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  • Writer's pictureAdeleine Whitten

That job posting is BS – here's how I know

I promise you that there is no weirder mixture of both excitement and crippling stress than when you’re job hunting. Those months before graduation when you can literally feel time running out are so real, you can almost picture yourself living out of your car – and you’d almost rather take that route instead of submitting one more resume (and then manually entering everything into Workday anyway, because why wouldn’t they just look at the aforementioned resume?).

The beauty of today’s world, though, is that job hunting can be done from the comfort of your own home thanks to sites like Indeed and LinkedIn. I could spend hours browsing the web for the “perfect” position, so I can’t imagine how anyone got hired before the Internet existed.

But with convenience comes risk, and I began questioning some of the job postings I was coming across. Coming from a background in marketing, I had a lot of job postings being advertised as one thing that turned out to be something totally different. I did, however, learn a few things about how to spot a BS job posting, and I’m here to share them with all of you.

So, what exactly is this job?

Let’s talk about job qualifications. After investing years of your life into a college degree, I doubt your proudest accomplishments are “having a good attitude” or “being a rockstar” – and I doubt those are qualities that companies feel you need a college degree in order to possess. If you’re only seeing vague qualifications without any specific skills that go along with your major or what you feel the job description should require, that job is Certified BS.

The job description is another section that should be vetted for specificity. You want to feel like you have a general understanding of the position from the bullet points companies provide in the posting. And, no, you shouldn’t just assume from the job title since those can be interpreted in so many ways. This company is looking for an Account Manager, huh? But what they failed to tell you is that you get these accounts from going door-to-door, begging old women to buy your latest knife set. Probably not what you had in mind.

If the posting has somehow passed both of these tests and you make it to the interview stage, ask as many questions as your heart desires – specific questions. What’s a normal day on the job? What are the specific, skill-based expectations they have for someone in your role? What exactly will you be doing? If you’re getting answers like “it changes”, “you create your own path”, or other scripted rebuttals that are straight out of a fortune cookie, I’m sorry, but it’s BS, and you know it.

It’s just too good to be true

BS companies love to make BS promises. Logically think about it for a second: what real job right out of college is going to let you make your own schedule and become your own boss in just a few months? And if you can name just one, why isn’t everyone on the planet trying to work there? The rule of thumb here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

With pay transparency becoming more and more normalized every day (with some states even requiring it!), seeing an actual number in the compensation section of the job posting shouldn’t be an automatic red flag. However, most reputable companies won’t lead with how much money you could (emphasizing could) make. Those numbers are often “in theory” and not backed up by facts. They could also just be talking about the top 1% of their performers, which you likely won’t be in right away. And even if these numbers were true, money being the focus of the posting means there probably aren’t a lot of other reasons to stay in the company.

Numbers don’t lie

So how did you find out about this company? If you found them from a job posting via LinkedIn or Indeed, there’s one surefire way to find out whether or not this job is the real deal– check their other job postings. Oftentimes, BS companies will post several jobs with various, vague titles at one time – and they’re somehow always hiring. If this company has so many openings, it can mean one (or both) of two things:

  1. The company has a high turnover rate (not a good sign)

  2. They’re all the same job (bonus points if they all have the same or similar descriptions!)

So if you’ve already checked for all these signs and still want final confirmation that a job is, in fact, BS, it might be time to check their Glassdoor ratings. Do take these reviews with a grain of salt, though, because more often than not people are only posting when they’re angry, and it’s often situational. One thing you should keep an eye out for are similar complaints – if you’re seeing several reviews with the same negative things to say, it’s safe to assume you’ll probably end up experiencing that, too.

It seems like a scam

It’s one thing to get yourself roped into a brutal and/or toxic position that’s completely different than what you were expecting; it’s another thing entirely to end up falling for a scam that could compromise your bank details or personal information. If a company is legitimately trying to scam you, the “recruiter” will gladly answer your questions and tell you anything you want to hear – because there’s no real job to begin with.

As you’re vetting companies for whether or not a job is really want you want it to be, watch out for these red flags that could indicate it’s a scam altogether:

  1. Excess grammatical errors or typos. A few are human, a lot are suspicious.

  2. They ask for your personal information right away. Requiring you to provide your bank details, social security number, or other personal information as part of the application process (or after hire through email, text, or a website you don’t recognize) could point to ulterior motives.

  3. Your interview is done completely over chat or text. What reputable company would be okay with hiring someone sight unseen (or voice unheard)?

  4. The recruiter’s email isn’t from the company’s actual domain. Gmails, Outlooks, or domains that have unfamiliar prefixes probably aren’t company-issued.

  5. The recruiter, the company, or any other employees aren’t on LinkedIn. A surplus of private profiles could also be a bad sign.

  6. They ask you to buy your own supplies or pay for your own training. Even if they send you a check for it, there’s a very good chance it’ll bounce after you’ve already spent hundreds on *their* equipment.

  7. The entire process feels too easy. The reality is, getting a job is a long, frustrating process. If your entire experience is quick, easy, and doesn’t require any real effort on your part, it’s probably too good to be true.

Before you say it, I agree. It is ridiculous that so many new grads — and even seasoned professionals — get roped into jobs that have nothing to do with their skillset (ask me how I know). It’s sad that companies have to prey on vulnerable people in order to fill positions. But the Internet has been around for quite some time now, and it’s time we start seeing the red flags. After all, we’re the ones with the college degrees, and we’ve got the debt to prove it.

So my parting advice to you: trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. But also don’t stop believing that your perfect career is out there… you may just have to sift through some BS first.

Happy job hunting.

Adeleine Whitten | Professional, kind of

is a marketer by day and writer by night, weekend, and sometimes lunch break. You can often find her with a good book or in the Taco Bell drive-thru.

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