There’s never been a better time to use the internet as your primary job-search tool. Recruiters and employers are turning to online job boards and social media platforms to attract candidates. If you’ve applied for a job recently, chances are you did so online.
It seems like a win-win, doesn’t it? Employers and recruiters can reach a seemingly limitless number of people at very little cost, and job-seekers can post resumes, link to online portfolios, and dazzle potential hiring managers with their LinkedIn profiles.
A third group has come along to taint the online job market: scammers. When they’re not pretending to be African princes with assets to transfer, or angry FBI officials intent on terrifying you into revealing personal information, scammers are luring unsuspecting job-seekers using fake but enticing job postings. Unlike the emails from that Nigerian prince, though, these scams aren’t always easy to spot, and can fool even the most tech-savvy among us. In fact, a 2015 study found that 20% of millennials had fallen for at least one internet career scam.
The consequences of falling for a fake job offer can range from hurt pride, to a considerably lighter bank account, to identity theft. In the worst cases, you can even be charged if the scammers convince you to participate in illegal activity. If you’re shaking your head, thinking, “I’d never fall for anything that dangerous,” consider that there are roughly 60 fake “opportunities” posted for every legitimate one. No matter how confident you feel, it’s best to be on your guard.
Recognizing job scams online requires observational and research skills. In this article, we’ll present just a few red flags to watch for before hitting “apply.”
“We found your resume, and…”
You have an impressive resume, so you’ve posted it to every available space. Your hope is that an employer will come across it and be impressed enough to contact you directly. Just days after uploading your resume to every job board you can find, the email arrives. The employer or recruiter found your resume on Indeed, or Monster, or Career Builder, and thinks you’d be a perfect fit for a specific position. One brief employment application form to fill out, and you’re on your way.
We understand: it’s exciting to receive a job offer, especially when you didn’t even have to apply, but this is the very reason you should exercise extreme caution. Scammers sift through posted resumes looking for victims, and will send emails to everyone they can, hoping someone will bite.
“Work from the comfort of your home!”
Wouldn’t that be perfect? Who wouldn’t love working from home?
It turns out that work-from-home opportunities are incredibly popular, which is exactly why you should be immediately skeptical. Not every remote job offer is illegitimate, but scammers find it easiest to work with these types of jobs, because there is less accountability. If you never have to walk into a physical office, meet with your interviewer, and take a look around, the chances are greater that you’ll overlook sketchy details.
“No experience necessary! Make $40.00/hr!”
You’ve found a goldmine. This job seems perfect. Right? Right?
The aim, as we’ve said, is to lure victims, so naturally scammers will use language designed to cloud judgment and create feelings of good fortune.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said it best: “If it looks too good to be true, it is.”
“We want to hire you—now!”
The tone of the ad or email suggests you’re nearly out of time. If you don’t pounce, your dream job will slip away! Act now!
Don’t mistake a scammer’s pushy attitude for eagerness. A real hiring manager or recruiter won’t use aggressive communication. Scammers build a sense of urgency, then use it as a hook. If potential victims feel excited and rushed, they’re more likely to make a rash decision.
“Contact our hr manger at firstname.lastname@example.org!”
Okay, so there’s a spelling error, but who doesn’t make the odd mistake now and then? The email address looks a bit odd, but maybe their servers are down?
Actually, you should never ignore spelling and grammatical errors, especially if they occur more than once or are particularly glaring. A lack of proper proofreading usually signals a lack of professionalism, as does the use of a Gmail address. No reputable company is going to use an email address from Gmail, Hotmail, or other free domains. If the ad or offer doesn’t look as though it’s been made by a professional, pass right by.
“Just fill out the attached form…”
Hmm…they want a social insurance number, a copy of a driver’s license, and banking info…seems reasonable.
Maybe not. Employers do need some sensitive information from you once they hire you, including your social insurance number, but revealing any of that information before you’ve even had an interview is a sure sign that you’re being scammed (and, no, a quick interview over instant message does not count). Scammers take advantage of people’s desperation for a job, and use it to manipulate them into giving up information they’d normally be very guarded about revealing. Next thing you know, they’ll be asking you to transfer bitcoin from your personal account to another overseas, and that never ends well.
