Roanoke, VA (November 22, 2013) ‘Tis the season to be hiring. The National Retail Federation has projected sales over the holidays will exceed $600 billion, and that means the holiday job market is officially in season. According to CareerBuilder’s annual holiday hiring survey, thirty-nine percent of retail hiring managers plan to hire seasonal workers this year, up from thirty-six percent last year and twenty-nine percent in 2011.
Sadly, legitimate retailers are not the only ones “hiring” this year. The holidays annually attract job scammers like shoppers to a Black Friday electronics deal: it’s going to get messy, and someone will invariably get hurt. Each year scammers attempt to take advantage of the immense job force hoping to earn some extra money by posting fraudulent and phony job postings.
Sites like Craigslist are a prime breeding ground for job offers that promise unrealistically high wages for doing simple tasks. Another common trend is the declaration that no experience is needed, that an applicant’s “motivation” and “drive” are experience enough.
Thankfully there will be tens of thousands of legitimate jobs available this holiday season and with them scores of applicants. With so much competition out there for seasonal and temporary jobs, it’s essential to distinguish yourself from the pack.
Here are a few simple steps to increase your chance of landing a legitimate seasonal job:
Start your research earlier rather than later. Figure out what job suits you best and then identify companies you would like to work for. Many companies direct applicants to their website to apply for a job, so make sure to apply there instead of through a third party Internet site.
Work where you shop. Employers want applicants who know their products well. If you shop at certain stores frequently, chances are you know a lot about the company and the merchandise they sell. This will make you an attractive choice because they won't have to spend as much time and money training you.
Be available and flexible. Holiday hiring managers are drawn to candidates who will be available and have a flexible schedule. Seasonal employees will likely find themselves working long, sometimes inconvenient hours and even holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Put your best foot forward. Job hunters need to dress their best and be prepared for the interview. This includes being familiar with the company's brand and its products. Retail job hunters in particular need to focus on impressing potential employers with their customer service skill set, including their ability to deal with stressed-out shoppers, long checkout lines and day-after-Christmas returns.
If your long-term goal is to find full-time, permanent employment, don't discount a part-time, seasonal job as a way to get there. Some employers end up asking their best seasonal workers to stay on after the holidays.
For the jobs that seem “too good to be true”, here are 10 tip-offs that the “employment opportunity” could be a scam:
1. Big bucks for simple tasks. Watch out if they promise to pay you a lot of money for jobs that don’t seem to require much effort or skill. If it sounds too good to be true, it might be a scam.
2. Job offers out of nowhere from strangers. If they offer you a job without getting an application from you, meeting you, or doing an interview, it’s probably a scam. Don’t hand over your personal information, especially your Social Security Number or credit card information to such people. This could lead to identity theft.
3. Requests for up-front payments. If someone wants you to make an advance payment to partake in a new business opportunity - especially if it’s a big investment, or you don’t have much information about the deal - this is a red flag.
4. They ask you to wire the money. If you wire a payment to somebody, it’s gone forever. Wire transfers of money are a convenient and perfectly legitimate service. But scam artists often ask you to wire payments that they are requesting (especially to destinations in other countries) because they know you won’t be able to get your money back.
5. High pressure to do it now. Don’t be in a hurry to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or to make a business investment, particularly if the other party is asking you to spend your money on the deal. Take your time and check it out. If somebody tries to convince you that this is a “limited time” offer and you have to act now, just tell them to forget it. High pressure is a common sign that something’s wrong.
6. Refusal to give you full details in writing. Ask for complete information in writing. Look carefully at any documentation they might provide to make sure it answer all your questions. If they won’t give details, or don’t respond to questions, don’t do business with them.
7. References are missing or a bit suspicious. A real business should be able to give you professional references. Ask for references and check them yourself. Even if the references seem good, don’t make your decision based on references alone. Do a careful background check; free Business Reviews are available at www.bbb.org
8. Contact information is missing or doesn’t make sense. Be very cautious if a company is trying to get you to accept a job, but seems to lack any established physical location with a real street address. A cell phone number and website address are not enough contact information.
9. They want you to buy expensive items. Be cautious if they expect you to make a major purchase of equipment, software, inventory, or information in order to get started in business. It seems like it might be a real business opportunity – but it’s not; the buyer makes the purchase and never receives the things needed to set up the business.
10. It has a bad rating with the BBB! Victims do complain to the BBB about work scams. It only takes minutes to check a company’s record with us at www.bbb.org
For more advice on finding employment and fighting fraud, please visit www.bbb.org or contact the BBB Serving Western VA at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution service, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA