BEWARE: Scammers are trying to take advantage of the unemployed during this pandemic.

As many of you know, I am an unemployed Canadian citizen who has been applying for jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn for throughout 2020. I was worried that, when shit really hit the proverbial fan with respect to the Corona Virus, there would be scams coming out to take advantage of all of the people who’ve found themselves without work due to this pandemic. And, recent days have taught me that this is a rampant problem at the moment.

I received the above email this morning.

I did, in fact, apply for a data entry position on Indeed 48 hours ago. Since receiving this email, I have reported this job posting to Indeed as being fraudulent/misleading and left them a comment that I believe it to be a scam.

If you are unemployed, or have found your job temporarily suspended during this pandemic, it’s important to pay close attention to any communication that you might be getting. Being unemployed can bring on a lot of stress and often times it can be quite easy to see a promising email and not look closely at the details, thinking you need to jump on an opportunity, any opportunity right away.

Please don’t get scammed.

Using my email as an example, here are some things to look for:

  • Who is the email from? In the case of this email, who it’s from is a pretty big giveaway that it’s a scam. The sender’s name is Maggie Susan whilst the email address is MarcThomas055@hotmail.com. The job that I applied for was with what presented itself to be a legitimate Technology Company.
  • Who is the email to? This might seem like a stupid thing to check for, but in the case of this email, it’s not ‘To’ me. I am not ‘iooiioioo@gmail.com’. For privacy reasons, I am not sharing my personal gmail address. But, seeing as this was not addressed to me, and I was clearly BCC’ed, it leads me to believe this was likely sent in a group email to anyone who applied for the position, in their hopes that people would glance over who it was addressed to.
  • Who is the greeting too? A legitimate job prospect, whether with a company that has 3,000 employees or one that has 30 employees, will ALWAYS address the email to your first name. If you applied for a position, they already have your name and information. Any legitimate job seeker will say ‘Hi [Insert First Name Here]’. If they do not, it’s probably because the software they’re using to group send this scam isn’t advanced enough include your first name.
  • Who is it from? Did the sender sign their name? Is the company included? Is their a company signature linking to their website or online portfolios? A legitimate job seeker would NEVER leave their name off the end of an email.
  • Is there a sketchy looking link in the email? Of course there is. Please don’t click it. This is a bait tool to give hackers remote access to your desktop. In the case of this email, what are they asking me to register for? They have my information. If they were actually wanting to hire me, employment contracts need to be signed, and those cannot be done through sketchy links.
  • Do they name their company in their email? If they don’t, why wold a legitimate job seeker leave the name of their company off an email to prospective candidates? Perhaps because it’s not legitimate.
  • Does it make your spidey senses tingle? Because if it seems too good to be true, it is.

If you’ve found yourself without employment during this time, please know that you’re not alone. Please, please, please be diligent in where you respond to your emails. Pay attention to the small details. It might sound stupid when you read it, but A LOT of people fall for scams just like this one. With everyone in a hard enough situation already, I do not want you to get taken advantage further.

Thanks for reading.

Don’t get your hopes up. Doooooon’t get your hopes up.

I had an impromptu phone call with an Engineering firm this morning.

My phone rang at precisely 8:30 am. (After the call I googled the company to see their office hours and they’re 8:30 – 4:30) The first thing the hiring manager did when she started work this morning was call me.

Yeah, I was the first call.

Okay, that’s an assumption, but I’m sticking with it because I need a win.

I spoke to the Hiring Manager on the phone for 14 minutes. She ended the call by saying that she was conducting pre-interviews by phone all next week and that they were shortlisting and notifying candidates next Friday, March 6. She said ‘If you don’t here from me March 6th then you won’t here from me’.

I don’t put much value in deadlines people give me, that being said I did appreciate her frank and straight-forward language.

I hung up and went about my day.

A couple hours later I was at the Cancer Clinic with my mom and they called again. You’re not actually allowed to use your phone in the cancer clinic, so I had to ignore it.

As we were leaving the cancer clinic I noticed that I had an email from the firm. The email, time stamped just four minutes after I didn’t answer their phone call, was from the hiring manager. Her email said

Hello Vee,

I had a conversation with our Director of Marketing about you and we would like to interview you next week. Are you available on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday?

We are still conducting phone interviews next week, but our Director of Marketing was impressed with your resume and during our conversation about you she expressed that she would like to meet with you sooner.