These red flags are only the beginning. Many scammers are very sophisticated, to the point where they upload polished-looking websites of their own, or copy someone else’s in order to pose as a reputable employer or recruiter. They may spoof email addresses, impersonate real people, and use any number of other tactics to appear more trustworthy. This is where research comes in: if a job offer or advertisement seems suspicious, but there is nothing glaringly wrong, do your homework. Contact the company through various channels to verify that the job and the person you’re communicating with actually exist. Use a search engine to find out whether anyone else has been scammed by the same person or company. Investigate all suspicious details before proceeding. It may seem like an excessive amount of effort, but no effort is too great when it comes to protecting your identity, money, and reputation.
The job hunt is unpredictable: there’s no way to know how long it will take or what the results will be. This unpredictability should never be used as an excuse not to conduct the most organized and efficient search possible, though. Yes, job hunting is somewhat influenced by luck, but many unsuccessful, frustrated job-seekers are going about things in entirely the wrong way.
Here are a few reasons your job search might not be going as well as you’d like, and some ways to turn it around.
If you’re reading this after having spent two hours firing off resumes from your bed, this section is for you.
There’s a reason the phrase “looking for a job is your job” is so often spoken. This piece of well-worn wisdom has solid roots. If you approach your job search as a disorganized, chance-based process, it will lead to unnecessary stress and exhaustion.
Treat your search like a new job. Set goals for yourself and stick to them. For example, decide how many resumes you want to send out in any given week, and aim to meet those expectations, just as you would in any other job. Targets, plans, and deadlines are excellent methods of organization whether you’re employed or not.
If you structure your life the way you would if you were already employed, you’ll increase motivation even more. Avoid sleeping in, lounging around in your pyjamas, and job searching from your couch. Maintain a healthy routine, and resist the urge to isolate yourself. Make sure you’re always in “productivity mode,” so you’re ready to hit the ground running once you do receive that job offer.
Good news: DECSA’s Community Hub, which is open to the public, is an ideal place to go if you need to be productive somewhere other than your kitchen. You can work in a comfortable, well-equipped environment where free coffee, expert advice, and Wi-Fi are always available. What’s not to love?
We know, we know: networking is nerve-racking, especially if you’re introverted or shy. Social anxiety and other issues can complicate the process (we have a program for that). No matter how you might feel about it or what type of job you’re looking for, networking is an unavoidable reality. You may as well resign yourself to that fact and start giving it a try.
Networking can take various forms, depending on your needs. It can be as simple as talking to people—friends, family, former classmates—about your job search and what you’re looking for. Even the most casual conversation over lunch with an acquaintance can produce a promising lead.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can take your networking to the next level. Join professional organizations and mingle with people who work in the field of your interest. Getting to know these people will equip you with updated knowledge on your industry, including salary expectations and soft skills you may not realize are in demand. These professional networks can also help you tap the hidden job market, since many jobs are never advertised publicly at all.
Having a support system of some kind is a good idea on general principle. Knowing that there are people looking out for you when you struggle can be a relief in itself.
More good news: One of our strengths here at DECSA is our network. We have placed so many clients throughout the years that we’ve amassed a long, diverse list of contacts. Regardless of what you’re looking for, it’s likely we’ll know the right people.
Online job hunting is convenient, but it does come with one huge drawback: competition is fiercer than ever, and you have fewer opportunities to market yourself. It’s challenging to stand out in the crowd when you’re up against hundreds of applicants. People tend to apply for jobs they’re unqualified for, simply because online forms make it so easy to do so. Your application, no matter how relevant, can get buried, so it’s no longer optional: you must set yourself apart.
Application forms ask for standard information, which can be an obstacle when attempting to catch a hiring manager’s attention. The best strategy is to present standard information in a nonstandard way. Anyone can list a long series of job duties, so try focusing on your personal accomplishments instead. Did you go above and beyond in your last position? Which tangible targets did you surpass? In which ways did you improve the organization you worked with last? Fitting this information into the boilerplate application form will demonstrate initiative and personal achievement.
Most applications will ask for a resume, even if you must also fill out a separate form. This is your moment. Make it count. There are thousands of articles out there to help you craft a customized resume that will demand the right type of attention, so we won’t get into specifics here, but rest assured that a tailored resume is a must. You may even find yourself adjusting your resume for each application, so choose a flexible format. Please, never neglect the cover letter. It’s not always required, but it’s almost always going to give you an edge.
