Applicants Beware!

I hope in sharing my story, some of you will avoid the same situation.

Like lots of recent graduates, by July 2005, I was freaking out and applying for any position that I was even remotely interested in. Unfortunately, using, and a few others meant, I was also unwittingly applying for job scams.

Below is a word for word email I received from “Grey Marketing Team” (to my knowledge, they are no longer in existence).

Dear Aurora,
I have recently viewed your resume online and feel you may be qualified for our Advertising Department Assistant position. We are Grey Marketing Team, a national management and marketing firm. We assist companies in maximizing their marketing dollars by developing advertising, sales, and marketing campaigns.
We are currently seeking an Assistant to our Advertising Department to help our Creative Team develop print, internet, radio and television ads for our clients. An Advertising Department Assistant’s responsibilities would include the following:
Working with in house creative team
Assisting on sets and shoots
Acting as a liaison with production companies, photographers, etc
This position offers direct hands-on experience working with clients. We offer the following:

Starting Salary of $41,600
Quarterly and annual bonuses
Top benefits package including medical, dental, 401k, tuition re-imbursement, paid vacation and holidays, and paid holidays
Rapid advancement opportunities

The person we are seeking must fit the following description of the five “B’s”
Be a self starter
Be motivated to succeed
Be willing to travel occasionally
Be a team player
Be willing to learn and educate himself or herself

If you feel this position is for you please apply online at:

Go to the “employment” section

Select the “Advertising Department Assistant” position

Fill out the application.

Once you have filled out the application completely I will contact you for an interview.

Vonda Dixon
Human Resources
Grey Marketing Team

Surprise, surprise, I applied and was granted an interview. When the HR Director I spoke with sounded really young and told me the dress was business professional, I got an uneasy feeling. But I brushed it aside. I arrived for my interview at a nondescript building in St. Louis. As I found the suite, I noticed a lot of people wearing backpacks and business suits, which I thought was odd. The suite looked like any other office suite, only everyone in the office was young, really young. I interviewed with three people who couldn’t have been older than 25.

They asked the standard interview questions and others that were really off the wall. Like about what I would like as a superpower and “my wishes.” The entire process lasted about an hour and a half. At no point did we discuss what I would actually be doing for the “company.” The interviewers talked about a second interview, which would be going out with one of their employees “in the field” for a day and that I would be hearing from them soon.

When I got home, I researched the company and realized it was more door-to-door sales and less actual advertising or marketing work. I decided I would not be going into “the field” with one of their employees for any amount of money. Apparently, soon meant less than 24 hours later. I got a call from the woman I interviewed with. I politely turned down the second interview and was barraged with “you’ll regret not taking this opportunity.”

The more I’ve talked to recent graduates in the last seven years, the more I’ve heard about these kinds of job scams. Positions like these are preying on the eagerness of young graduates and unfortunately, seem to be becoming more and more popular.

You can avoid job scams by thoroughly researching the company you are applying to, which you should be doing for your cover letter anyway! This includes a standard Google search, verifying phone numbers, addresses and general details. You should also check out the scam websites and search the keywords used in the ad. Also, misspelled words and bad grammar are dead giveaways that something isn’t right.

Similar scams include: Steel Town Promotions

Have you encountered a job scam of your own?

When humans don’t read resumes

Human Resources. The title is a bit misleading. It takes an awful lot to get your resume and cover letter and application into the hands of a real person. This is something a lot of graduates have a hard time accepting. They believe if the HR person just read my resume and cover letter, they will see I’m very qualified! But what if a person never reads those?

A good deal of initial screening is done electronically. Which is why it is so important that you fill out the required electronic forms correctly. If the computer algorithms determine that based on the keywords in your resume and application that you meet the minimum requirements for the position, you’ll be passed to step two.

Step two may or may not be a real person. It may be pitting your keywords against another person’s. If they have more keywords than you do, out your application goes.

So what’s a job seeker to do? This article from Quint Careers offers some suggestions.

  • emphasize nouns AND action verbs (examples: Coordinated marketing campaigns and special events, Managed customer database, product updates and upgrades, Functioned in a project-management role, etc.)
  • Include “hard skills,” such as job-specific/profession-specific/industry-specific skills, technological terms and descriptions of technical expertise (including hardware and software in which you are proficient), job titles, certifications, names of products and services, industry buzzwords and jargon.
  • use the employment ad for keywords (any skills or qualifications they list, make sure those are reflected in your resume and cover letter).
  • use keywords throughout your resume
  • Don’t assume a person is ever going to see your resume. The article states, “humans can make certain assumptions that computers can’t. A commonly cited example is the concept of cold-calling. People who read the phrase cold-calling in your resume will know you were in sales. But unless cold-calling is a specific keyword the employer is seeking in the database search, search software seeking sales experience may not find your resume.”

Additional tips from the article, “some employers don’t want to take the extra step of opening the print version of your resume that you’ve sent as an e-mail attachment, and others won’t do so for fear of viruses” so keep that in mind and include your resume in the text portion of the email as well. Also, don’t forget about interpersonal skills. You are going to have to interact with people regularly. These skills are applicable to all jobs regardless of the field.

Resume Gaps

Image from:
A recent tweet from BrazenCareerist made me feel better about my own resume and gave me a sigh of relief. “Gaps in your resume are a good thing if they are filled w/ interesting projects and adventures. Makes you look more interesting. #HireFriday”

As a young journalist, I followed my then fiancée (now husband) to a new state practically half way across the country. Twice. This left me with some gaps in my resume.

Some older HR people frowned on these gaps and one recruiter flat-out told me it looked so bad the company would never consider me. This comment initially left me crushed. Then I realized, I probably didn’t want to work for this company if they were willing to judge me by the few months I wasn’t working instead of the time I was working.

While searching for a fulltime position, I waited tables and I freelanced as much as I could for whoever would pay me. Mostly, I realized just how much what I did for 40 hours a week defined me. The extra time allowed me to think about what I like and dislike about every job I’ve had and answer just about very interview question possible.

I truly hope that with today’s economy, those who frowned on my employment gaps have the sense to look beyond the gaps others may have.