We all know that the job market is tough at the moment, especially for new college graduates. Despite all the hype about full employment and a booming economy, ask any new Graduate out there how easy it is getting that first job. They will tell you a different story. The student debt is staring at them and they are working full time just finding a job. In the meantime the scammers are preying on them, left, right and center. This is my story.
I can usually sniff them out just by researching the company. I am constantly being bombarded with pyramid schemes and fake jobs, they seem desperate to immediately hire me. I was used to this in college, as the scammers preyed on students. But when I graduated I thought great now I can go to the big girl sites like LinkedIn and find my dream job. I worked all through college in Digital Marketing part time and did an Internship in Social Media and SEO for 3 months. I thought I would be snapped up as I was applying for entry level Digital Marketing jobs!!…Sadly I was wrong. The scammers are on LinkedIn too with the same goal of finding gullible desperate graduates they can rope into their scams. Don’t get me wrong if you want to work for pyramid scheme fine that is your business but that is never how they advertise it and its that deception that is the most egregious. I can also sense them now right away due to that desperation to hire me and I know enough about business to understand that is not normal. They start to look very obvious after a few incidents and there are more than a few.
I had one recruiter contact me off of LinkedIn about a “Virtual Assistant” job. I checked out the profile of the guy who sent it to me and he was a chef for some prominent hotel chain. I found it a bit random and odd. I sent him my resume, skeptically. Believe it or not, I got an email telling me that I was hired right on the spot. The email he sent me looked like a James Bond mission.
Do not trust jobs that hire you right on the spot, based simply on your resume.
I count my lucky stars that I have enough common sense not to fall for these scams. Sadly there was one scam recently that I fell for, and so did so many others; as evidenced by the number of people at the interview. On Friday, I was contacted by a company, let’s call them “Scamball Inc.”, about an account manager job I had easy-applied to. I was told I was a top-tier candidate. My resume was a good fit for the job description especially the bit about new graduates, so I didn’t find it too suspicious at the time. A woman at the front desk, who claimed to be the HR manager, contacted me via email. I was told that I could only come in on Monday morning. They had time slots at 7:45 AM, 8 AM or 8:45 AM. I chose 8:45 AM, as the hiring manager would be conducting the last slots of interviews before moving on to the second round. She told me to dress in business casual attire and to bring a hard copy of my resume. Getting an in-person interview so fast seemed unusually…..nice? First red flag went off.
I got dressed up that morning, so excited to go to an interview. I drove out to North Hollywood, to a building which was shared with a Chase Bank. I got into the building and went to the office suite number. I noticed on the sign on the first floor of the building, that a company that had previously contacted about a job offer, let’s call them “BS Incorporated”, was in the same suite as Scamball Inc.. In fact, the sign on the first floor didn’t even say “Scamball Inc.”. I saw that as second red flag. But I was here all dressed up with makeup perfect, heels not too uncomfortable so I soldiered on. I had recognized the company name “BS Incorporated”, they had contacted me before about being selected for an interview about an events coordinator position, but they had never gotten back to me. It was at the same address as Scamball Inc. This seemed…….odd?..The red flags are starting to pile up now. In fact I had to duck to avoid them hitting me on the side of the head.
The front office was playing loud trance music. There were two main interview rooms connected to the front office and a conference room. I could hear party music playing distantly in another room in an office. I wondered where all of the offices were.
I was taken into an interview room with one other person. The Company rep was talking fast about how they work with AT&T and that they provide growth opportunities, which could give you more than a six-figure salary in less than a year. He asked if we had customer service and marketing experience, he completely rushed through the interview. I knew right then and there it was fishy. I got such creepy vibes from the place. The woman at the front was constantly calling person after person, delivering the same spiel about how they were a “top tier” candidate. She called each person about completely different types of jobs, mostly revolving about sports marketing and events promotions. They were all “top tier”
I was very uncomfortable with the “Interview” , I got such weird bad vibes from the place. I couldn’t shake it off. They told me as I left that I would get a call at the end of the day if I was selected for the second round of interviews.
I was called that day at 4:30 PM, I was told that the hiring manager was so excited about me and that I was selected for a second-round interview. I was scheduled to go in there the next day at 9:45 AM. I thought it was weird that he was super excited about me. He barely spoke to me. He just seemed to fast-talk us into a pitch about “the job”. I just got that feeling that the woman said that the hiring manager was “super-excited” about everybody.
To be honest, being unemployed has been so boring for me. It was nice to put on business clothes and get out of the house. I went back out there the next day. I knew it was fishy but in a weird way, it was nice to get out and do interviews.