The best news yet: did you know that here at DECSA, we have resume and cover letter writing services? If you drop by our Community Hub on week days, our expert staff will help you write a personalized resume and cover letter. You don’t need to be a DECSA client. All you have to do is visit us.
If you’re looking for a way to kick your job search up several notches, please contact us. Even if you don’t qualify for one of our specialized programs, you’re still more than welcome to make use of our extensive walk-in services, equipment, and well-stocked business library. In the meantime, browse our website for more information.
Emotions ran wild at DECSA last Thursday! Ventures program clients wrapped up their six-week long curriculum, undertaking a gratifying ceremony in which many were left in wistful tears of jovial congratulations and farewells. The best part? Audience members were gifted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness splendid entrepreneurial pitches provided by none other than the blossoming businessmen and women who took on the program. For those who missed the chance to see the presentations first-hand, here is an in-depth account of the event—documenting photographs, quotes, business ideas, and raw reactions from the attendees!
What is the Ventures Program?
DECSA’s Ventures program serves people who are eighteen and older, live in Edmonton or surrounding areas, have a visible or invisible disability, and have a viable business idea they want to make happen. Those who take part are provided with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement their own small-time businesses.
The program is managed and facilitated by Sherree, along with her talented and hardworking team.
All the Help
The ceremony began with a shout-out to two very special volunteers who were integral to the program’s success:
Mona first found DECSA at a volunteer fair. She said the only agency that stood out to her was none other than DECSA! Thanks to our very own and incredibly articulate Aimee, who was able to rattle off a five-second pitch for DECSA, Mona knew immediately that the organization was right for her! “DECSA would be nothing without people like Aimee,” she said. Mona helped out the Ventures program every day and was essential to this year’s success.
Denis is a graphic designer; he taught the science of branding and logo design to the class. He thanked his mom and dad. He “wouldn’t be here without ‘em!”
Pitches from Our Entrepreneurs
These are some of the graduating students of our June 2016 class.
Kimberley was first up, and featured a very unique presentation using assistive technology to demonstrate some of the services she will be providing in her business. She’s planning on providing life & career counselling services to blind customers. Her compatriots admire her humour most; when helping Kimberley find her lighter Sherree asked for its colour. “How would I know what colour it is? — I’m blind!” Kimberley joked.
Janet was next up. Her business provides hand and machine-sewn traditional Aboriginal clothing. She attributes her greatest inspiration to her grandmother; after her grandmother’s passing, Janet was reminded of her by a blue butterfly on her windowsill. “Let them go, let them be free,” she reminisced.
Brandon took on the notoriously awkward “elevator pitch.” After reciting a 30-second pitch to Sherree, Brandon gave us a tour of his website. Brandon offers graphic design services to artists and businesses, and promises to keep the industry and goals of his clients in mind when designing their logos.
Dustin believes that safer, alternative analgesics should be available for everyone. His business plan is to provide cost-efficient and donation-driven medical marijuana services to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
Dayna is a passionate artist who desires to provide low-cost digital and printed artwork to private buyers and businesses. She is currently working to establish her company, but wishes to soon be able to help others with disabilities achieve their goals.
Congratulations to our Graduates!
Developing a start-up can be tough, but with the skills learned in the Ventures program these clients are better prepared for the challenging journeys that lie ahead. Good luck to all our graduates! Stay persistent, and remember to apply the skills you’ve learned here!
#1 Free 10th Annual Community Pancake Breakfast
Our 10th Annual Community Pancake Breakfast is coming up on July 6, from 7:30 to 10:30! As always, it’s completely free and open to everyone, so come by with or without kids to savour some fresh breakfast, join in organized games, leap around the bouncy castle, and tour a firetruck with local firefighters, or just chat with friends. And all this free fun is made possible only through donations from Northlands/Bellevue Community League and Re/Max Edmonton & Area Associates, to whom we are very, very thankful.
#2 Accepting new clients into the Assets for Success program
All summer we’re accepting new intakes for Assets for Success, a program for people with disabilities who are seeking employment. Through this program we provide employment preparation workshops, one-on-one career counselling, and direct connections to employers, so if you have a disability, you’re looking for work, and you’re between 15 and 30, call us at 780-474-2500 to learn more.
#3 Down to Earth: Gardening with Youth At Risk
This summer, youth at risk will get outside to learn skills, make friends, and receive mentorship as they plant, grow, and harvest non-GMO vegetable seeds in plots on our grounds. This is a great opportunity for youth to have fun, take ownership of a project, and reap the benefits of their efforts! We’re still looking for support to cover costs, so check out our GoFundMe campaign to learn more and donate!
