I have been searching for a job the last 7 weeks. Don’t panic, I’m not going to stop writing… All year, I’ve listened to writers complain about a drop in their sales, but it didn’t hit me until May and even with advertising and publishing a NN sales are still 60% lower than normal for me this time of year. Unfortunately, my bills didn’t go away just because sales did and so I have been looking for a job. I’ve run into a couple of things that I’m going to talk about here.
I have some strikes against me as an “ideal candidate for employment” particularly I don’t think I can work in retail because I don’t think I can stand that long. And even an office job is questionable for the same reason. I work using a couch which allows me to sit Indian Style this relieves the pressure of sitting from my tail bone and hip. Days when I can’t sit this way, my pain steadily rises and office chairs are not conducive to pulling your feet up under you. I think 4 hours sitting in an office chair is probably my absolute max time wise. My other problem is I am “overqualified” for entry level positions or so hiring managers keep pointing out to me as I look for remote work that will allow me to use my comfortable office and not an uncomfortable office chair somewhere else.
Earlier this year, I did a blog post of job scams because a friend of mine mentioned the company she works for was having issues with job scams. So during my 7 weeks of job searching, I have received a ton of messages that are scams. So many in fact, that when I did get a legitimate offer I was skeptical and told the company so. It turned out the company wanted me to sell insurance and that was the “data entry” part of the job listing. I am not going to be good selling stuff… If someone tells me no, I accept it, thank them and move on and I despise when people try the “hard sell” with me. For example after 20 years, I switched my car insurance this year and the poor guy on the other end of the phone was just doing his job but he offered me discounts to lower my rates, offered to add free services, etc… thankfully it was a chat session so he couldn’t hear my annoyance as I typed I wasn’t interested and we had “ALREADY” switched to ensure we weren’t penalized for a lapse in coverage at any point. Now, let’s talk about my personal experience with job scams because man, a few have failed to raise the red flags I expected.
Within a week of starting the job hunt, I got my first scam text message. It went something like “Thank you for applying at Company X. We have reviewed your application and think you’re a great fit for our company and we’d love to do an interview. Just let us know when you’re available.” No red flags. They didn’t ask me to download a “secure” messaging app and they told me what company they were with. Probably not a scam. So I went back through the applications I’d put in and wait, I hadn’t applied for a job, any job, with that company. Big Red Flag. Then came the second text and now they wanted me to download a secure messaging app for “my interview”. I asked if I should download it on my computer so we could use the cameras and they told me “no it’s a pre-interview screening” and it would be live chat not a video meeting. Well that’s not what they originally told me, so yeah…. Eventually they are going to ask me for money or tell me I need to send stuff to them…. I’m done.
The second one did a much better job. We arranged an “interview”… a video interview. This is probably a real job woohoo! The interview was scheduled for the morning after Kentucky and Ohio experienced severe flooding in July. So at my interview time I get a text “we are having technical difficulties due to the rain.” Okay the job was listed as being in Ohio so I can buy that. We moved it to 2 pm (EDT). At the start there was video, it lasted about thirty seconds and then they had more technical issues and we moved the interview to a chat only. In that 30 seconds though, I had detected a serious accent, definitely Eastern European so I expressed interest in their background. Holy crap. They told me they were from Bosnia and their family had come over during the genocide and he’d been a teenager and just hadn’t lost the accent yet. Wow. So I worked for a health department that assisted Bosnian refugees and this guy’s story is 100% plausible and yes, coming here as a teen and living with parents that still spoke their native tongue at home could prevent him from losing his accent. Then he offered me the job… at an extremely high rate of pay. Way higher than advertised. Hm…. that’s suspicious. And now, we just need you to buy the licensing for these programs and you can start work Monday and he gave me a list of accounting software programs. uh… well… Let’s see Peachtree was bought out by QuickBooks. Microsoft stopped supporting Microsoft Accounting… These two programs are defunct, they can’t be “bought.” “Oh no, you send us the money, we have a special licensing agreement with these companies that allows us to sell licensing keys to our employees.” No… No you don’t. Nice try but there is not a snowballs chance in hell that QuickBooks is allowing anyone to buy special licenses to use Peachtree. I did not take their fake job and they did not get $300 from me for the “special license keys” that would allow me to work for them.
That scam was super elaborate. Most of them are much, much simpler. They are text messages (nearly always text messages) and go something like “Thank you for applying to our job post. We are impressed by your background and would like to invite you for the job briefing and interview. If you are still interested in this job please download Secure Messaging App X and add our hiring manager John Smith (different than the name of the person sending the text) and connect with her for your interview.” I always respond to these texts with a variation of “What company is this for?” Because they almost never say and will this be a chat interview or an actual video interview? This usually ends the conversation immediately, on rare occasions the scammer continues, I continue to bombard them with questions. Here’s a list from one of my text chats with a non-hiring manager for the position of Data Entry Clerk.
- Would it be possible to talk to a current employee who is doing this job so I can ask them questions?
- I have a week long vacation scheduled in City X (Whatever city they are supposedly located in). I’d like to conduct this interview face to face, would it be possible to do that?
- What is the ratio of female to male employees?
- I’m about to go into my local church for a special service. Would you please email me the details of this position as well as a time I can contact you via phone? (I started using this one to see how a scammer would respond, it’s been interesting. Some are “we take religious worship very seriously and will contact you after your special service if you’ll give us a time” and some are like “How often do you attend special religious services?”)
- Is this a sales position? I won’t participate in capitalist activities such as sales.
Essentially, I do everything I can except download the required app to waste their time. One of them offered me a data entry position at $40 an hour if I’d just download the app and take part in the “interview”. He seemed really annoyed when I told him I thought this was the interview and I didn’t understand how to download the app they were talking about.
Anyway, I haven’t stopped writing during my job search. I am not sure why my publishing schedule looks like for the rest of the year though. I have found job hunting slightly depressing though. I have sent out more than 300 applications and not a single “real” job offer except in insurance sales.