Naturally, I wrote them back. We had a conversation via email and now I have an interview on March 4th.

I’m not going to get my hopes up, because there’s no point in that. But, I am counting it as win that I was shortlisted before the phone interviews were even finished being conducted.

I’m counting it as a win.

I’m not getting my hopes up, though. I promised myself that I am not getting my hopes up.

OH H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

I dubbed this the theme song of 2020

Today was hard.

Today was a vinegar and baking soda kind of day. And that’s okay. They can’t all be good. Sometimes you have to experience the bad so that you appreciate the good days that much more when they finally do arrive.

It is 8:00 pm and I’ve gotten nothing accomplished in this day. Well, not unless I count beating myself up as an accomplishment. Which… I’m not.

To address a couple of emails I received after I published my post last night, I just wanted to say that it is illegal and extremely inappropriate for a job interviewer to ask a candidate when she plans on having children and/or how many children she plans on having. One’s family status should play no bearing in whether or not they’re qualified to do a job and thus should not play into any hiring decisions.

In a society that has long undervalued women and treated them as less-than in the workforce, there is no good way for a woman to answer that question when asked. Think about it. If I answered the question, they’d presume I’d be having children in the near future and that could count as a strike against me in the hiring process. And they’d never have to admit that it counted as a strike against me. If I called them out on it, told them it was none of their business and that it was illegal to ask me that, I could come across and stand-offish with unruly behaviour, which could also count as a strike against me. And again, they’d never have to admit that publicly because they know that the average woman isn’t going to go and take them to court over not being hired.

Essentially, it’s backing a woman into a corner with no way out. And how is that fair?

When a man becomes a father, he’s almost treated as though he’s more valuable to a company at that point. He’s the man of the house, he needs to provide for a child now so the company ‘can know’ that he’s going to be a hard-working employee. When a woman becomes a mother, it’s still often treated as career suicide. God forbid they have nine months of doctor’s appointments to look after the health of their unborn child so they’ll be in and out during weird hours for the foreseeable future. And, living in a country that offers one full year of maternity or paternity leave, most employers see it as paying out an employee to sit on their butt. You can argue with me on that sentiment, but it does happen… a lot. I promise you that if you sit down and chat with a group of women about it, you’ll be surprised as to how often it happens.

No one looks at a man and thinks ‘He’s going to ask for paternity leave so I better ask him when he wants to have children’. So, why do women get asked?

Anyways, I realize that people are going to either agree or vehemently disagree on this and that’s totally okay. I’m speaking from experience, and from what I’ve heard from my friends, family members and coworkers over the years.

Same old same

Monday, February 3

Good Morning Greg,

Just checking in! Is the hiring process for this position still ongoing or has it been filled. Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks, Vee

Later that day…

Good Afternoon Vee,

Thanks for checking in.

We haven’t hired anyone yet.  Still have some decisions to make, but hopefully will have it worked out by the end of this week.

Someone will follow up with you either way.

Greg

Tuesday, February 4th

Greg phones me to ask a ‘few more questions’ because he wanted to ‘really get a feel for the skills I bring to the table’. It was a short conversation but it was just enough to keep me hoping. He ended the phone call by telling me someone would be in touch by end of week letting me know their decision, either way.

Monday, February 10th

Good Morning Greg,

I didn’t hear anything last week so I wanted to check in. How’s the process coming along? I’m very interested in this position and want to make sure I don’t miss an opportunity.

Please let me know!

Thanks, Vee

Later that day…

Good Afternoon Vee,

We hit a bit of a snag that’s delayed our ability to make a final decision. We’ll be in touch by Friday with our final decision.

Greg

Friday, February 14th

Suspecting (from experience over the past couple of weeks) that I wasn’t going to hear from them today, I decided to email them.

Hi Greg,

I was wondering if you could possibly update me. Am I still being considered for this position or not?

Vee

Ten minutes ago…

Hi Vee,

The position was actually filled on Monday and the candidate has already started with us. Good look with your career endeavors.

Greg

I don’t want to shit on hiring managers but this needs to be said. WHAT THE FUCK? Why do they do this? Don’t tell a candidate you’re going to be in touch if you’re not going to be in touch. Don’t fucking lie and say you’ve ‘hit a snag’ if you’re making an offer. Even I can come up with a better lie than ‘we’ve hit a snag’. And then to, five days later, let me know that you flat out lied five days earlier… I just…

He didn’t have to lie. He didn’t. If he didn’t want to tell me he’d made an offer, there were a million other ways he could have handled that situation. He chose to lie and say they hadn’t made a decision.