We hope to find you among the faces coming in and out of our doors this summer! If you’re looking for an excuse to stop by, consider volunteering! We’re searching for helpers for the breakfast, Down to Earth, and a few other projects this summer. If you’d enjoy volunteering with us, call our front desk at 780-474-2500 to learn more about our opportunities. Enjoy the warm, green months while they last!
Lillian had been homeless for twelve years when she arrived at DECSA exhausted and discouraged. She was facing mental and emotional health challenges, and she was more than ready to find some stability. “I was broken, and I was trying to hide it, but I felt like I wasn’t worth anything,” she says.
Through our Assets for Success program, Lillian started to find her feet again. “Everyone at DECSA believed in me. They kept telling me I deserved something better, and I could get there.” The Assets team worked with her to gain several certificates and credentials that would show employers her credibility and open doors for consistent work. She completed training in First Aid/CPR, ProServe, construction safety, Workplace Hazardous Materials, Medical Administration, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills.
Then, with guidance from the Assets team, she found work as a Personal Care Aide in a group home for children, so now she is using her skills and strengths to serve kids who face challenges.
Lillian received the financial aid she needed to rent an apartment, and she has been able to furnish it through donations from one of DECSA’s connections. Now Lillian is settling into her new life.
“I get up in the morning, and I look out my window, and I’m facing a lake! Last year I was homeless. Now I am in awe, and I’ll be grateful forever to DECSA because I’d lost hope in myself and they kept telling me I could get on my feet again. They believed in me, and I feel like they gave me back myself.”
We are so proud of Lillian, who has showed herself to be brave, determined, hard-working, and very capable. Congratulations, Lillian!
DECSA is proud to announce that Aaron, a client in the Assets for Success program, has been hired at Tim Hortons; and after just two weeks, the store owner was so impressed that he increased his responsibilities. Aaron has gained a lot of self-confidence and is happy to be working at Tim Hortons. He was also able to obtain new work shoes free of charge through our partnership with Mark’s.
In addition, since coming to DECSA and participating in the program, Aaron discovered he has a passion for heavy duty equipment operating. To support Aaron’s long-term goal, the Assets for Success team has linked him with High Velocity Equipment Training and is assisting him to obtain funding to attend school there in the future.
Here’s what she had to say.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Looking at what comes in and what goes out can be intimidating. It’s the moment of truth when you find out if you are going to make it to the next month on top or if you’re going to keep spiralling down.
There are many reasons to put it off: there’s no hope for me anyways, why bother looking? Maybe if I don’t look at it, I won’t have to feel bad about myself.
The problem: if you never know where you are, how are you going to know how to get to where you want to be?
The first step to taking control of your life and your finances is by looking at where you are sitting today. The only way to do that is to start figuring out how much you earn monthly and how much you spend monthly.
Tip: It isn’t about where you are, it’s about where you’re going!
MANAGE YOUR DEBT
If we haven’t been working for awhile, sometimes our debts can start to rack up.
Be mindful of which company you are holding your debt with. Find the companies that will give you better interest rates. You will be able to pay off your credit cards faster when the interest is lower.
Also, once you find the perfect card for you, DON’T MISS MINIMUM PAYMENTS. Missing a payment often gives the credit company reason to re-raise the rates on your card! Then you’re back to square 1.
Tips on getting rates:
- Having a long history with the banks will often incentivise them to give you offers for better rates.
- Having a good credit history will make it easier to apply for better credit cards.
- To maintain a good credit history, often you just need to ensure that you are making your payments on time. Build a schedule to know when your bills are due, or have automatic payments set up on your account so that you never miss a minimum payment.
PAY YOURSELF FIRST
When we get our income, there are many ways we can look at how to spend it. Our initial instinct is to pay out our expenses first and then keep whatever is left over.
The problem: there just never seems to be an end to our expenses.
Paying yourself first means that when your income comes in, the first thing you do is set aside some savings for yourself. Then you start to allocate what is left over towards your expenses and bills.
“But I don’t have enough to put away!”
The idea here is that we build a habit of saving money. You don’t have to start off big, you can start small. The important key is starting. If all that you can muster up is $25/month, start with that! After a few months of doing that, you can then re-evaluate and see if you can increase up to another $50/month.