I came in with a man who showed me how to get into the building from the confusing parking structure. I presume he worked there. He asked me where I was going, I said “Scamball Inc.”. He was confused as to what that was.
The lady at the front desk barely recognized me when I came in. The hiring manager I met up with the previous day could barely recognize me as well. So much for being “So excited about me”.
The lady at the front desk, kept on calling on person after person with the same spiel about how they were a top-tier candidate. She kept calling people about “entertainment marketing” and “sports marketing” jobs, two buzzwords known for marketing scams in job hunting. She was telling them that the hiring manager could only speak to them the next day in the same 7:45 AM, 8 AM or 8:45 AM time slots. The same nonsense she pulled with me.
Depending on who came in, the lady at reception would say that she was with either “Scamball” or “BS Incorporated”. There were about a dozen people in the waiting room, waiting for interviews. Some workers there would come out saying that they were with BS incorporated, others with Scamball inc. How the HR people keep track of the candidates and the company they specifically applied for mystifies me. There was certainly no feeling that they even knew who we were. We were just a herd of young people that they were hoping would yield some employees for jobs they never actually applied for.
I was then taken to a nearby coffee shop with two young people. I was told that they would explain everything to me. They gave me a huge speech about how they are a direct-marketing firm. They explained how with indirect marketing you do not know what kind of results you are getting. A billboard campaign does drive direct, identifiable results. He then explained how they target existing customers of AT&T by going directly door-to-door. Are they kidding me? I suppose they are probably just trying to get you to sell AT&T U-verse. Now as you can imagine the red flag finally did hit me on the side of the head. Imagine, walking around neighborhoods in the LA summer (not to mention the safety issues this might pose for a young woman).
I told them that I had applied for an account coordinator position. They said that when I moved up, in about a couple of months, I would have that type of position. They said that within a year I could move up to a managerial position and eventually open my own firm. I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the audacity of their nonsensical pitch.
I politely stated that I wasn’t the type of person they were looking for. They said that was okay and they walked me back to the office. They seemed like they were used to people not being down for it. I felt awkward walking back to the office with them, but I needed parking validation gosh darn it! I was told the previous day by the lady at the front desk that she would have parking validation. Of course, she didn’t have any. I should have known better than to ask.
I decided on the way back that I would not focus on being angry. I decided to use it as a learning experience and to look on the bright side, at least I got out of the apartment and was out doing something, instead of sitting in my apartment applying for jobs all day. I do want to use this experience to inform more people and make them aware of these job scams.
I decided not to use the companies’ real names, as they will probably change their names again within a couple weeks anyways. Are they a pyramid scheme? Felt like that to me. Do I know that for sure? Nope. But they were definitely using extremely deceptive hiring practices. Sure, it’s probably not technically lying as it is a growth opportunity. Last night, I searched both Scamball Inc. and BS Incorporated jobs on LinkedIn. They all had easy-apply postings in PR and marketing, using vague job descriptions. They often had no more than 3 applicants, which is extremely unusual for easy-apply jobs.
I checked out Reddit, looking for others who have been victims of these scams. One told me that she was called in for an “entry level PR job”. She was later stuck selling coupon books. There have been others who have fallen for these traps.
I heard that a lot of job applications requesting “RECENT GRADUATES” are usually similar scams. This job posting asked for “RECENT ADVERTISING GRADUATES”. “Entertainment” and “sports” marketing are often used as buzzwords to lure millennials. They know many of us dream of marketing positions in entertainment and sports. In reality, entertainment and sports marketing jobs are extremely difficult to come by. You should be suspicious when people call you in for these types of jobs immediately. Or proceed with caution, don’t get too excited you might not get parking validation either.
As a job seeker, you are vulnerable to be preyed upon in these ways. Many young graduates are naive and desperate. These unethical Companies prey on our insecurities, our huge student loans, the fact that even at “full employment” it is still very difficult to land that first job out of school.
The majority of companies have hundreds of online applicants. If you are lucky enough to be chosen to move forward in their hiring process, you usually do a phone interview first. Being called in for an in-person interview so quickly is very….”nice”. It seems like it is mostly small companies that will have you in to do an in-person interview so quickly. It was a breath of fresh air as a job-hopeful to have a company want me to come in so quickly. This is what these companies prey on. Hope, desperation. And a lack of life experience.
It is easy to be suckered into these scams as a new graduate. It can be difficult to turn away from a job opportunity. No matter how odd the opportunity seems, if you get a bad gut feeling, don’t ignore it. If something feels off to you, trust your intuition and approach new situations with an air of skepticism. But do not give up hope we will get our jobs eventually and we will thrive. I am so glad I do not have a student loan I simply cannot imagine how much more stressful this would be if I had a pile of debt in front of me.