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?

Resource: What Color is Your Parachute?

This book by Richard Bolles is a must read for recent graduates and anyone looking for a job or career change. It’s a practical, easy read with tips, tricks and encouragement.

In case you needed a bit more convincing that this book will motivate you to tweak your job search techniques for greater success, here are five takeaways about interviewing.

  1. How do I know if the interview went well? You talked about 50 percent of the time and the interviewer talked about 50 percent of the time. (pages 35 and 97) An interview is a conversation.
  2. Bring proof to your interview. (pages 51 and 99) For example, if you’re interviewing for a reporting job, bring your clips, even if you included them in your original application packet.
  3. At the end of the interview, ask the interviewer, “Can you offer me this job?” (page 113) Obviously you should only do this if you feel the interview went well, you are comfortable and you are prepared to hear no. Another answer you should be prepared for is, “We need to think about it,” or “We need to finish interviewing other candidates.”
  4. Respond to a rejection. If you get a firm no after you’ve asked if the interviewer can offer you the job, follow-up with, “Thank you very much for your time today. Do you know any other employers who might be interested in someone with my skills?” (page 59) Again, only ask this if you are comfortable hearing no and being shuffled out of the office quickly. You can also use this tactic when receiving a phone call, email or letter indicating the company went with another candidate.
  5. Pursue more than one employer until after you start your new job. (page 134) As in, have gone through the first full day.

These are just five of the thousands of pieces of advice throughout the book. At minimum, check this book out from the library. Mr. Bolles updates this book every year and runs a website, Job Hunters Bible. This book is an excellent resource for anyone looking for work, considering a career change or wondering what they want to be when they grow up.