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A Different Kind of New Year’s Safety: Preventing Work Scams During Your 2021 Job Hunt

By Jess Szabo, Artist Cafe Utica

Parties, concerts, and other large celebrations are cancelled for this New Year’s Eve, but many other beginning of the year activities remain, including the tradition of making resolutions, setting goals, and developing plans for the coming year.

Job hunting is a common task at the beginning of every year, with the public health crisis of Covid-19 making it an especially vital task for many as 2021 begins.

Those in the arts may be especially in need of additional income, as the cancellation of concerts, house parties, and large private gatherings eliminates potential income for so many, though the impact of job loss is felt among nearly all career fields.

Bills piling up, worry about meeting next month’s basic expenses, and even missing out on those extra things we want can cause some people to jump at any and all job offers they may get. While this is understandable, it is also important to remain aware that job related scams do exist, and to be aware of the warning signs.

Red Flag #1: The job or gig was too easy to get

There are some businesses who help those down on their luck by offering them a job. Those places are wonderful, and few and far between….and the manager or owner will at least sit down and talk to the person first, then keep an eye on them that first week or so. It is also possible to get a job through a personal connection, but in either case, the job is offered to an individual by someone who has gathered some type of information about them. A job that is too easy to get is one that appears to be open to everybody. Anyone who attends the meeting gets a position selling air purifiers. Everybody who signs up at the career fair is suddenly on the customer service team. A business willing to take on anyone and everyone is likely to be gathering names and contact information for purposes other than employment.

Red flag # 2: That gig or position was too hard to get

 Some work is harder to come by than others. There are going to be jobs that will ask only for an application and resume, and some that require an interview, background check, or short test. Watch out for work whose application feels like you are already at work. When an interviewer asks you how you would deal with several situations or what plans you have for the company and begins taking extensive notes, or wants you to submit enough of your work to form a completed project, they likely have no intention of hiring you, and are using the interview process to gather ideas or even work from people without paying them for it.

Red flag #3: They ask for money

 This one is featured in every article from every blog, newspaper feature, radio feature, podcast, YouTube channel, and plain old school book that talks about scams. There’s a reason for that. It’s the biggest, brightest red flag of a work scam out there, and people still fall for it. Never forget: When you work for somebody, you get something out of it. If it’s a paying job, you should be getting a paycheck. If it’s a volunteer position, you are getting the opportunity to give back to your community. They get your skills, talent, and labor in return, not your money.

Freelancers and independent consultants can be asked to provide their own materials. If there is a dress code, you may legitimately have to purchase some extra clothing. Most of us spend some money on drinks, lunches, or snacks while we work. But you should never hand somebody money or goods in exchange for a job or a gig.

Red Flag #4: There is extreme pressure to take the job

In 2018, there was an ad circulating for a job selling credit card processing equipment to businesses. The company offered anyone who called a job immediately, making this job much too easy to get. Online reviews from customers reported substandard, outdated equipment, and former employees regularly reported they had never been paid. Those who wisely decided against any involvement in the company reported receiving phone calls and emails pressuring them to attend orientation and get started selling for several weeks.

Red flag #5: Something seems off to you, or the owner or staff gives you a bad feeling.

 This is another commonly mentioned red flag, but it is often dismissed as “new age” or “self-development” movement silliness. But the feeling that something is off or something is wrong results from your subconscious mind picking up on subtle clues. You may be noticing the owner’s tone is overly aggressive in getting you to agree to the job, or that the staff seems to be tense or scared of making a mistake, or picking up on visual clues that the workplace you’re seeing is carefully staged for visitors, all without realizing it consciously at the time. Whether you believe that particular gift to have a supernatural source or not will depend on your personal beliefs, but everyone notices details they don’t immediately realize they are picking up. Never dismiss this feeling.

 

 

Artist Cafe Utica wishes everyone a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and a blessed 2021.

 

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