Employment Scams: If it sounds too good to be true…

“Do not apply if you don’t like great music, having fun and making tons of money!” employment scams

Yep, that’s what the ad said. In between those lines – if you’re savvy enough to read between lines – it actually said: “If you’re stupid, gullible and lazy, and won’t be disappointed when you end up not getting paid, we want to hear from you.”

Like anyone looking for a job, I check the want ads, both on-line and in print form. The ad above is indeed real. Even when I was working I’d come across it from time to time. Me, I’m old enough not to fall for such nonsense, but I’m not the type of person this “employer” is looking for. No doubt they want naive kids, probably drop outs, with no experience in the working world and little in the real world.

Their ad runs year round, which in and of itself is telling. Undoubtedly, they have a high turnover. Even the young and naïve eventually catch on and finally move on. No problem, though, since on the other end of this employer’s phone awaits the next crop of hapless job hunters.

While the above example is a blatantly obvious waste of time for anyone looking for a real job, some job ads don’t make it so easy to spot the B.S. I recall seeing a somewhat ambiguous ad offering employment in the energy sector. It claimed to pay over $800 a week. Rather than provide an email address or fax number to send in your résumé, it invited you to phone in for an appointment.

I took the bait and gave them a call.

An abrupt young lady answered and quickly gave me a time and date for an information session about the position. I asked her what exactly the job entailed, only to be told that that’s what the information session was for, and that all my questions would be answered then. Sounds a little fishy, doesn’t it. Legitimate employers don’t waste time on information sessions; typically, the candidates they see have been carefully shortlisted from a stack of résumés. I took a pass and to this day have no idea what the job entailed. My best guess is it involved door-to-door sales of natural gas for home heating. Thanks, but no thanks.

Last week I came across a job ad from a dot.com company named Hitnetworx, offering $650 a week to surf the net. For fun I tore it out of the newspaper and brought it home. The ad pointed me to their web site, where I learned that I can make money by simply clicking on banner ads. If I wanted to learn more, I’d have to register with the site.

Rather than register, I did a google search of the company. Unsurprisingly, I found many dozens of disgruntled people who’d paid this company a fee to access a list of other companies that were paying for banner ad click-throughs. Seems that all the companies on the list could be found simply by searching the ‘net, negating the need to pay Hitnetworx a fee. Hitnetworx’s employment ad was nothing more than a guise, designed to sell people a list they didn’t need.

The message here is simple. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this day and age, with such high rates of unemployment, it’s easy to become enamored with attractive and clever job ads, but it’s up to you to use your common sense and investigate further. For more information on how to spot and avoid employment scams, I suggest you read How to Spot and Avoid Employment Scams on ehow.com’s web site. Good luck.

“Do not apply if you don’t like great music, having fun and making tons of money!”

Yep, that’s what the ad said. In between those lines – if you’re savvy enough to read between lines – it actually said: “If you’re stupid, gullible and lazy, and won’t be disappointed when you end up not getting paid, we want to hear from you.”

Like anyone without a job, I check the want ads, both online and in print form. The ad above is indeed real. Even when I was working I’d come across it from time to time. Me, I’m old enough not to fall for such nonsense, but I’m not the type of person this “employer” is looking for. No doubt they want naive kids, probably drop outs, with no experience in the working world and little in the real world.

Their ad runs year round, which in and of itself is telling. Undoubtedly, they have a high turnover. Even the young and naïve eventually catch on and finally move on. No problem, though, since on the other end of this employer’s phone awaits the next crop of hapless job hunters.

While the above example is a blatantly obvious waste of time for anyone looking for a real job, some job ads don’t make it so easy to spot the B.S. I recall seeing a somewhat ambiguous ad offering employment in the energy sector. It claimed to pay over $800 a week. Rather than provide an email address or fax number to fax in your résumé, it invited you to phone in for an appointment.

I took the bait and gave them a call.

An abrupt young lady answered and quickly gave me a time and date for an information session about the position. I asked her what exactly the job entailed, only to be told that that’s what the information session was for, and that all my questions would be answered then. Sounds a little fishy, doesn’t it. Legitimate employers don’t waste time on information sessions; typically they see those carefully short listed from a stack of résumés. I took a pass and to this day still have no idea what the job entailed. My best guess is it involved door-to-door sales of natural gas for home heating. Thanks, but no thanks.

Last week I came across a job ad from a dot.com company named Hitnetworx, offering $650 a week to surf the net. For fun I tore it out of the newspaper and brought it home. The ad pointed me to the company web site, where I learned that I can make money by simply clicking on banner ads. If I wanted to learn more, I’d have to register with the site.

Rather than register, I did a google search of the company. Unsurprisingly, I found many dozens of disgruntled people who’d paid this company a fee to access a list of other companies that were paying for banner ad click-throughs. Seems that the companies on the list could be found simply by some savvy internet searching.

The message here is simple. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this day and age, with such high rates of unemployment, it’s easy to become enamored with attractive and clever job ads, but it’s up to you to use your common sense. For more information on how to spot and avoid employment scams, I suggest you read How to Spot and Avoid Employment Scams on ehow.com’s web site. Good luck.

