If you’re currently looking for a job, the first thing people might tell you to do is look at a few popular websites that list local job openings. While these job search websites might be of use for certain jobs, depending on what you plan on getting into (professional careers or part-time fulfilling jobs), there are a lot of red flags to keep your eyes out for when utilizing these free tools online.
We aren’t going to mention any names, but you’ll see these websites pop up when you type in “jobs near me.” You’d think that such websites that harbor all the local job openings around you would be a good thing, but there are major areas of caution to be acknowledged.
1. Some “job openings” are from companies that are in the business of hiring
If you see a job listing with phrases like:
“No experience needed”
While it may sound amazing that you could be working right out of school for $18 an hour, you have to maintain some professional skepticism. Often times, when you do your research, you’ll discover that the company listing that particular job is a staffing agency. And job search websites are filled with them.
Staffing agencies are businesses that recruit people on behalf of other companies. These agencies often “hire” you to be on call, in the event that one of their clients need a new employee.
While this might sound fun, because you’ll be able to check out new jobs often, the pay is definitely misleading. Often times, these companies have hidden terms regarding duties, employee benefits, and salary. Some companies even deal with no-base (commission) salaries. The key point here is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just be sure to do your research.
2. Misleading job requirements and pay rate
Now that we’ve acknowledged that a lot of companies you see on these job opening websites are simply staffing agencies, let’s talk about the companies that aren’t. You’ll see this a lot:
Entry level job opening
Salary: $40,000 a year
No degree required
Must be upbeat
Love to be around others
Energized by the thrill of success
It sounds like an amazing gig. And what about that salary?!
Unfortunately, this is another case of it seeming too good to be true. While $40,000 a year doesn’t seem like much for a lot of professionals, that is an incredible salary for someone with no experience. Pay attention to the “Requirements” portion. Why? If a company is willing to pay you $40k a year, and only requires you to “love having fun,” alarms should be going off in your head.
Companies are in the business of making money, so they’d truly be taking a risk by paying an individual so much money a year without any real requirements or proof of expertise. You could definitely apply and see where it takes you: you never know what someone is willing to pay just for an upbeat person. But when it comes to money and business, you can’t be too sure.
3. Job turned sales pitch
This doesn’t sound right. Isn’t a good company supposed to call you back immediately if they’re interested in hiring you? Shouldn’t they be excited? Ideally, companies are pretty quick to hire those they think are a perfect fit for the position they’re looking to fill. However, if you’re applying to a company that you’ve never heard of, they’re calling you and jumping the gun to schedule an appointment, and they’re almost too enthusiastic to be taken seriously, the company you’ve just applied for might be hiding something.
A lot of the companies listed on these job search websites are cold-calling companies or ones that work on no-base salary, meaning you work completely on commissions. These companies will usually call you and get you an interview ASAP, without taking in any regard for your questions over the phone. Their job is to get you in there, so when you finally sit down for an “interview,” they can sell you on working there.
This has happened to me a few times and my relatives and friends. If a company seems too eager to meet you, it’s most likely because you’re another “lead” for them.
While some people are fine with no base salary, you need to remember how working on commission works: you only make money when you make the company money. It’s a fragile job, so ensure that you have the right mindset going into it.
4. Google even warns you
My first few interviews for “professional” jobs were made up of companies that I’d never heard of, but I figured there were plenty of companies around me that I didn’t know existed because I wasn’t around the corporate lifestyle. My mistake on not researching those companies.
Let’s look at company Candyland for a second (obviously this is not the real name of the company). You’ve applied for Candyland and you get a call back. They’re excited to hire you, and you’re immediately off the phone once the interview is scheduled. You get a little suspicious, so you decide to type in “Candyland” into your search engine.
Ah, there it is.
A MAJOR red flag to look out for: if the company’s first few listings that pop up after Googling are from job opening websites, you should go and run. Yes, that means you’ll see website titles like:
“Working for Candyland | [Insert Job Listing Site Name]”
“Candyland 28 Reviews | [Insert Job Listing Site Name]”
“Working at Candyland: Employee Reviews | [Insert Job Listing Site Name]”
Any CREDIBLE company will not have reviews for working there on the first page of a search engine. This means that this is the most traffic that they get online. Not good.
And actually READ those reviews. You might be skeptical of all the negative reviews. But read them. Why? They’ll tell you what it’s like. When I went back and read the reviews for those companies, I saw that the previous employees went through what I went through and even worse when they worked for that company. You’ll also notice that they’ll comment, “High turnover rate.” The fact that these companies are constantly firing and hiring people is not a good sign.
5. Companies use them to hide
One company I interviewed for was giving me suspicious vibes, so I decided to look them up. When I typed in their name, another company would pop up.
Imagine this: I’m trying to find Candyland, but I keep getting Chocolate World. Why is Chocolate World popping up when I’m trying to find Candyland? By doing brief research on the page of Chocolate World, I realize that Candyland is now Chocolate World, or vice versa. Why would a company change its name?
If a company is getting a lot of bad rep, they’ll change everything within it, including its name. It’s still the same organization with the same ploys, but they basically have to start anew because they’re under fire for such a terrible reputation. Big red flag if you’re Googling one unknown company and another one keeps popping up.
So what’s the solution for looking for a job?
1. Pick a company
Think of companies and brands your constantly supporting. Every business has more than just entry-level positions. You could be an account manager, a marketer, a buyer—really any position, depending on their requirements. Go for it! You might actually love going to work when you work for a company that you love!
2. Go directly to their websites
You don’t have to use those job search websites to apply to opened positions. When I was applying to jobs at Forever 21, I found a website that showed me job listings at Forever 21. It wasn’t your typical job opening website. When I attempted to apply, it wanted to charge me for using their services.
I didn’t have any money.
So I went to the actual Forever 21 site and applied there. I got a call within the week, but I had gratefully found another job before they called. I almost spent money on something I did for free.
Beware of websites that will charge you for applying to jobs.
The key take aways from this article:
- Do your research if you plan on using job search websites
- Apply to your favorite businesses first
- Never pay for something you can do for free
Happy job hunting!
We’ve got more career advice with that came from!