Are you looking to take the next step in your career? 

Hunting for a job can be a tricky business. Long waiting times can lead applicants—with bills to pay—to grow increasingly impatient and adopt a rather desperate mindset.

This desperation can be dangerous, as it sometimes causes applicants to abandon their common good judgment and ignore warning signals—colloquially known as red flags. The unfortunate result: job seekers are accepting wholly unsuitable jobs, which inevitably causes stress, financial troubles, and sometimes flat-out misery. More often than not, they end up back at square one, looking for yet another new job. While you can’t necessarily afford to be too picky, you need to distinguish great career opportunities from the entries on job posting sites that will waste your precious time. 

Online job postings always try to make the company and role seem exciting. If you see a job posting with any of the seven warning signs below, then watch out: It could very well be a fraud. Let’s dig in.

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1. A vague job description

A job description gives you a clear picture of what the position involves and what skills are required. This way, you can quickly determine whether or not you’re well-suited for the job.

A vague job description is a big red flag. It indicates that the potential employer is unfocused, and they don’t know what it takes to get the job done. Such a job description also means that the job will lack structured goals.

Also, be cautious about job descriptions with oxymoronic or double-barreled job titles. Double-barreled job postings seek to employ one person to fill two positions. For instance, a bilingual office administrator/ translator means that you will handle administrative tasks in the office and have to translate all the communications in the organization. 

Companies use Oxymoronic job titles to hire experts for beginner-level salaries.

2. No interview required

Did you get a job offer with little to no interview process? If so, your alarm bells should start ringing. Although remote companies might conduct online interviews, you should at least meet with someone over video chat. If you get a job offer after only emailing back and forth, you should probably ask to Skype with an actual hiring manager before you share any private data.

“Bottom Line: Never give out your financial information during an online job interview”.

Potential Job Fraud

3. No contact person or website

Before applying for a job, please do your due diligence by researching the company and heading to its official website. If you’re having trouble tracking down a point of contact or even a website, you might have a scam on your hands.

If you can’t find an internet presence, the company might not exist. It would be best if you also were on the lookout for a copycat URL — using “.co” where the actual website has “.com,” for example — and any other spelling irregularities that could point to a scam.

If the company has little internet presence to speak of, you should probably keep hunting for a more secure opportunity.

4. The opportunity has been up for a long time on job posting sites

If a job posting has been on a job board for months, it could be because the company is always looking to fill high-turnover positions. It may also imply that the company is putting the position on hold and the reasons for the high turnover are not legit. It could also be that the company is collecting resumes to gather specific information or to reuse them later.

Frequently reposted jobs are also a major red flag. It shows that the organization is unable to retain its employees for some reason. Be cautious with such positions. Employees leave their jobs for a reason, and most of the time, it’s usually a bad boss or poor working conditions.

5. Flexibility

It sounds counter-intuitive, but if a posting talks about flexibility a lot, it might be a sign that work-life balance is non-existent. It could be an indicator that nights and weekends and 60 hour weeks are the norms, and you might be required to work during certain situations you would prefer not to. I’ve heard of individuals having to step away from a death bed to join conference calls.

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Protect yourself from job scams

Thanks to online job boards, it’s easy to search for work from the comfort of your computer. But you have to be careful to use legitimate sites that carefully screen job postings, or you could end up falling victim to a job scam.

And remember that even on reputable job boards, fake postings can fall through the cracks. So it’s up to you to recognize the red flags and protect yourself from scammers.

Listen to your instincts, and don’t let desperation for a job make you vulnerable to fake ads. Otherwise, you won’t just be disappointed by the false promise of work — you could also end up losing money or becoming a victim of identity theft.