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Résumé Writing Tips – Double Check Your Spelling #2

In my post from yesterday I discussed the importance of avoiding spelling mistakes, typos, and errors in grammar on your résumé. But sometimes those little booboos can be pretty darn entertaining. The folks over at JobMob.co.il have posted a list of the most hilarious résumé blunders ever. Here are a handful that are guaranteed to brighten your day. Goes to show you the damage a poorly written and proofread résumé can do to your chances of finding work. Enjoy:

  • “Career break in 1999 to renovate my horse”
  • Hobbies: “enjoy cooking Chinese and Italians”
  • “2001 summer Voluntary work for taking care of the elderly and vegetable people”
  • “I’m intrested to here more about that. I’m working today in a furniture factory as a drawer”
  • “I am about to enrol on a Business and Finance Degree with the Open University. I feel that this qualification will prove detrimental to me for future success.”
  • “Time is very valuable and it should be always used to achieve optimum results and I believe it should not be played around with”
  • “I belive that weakness is the first level of strength, given the right attitude and driving force. My school advised me to fix my punctuality…”
  • “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
  • “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”
  • “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”
  • “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
  • “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
  • “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.”
  • “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”
  • “You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.”
  • “I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.”
  • “Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.”
  • “Marital status: often. Children: various.”
  • “I am loyal to my employer at all costs..Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voice mail.”
  • “Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”

Okay, so who’s to say some of them aren’t fabricated. But who cares, they’re hilarious! And more importantly, they make a point. In fact, they hammer you over the head with it. Check your work. Check it twice. Get others to re-check it for you. It’s definitely worth your time. It’s also worth your time to check out the rest of these hilarious entries. You can view them all here.

Résumé Writing Tip – Double Check Your Speling!

Subtitle: How to avoid looking like an unwiped ass!

One of your first chores when you find yourself on the unemployment line is to dig out and dust off that tired old résumé. And if you happen to be ‘net savvy, you’ll likely do some hunting with google for tips on how to make that résumé sing a snappy tune. One of the first ones you’ll find, a tip that’s been around since Jesus still had “carpenter” on his résumé, is to double check your work for spelling and grammar. This holds especially true if on your résumé or cover letter you highlight “written and oral communications” as one of your most prized skills. You’ll lose all credibility if further along you’ve misspelled something or used less than stellar grammar. Even so much as one tiny typo can make the difference between being added to a shortlist and being added to the recycling bin. For instance, here’s a wee typo our Prime Minster’s office made in a recent press release:

PMO Iqaluit bumble draws smiles, frowns

By Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A bumble by the Prime Minister’s Office has residents of Nunavut alternately chuckling and cringing.

A news release sent out Monday outlined Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s itinerary as he began a five-day Arctic tour.

The release repeatedly spelled the capital of Nunavut as Iqualuit – rather than Iqaluit, which means “many fish” in the Inuktitut language.

The extra “u” makes a big difference.

“It means people with unwiped bums,” said Sandra Inutiq of the office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut.

“It’s not exactly a nice term.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Thankfully for our PM, he already has the job. Here are five tried and true tips for how best to double check your work:

  1. Don’t trust spell check. Sure, it has its place, but it won’t catch everything. For instance, if you misspell “week” with “weak” it won’t show up as incorrect.
  2. Don’t just read it on your monitor. Print off a copy and read it out loud.
  3. Try reading it backwards. This is an old proofreading tip. It forces you to consider each sentence with greater care.
  4. Have a friend or two proofread it for you.
  5. If English is your second language, consider hiring a résumé writing firm to help you cross those “t”s and dot those “i”s.

Here’s the bottom line: Your résumé represents your first contact with a potential employer. Just like you’ll want to dress up in your Sunday best and have your confident smile and firm handshake at the ready for that first interview, you’ll also want your résumé to shine like a freshly waxed ’55 T-Bird on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s all about that first impression. Do it right and you might be rewarded with a new job.

P.S. Yes, my typo in the heading was indeed done on purpose. Thanks for noticing. If, by chance, you do happen to notice other typos on my blog, please feel free to point them out (with a sinister snicker).

Toronto Hydro Job

Back in late June a close friend tried to get me into Toronto Hydro as a Material Analyst. It’s been well over a month now and still no call back for an interview. I think it’s pretty safe to say they’re taking a pass on me. Too bad – that would have been a great job with super benefits. I have no doubt I would have shined there. The problem is, they likely had a number of applicants with direct Material Analyst experience. It’s unrealistic to expect them to pass on people with experience and education in that field for someone who can only offer transferable skills and a solid work ethic. When I was hiring people I would always shortlist those who had direct experience over those with more generalized skills. I probably missed out on some quality hires myself, but when you’re dealing with dozens of résumés you don’t have time to vet every one of them. Your shortlist is created based on those with résumés that closely match what you’re looking for. That’s why it’s so important to tweak your résumé and cover letter to each position you are applying for. Sending a generic résumé just won’t cut it in this day and age. HR people are busy and just don’t have the time to give you a chance. Me, I spend a lot of time working on my résumé and cover letter for each job I apply to. It’s onerous, but necessary, if you want to get back to work.

The Hunt Continues…

Well, it’s been a while since I was laid off and still no work. I’ve been applying for jobs here and there, but I’m not getting any bites. Last week, however, I applied for a sales job with an office furniture company and was quickly called in for an interview. Hurray! After the interview my excitement at the prospect of returning to work diminished somewhat. The job was straight commission, with no benefits and two weeks vacation. Well, straight commish might not be a fair statement, as there was a draw on commission. So, during the slow months you go into debt with the company and when it gets busy your commissions go toward paying back that debt. I have a friend in the industry who tells me office furniture sales are pretty much stagnant. That fact, coupled to no benefits, makes the job somewhat unappealing. After careful consideration over the weekend, I called them on Monday to tell them I’d be going in a different direction. I’m really starting to re-evaluate the idea of getting back into sales. I think something in project management would be a better fit for me. I love problem solving and am very analytical, both important skills in that field.