Why are candidates expected to jump through hoops for companies that can’t even provide the common decency to say ‘Hey, we hired someone’. I had four interviews with this company. FOUR INTERVIEWS. After four interviews was I really someone who wasn’t worthy of following up with?Why do they promise they’ll reach out ‘either way’ and then never reach out? Are they afraid of having to reject people? Because of that’s the fucking case they’re in the wrong job and I’ll gladly take that job off their hands. I’ll reject people all day long if it can give some job hunters some peace of fucking mind that they don’t have to wait for word that’s never coming.

It’s 2020 and ghosting is common practice in hiring, it seems.

I’m mad. But I’m not mad. I’m just… so used to this bullshit at this point. I’ve become so accustomed to shitty treatment, lies and misleading messages that if I ever found an honest hiring manager, I probably wouldn’t believe them anyways.

Why do I bother getting my hopes up when it always ends up the same?

Breaking down the language of job postings

Don’t mine me today, I’m just ranting.

They say ‘Urgently Hiring‘ but what they really mean is ‘we’ll get to you when we get to you‘. I’m completely and utterly convinced that ‘Urgently hiring’ is a ploy to collect more resumes and faster.

Under type of employment they say ‘Full time, part time, contract’ and what this ALWAYS means is that it’s a contract position. More and more companies are leaning towards contracting employees because they don’t have to guarantee their hours, they don’t have to give them a benefits package and they don’t have to guarantee them a position tomorrow, if they don’t want to.

‘Bilingualism would be considered an asset’ means that you shouldn’t bother applying for this position if you’re not bilingual. Gone are the days when marginal understanding of a second language was enough to help. If you’re not fluent, written and speaking, in a foreign language – brownie points if it’s in French or Chinese or sign language – you’re really not going to be considered.

When they say ‘We are an equal opportunity employer’ that means they prefer men, but they’re not allowed to say that they prefer men. Thus, the questionnaire at the end of every job application has appeared where you’re required to answer if you’re male or female, consider yourself to be of a minority, and whether or not you have a disability. This information is none of the potential employers business whatsoever, but they’re required to meet a quota… so, you know, they can’t meet that quota if they don’t have this information before they even bother to consider/call potential candidates.

When they say ‘must be a fit individual who meets the aesthetic requirements of representing our brand’ what they really mean is ‘if you’re not skinny and beautiful, we don’t want your resume’. Honestly, I’m not even sure how companies can get away with having this on their job descriptions… but, hey, it’s 2020 and I’m reminded of just how closed minded the world still is about beauty standards.

When they ask ‘Do you have a diving license?’ what they really mean is ‘do you have a driver’s license?’ See, this one is just them trying to throw you off. What it actually shows is that no one proof-reads their content before it’s published. Which is not the best look for a company. But… you can decide if it’s worth it or not.

When they say they’re looking for someone to ‘develop and execute social and influencer engagement strategies’ what they really want is for you to find local ‘Insta Famous’ folk to pretend to use their products. It should be a giant red flag if a company solely wants to use influencer marketing to build its brand. A real marketing strategy has a development plan that executes all levels of marketing, not just Instagram.

When they say people of all education and skill backgrounds will be considered, what they’re really saying is ‘If you don’t have a Master’s Degree, you’re not welcome to sit at our table. Because you know, it’s 2020 and that Master’s Degree means everything.

When they say ‘Thank you for your application, after careful consideration of your information we will be moving forward with candidates we believe better match the skill set that we are looking for this position’ largely what they really mean is that they haven’t even looked at your application. Yeah… I don’t think a lot of them care about the fact that you can now see on both Indeed and LinkedIn which companies even bothered to download/open your application. I get a lot of these ‘after careful consideration of your application’ emails from companies who haven’t even bothered to acknowledge my application exists. They didn’t read it. They didn’t glance at it. They didn’t even download it. I just got filed in the ‘No’ pile, immediately.

The reality of unemployment

Selling off what very little possessions you have as a means to ensure your bills get paid.

People saying ‘But why you getting rid of all your stuff?’ Well… money doesn’t grow on trees.

People say good things are coming, but damn… on nights like tonight it sure feels like nothing good is every going to happen. Unemployment sucks and I’m angry with the universe.