It’s been a juggling act trying to keep up with last year’s flurry of billion dollar bailouts. To avoid sinking in this economic tide publishing giants like Simon & Schuster, Random House and MacMillan are reorganizing their staff – ahem, laying off employees – as their “congressional-like” bailouts.
As these staff writers turn to freelance work to stay afloat financially the writer’s job market is becoming even more saturated. As competition for jobs among writers becomes fierce the freelance job market is an oasis of growing opportunity for scam artists.
While the Internet provides great opportunities for writers it is only scam-proof if you stay alert and look out for signs. Last month, Freelance Writing Jobs posted a warning about another website using their logo and title. While the perpetrating site has since changed their web page, it still promotes that they are “For ANYONE Who Can Write in English.” Hmm, that’s not a great selling point and it’s a major red flag.
Here are some big flake alerts. When you see these signs don’t bother to think twice before exiting out immediately.
1. SPELLING ERRORS ON THE LOOSE: If the job posting has spelling and grammar errors you have to wonder about its legitimacy. Good writing jobs seek skilled and professional writers. The way an ad is written emulates not only the type of writers they want to hire, but it says a lot about the potential employer as well.
2. CRYPTIC CIA JARGON: Skip postings that sound vague; if after you’ve read the job description and you still can’t tell what you’ll be doing – skip it. You’re not creating highly classified documents for the CIA or FBI. Ambiguous job descriptions are headaches in disguise where you’ll find yourself doing more than you should for little or no pay.
3. WORK FIRST, THEN MAYBE WE’LL HIRE YOU: Have you ever applied to a job and a writing test was required? Well, I was surprised to find out that some jobs ask writers to complete writing tests beforehand. What are clips for if not to serve as samples of your work? Most writing tests are actually real work that writers are doing for free. Once writers submit the “test” they’ll never hear anything back about the job.
4. THAT’S A WELL-ESTABLISHED SITE: Don’t fall for ads just because they are listed on reputable websites. It’s always a good practice to research the legitimacy of jobs on your own. Relying on job sites to catch all scams means putting your time and money completely into the hands of a third-party. Sites such as CareerBuilder, MediaBistro, and Monster can provide great leads. But, once you identify a job you’re interested in take over the reigns and do your own detective work.
5. LOOKING FOR WORK, IT’LL COST YOU: You shouldn’t have to pay for information about jobs. For instance, paying members of MediaBistro get access to restricted information. However, anyone can get a free account to access and apply for jobs posted on their site. Many other well-known job sites offer employment information without requiring users to pay. If you’re asked to pay for access to job listings, employee training material or anything related to the work just move on and continue to watch out for sites that ask you for money.
Protect yourself during this difficult time in the job market. Avoid making it even harder on yourself by ignoring warning signs when seeking freelance and offsite writing opportunities.