Now, will $25/month be enough to make your future if that was all that you did for the rest of your life? Not likely. But it will start the habit of putting money into your pocket first before you start to give it away to someone else. As long as you start putting something away for the long haul, the possibilities of where it will lead you become endless!
But why don’t I wait until after my debts are paid, or after I get a raise, or after I start to see what my budget is like at the end of the month?
A lot of people want to “wait until they are ready” to start saving money. The thing is, there is no perfect time to start. And time is our greatest asset when it comes to putting money away.
So what are you waiting for? Start today!
FIND AN ADVISOR YOU CAN RELY ON
Advisors are experts in their field; they have 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to learn about the best methods of managing and handling your finances. Their expertise and advice could be what leads you down the path to financial riches, but with the wrong advice, it could also be what hinders your financial future.
Things to look for in an advisor:
- Find someone with long-term plans to stay in the industry. Someone looking ahead into the future will recognize that if they do right by you today, they will gain your loyalty forever. It gives them the incentive to ensure they are providing the best service and advice that they possibly can. They will want to see your money grow just as much as you do.
- Find someone who meshes well with your ideals and personality. The road to financial well-being does not come over night. It is a process and you will want to walk through that process with someone who you can identify with, who you enjoy seeing, and who you know you can trust.
- Find an advisor with a large array of products to offer you. Not just within one company, but across the entire industry. The financial industry is constantly changing: the company that is performing the best today may not be the company that is performing the best tomorrow.
Our thanks to Felicia at World Financial Group for contributing to this blog post.
This week, another class of participants graduated from our Transitions program, which is for males and females (including transgendered individuals) who have experienced sexual exploitation or been involved in the sex trade.
Participants receive pre-employment and life management skills with the goal of moving into mainstream employment or education.
The program includes financial literacy, Basic Shelf cooking program, work experience, bus passes, counselling services, relapse prevention, cultural activities, Women in Motion, impacts of prostitution, relationship and family dynamics, skills development, career development, exposure courses and further education.
Beatrix, one of the graduates, took a moment to speak about her time in the program:
Coming to this program, I still carried a lot of shame and guilt. This program helped me realize that my past and the things that I’ve experienced – prostitution, drug addiction, domestic violence – didn’t make me who I was. I’m still a human being. Transitions gave me my self-esteem back.
And I don’t live in the past anymore. I’m living in the present. My facilitator here taught us that. So that’s really helped me. At first I argued with him about it – you don’t know what I’ve been through, all that. But it really made sense because living in the past can hold you back.
There’s a lot of honesty and unconditional love and acceptance at DECSA. You walk up and down the halls – the facilitators and participants and even staff in other programs, we all see each other and smile every day. And there’s kindness and there’s gentleness and there’s no judgement.
I’ve been in a lot of programs before, but Transitions has turned my life around. I got accepted to Yellowhead Tribal College. I start tomorrow, doing upgrading for the social work program that I’m going to take. I got a scholarship. I had a lot of fear about it. I still have some fears now, but that’s normal, right? Because more and more, I’m embracing the confidence and passion.
I’m not ashamed of my past anymore. I have a voice and I’m a woman who will use my past to help in any way I can. This is what Transitions did for me – I am so grateful to DECSA. And now I’m genuinely happy. Hiy Hiy!
To enroll in the Transitions program, you do not need a referral. Call us at (780) 474-2500 or visit us at 11515 – 71 Street to take the first step away from sexual exploitation and towards a better future.
Thank you to Beatrix for contributing to this blog post.
Have you ever wondered what our Transitions program is all about?
Watch our new video below to see Patti share her Transitions story and explain the program.
Click here for more info.
To enroll in the Transitions program, you do not need a referral. Call us at (780) 474-2500 or visit us at 11515 – 71 Street to take the first step away from sexual exploitation and towards a better future.
PLEASE NOTE: As of August 21, intakes for our Assets for Success program are closed for the year.
If you have a mental health condition (depression, stress, phobia, anxiety, etc) and employment is your goal, then Assets for Success is the program for you!
Am I eligible for this program?
- Albertans 18 years of age or older
- Unemployed or marginally employed (less than 20 hours per week)
- Not eligible for Employment Insurance
- Self-disclosed mental health condition
Call us at (780) 474-2500 before August 21 to enrol!
Watch our new video below for more information.