser pointed at their website, just in case you are asked specific questions about the business.

Ensure your phone will not let you down

If possible, use a landline for the interview. Make sure you are in an area where there is minimal background noise. Ensure you keep doors closed, so that you are not distracted or interrupted by barking dogs, children playing or street noise. And clear your schedule: you do not want friends or family phoning ten seconds before the interviewer is due to call!

Brush up on your subject

A phone interview is often used to short-list individuals for face-to-face interviews, which means you may be one of a long list of potential candidates, so make sure you will make a positive impression. Know your subject, ensure that you have researched how it applies to the particular job, and take some time to refresh yourself on the latest advances in both your subject and its application at work.

Be confident, but honest

Your interviewer will ask unexpected questions, to which you may not know the answer. Be honest: you will score positive points for accepting your shortcomings and your willingness to learn. Remember that your interviewer cannot see you, and will make their judgment purely on what you say, and how you say it.

If you have difficulty with telephone interviews, it is also worth preparing as if it were a face-to-face meeting: dress smartly, go for a short walk before the interview (as if you were walking to the company’s premises) and take the call in a different room. Getting yourself into the right frame of mind can be the difference between a bad call and being offered the job. Good luck!

Top 5 Signs of a Work at Home Scam

The Internet has made it easier than ever to work from home. From travel agents and customer service representatives to computer programmers and even nurses, more and more employees are kissing the office goodbye and working from the comfort of their own homes.

From Fortune 500 companies to newly formed startups, companies are discovering that hiring home workers is good for business and the bottom line. While there are plenty of legitimate ways to earn money from home, there are also plenty of scam artists out to dash your dreams and steal your funds. If you spot any of these 5 red flags, you are probably looking at a scam.

Red Flag #1 — Vague Job Descriptions
When you apply for a traditional position, the job description contains a complete list of the required qualifications and daily duties. You should expect no less with a work at home job.

Watch out for vague job descriptions and general language. If you do not have a clear idea of what the job entails, you may be looking at a scam.

Red Flag #2 — Unrealistic Promises
You would not expect untold riches for no work at a traditional job, and you should not expect it when you work at home. If a would-be employer promises that you can make lots of money for little work, you can bet the job is a scam.

Take the time to research the pay scale for the work at home jobs you are looking at. If an administrative assistant makes $15-20 an hour in the real world, a promise of $50 per hour for a similar work at home job is simply unrealistic.

Red Flag #3 — Lack of Contact Information
Check the contact information carefully on any job site you visit. Try calling the phone number listed and make sure a real person answers, or at least returns your call. Send an inquiry by email to make sure the address is valid. Many scam artists list invalid contact information on their websites, making it nearly impossible for victims to follow up when they have been taken.

Red Flag #4 — High Pressure Tactics
In the real world, you have to sell yourself to the employer – not the other way around. Red flags should start flying if a company tries to hard sell you or pressures you to take the job.

You should also be wary if the employer pressures you to make an investment or buy a product to get started. These are classic signs of a work at home scam, and sure signs that you should take your job search elsewhere.

Red Flag #5 — Poor Online Reviews
Before you accept any work at home job offer, you need to check the company out carefully. You would not work for a real world employer without knowing what you are getting into, and that due diligence is even more important when you will be working remotely.

If the only information you can find about the company is negative, that should be a big red flag. A few disgruntled ex-employees or unhappy customers are to be expected, but if no one has anything good to say you might want to move on.