When Brian, a recent college grad, applied for a copywriting job with a furniture manufacturer last year, he got more than he bargained for.
Although the online ad he answered and the manufacturer's Web site depicted "an innocuous foam furniture company," the e-mail asking Brian to come in for an interview revealed that the company also produced a line of sex furniture, complete with its own site of softcore demo videos. Barely scraping by on unemployment and in dire need of a paycheck, Brian decided he'd keep an open mind and give the gig a chance.
On the day of the interview, Brian was greeted by a collection of Playboys neatly arranged on a table in the lobby. He was then handed a catalog full of naked models by the receptionist, who he recognized as one of the actresses doing naked demos of the furniture online.
In the meeting with the executive that followed -- held in plain view of a 15-foot glass display case of, well, erotic aids -- Brian learned that the job primarily consisted of writing product descriptions of sex toys, furniture and accessories.
"I somehow maintained a professional demeanor and even managed to ask a few thoughtful follow-up questions," said Brian, who's a firm believer in getting interview practice and was more amused than annoyed by the situation. "But I thought about my parents explaining to their friends what I did for a living and realized I could never seriously accept an offer unless it paid a ton."
Sadly, get-rich-quick, work-at-home and identity theft scams aren't the only chaff crowding the job boards. Countless job seekers have wasted their time chasing after a position that didn't pay, didn't exist or, as in Brian's case, didn't at all resemble its online listing.
Herewith, some of the most duplicitous types of job listings readers have recently encountered online and precautions you can take to avoid falling for them yourself.
Did We Say Full-Time Manager? We Meant Part-Time Assistant
Sharon, a software developer and tester for a decade, fell victim to a "ghost post" last year, thanks to a misunderstanding between the person who placed the job listing and the actual hiring manager.
The day after Sharon applied for the job -- a full-time managerial position that matched her experience to a tee -- the HR person who'd placed the ad called to screen her. During the positive phone interview that ensued, trumpets heralded and angels sang. Sharon was hopeful she'd found the position of her dreams.
But Sharon's face-to-face meeting with the hiring manager sent her crashing back down to earth.
"The lead/manager position was neither a lead nor manager position," Sharon explained. "In fact, none of the lead/management skills that were posted on the job ad were necessary."
Instead, the hiring manager said he wanted someone who had only a year or two of experience in the field, rather than the six to eight years mentioned in the job listing.
"I would be taking a big step backwards in my career," said Sharon, who'd postponed a family trip three days for the interview.
To make matters worse, as Sharon was leaving the hour-long interview, the hiring manager casually mentioned that he wanted to change the position from employee to temporary status, meaning no benefits and no guarantee how long the job would last.
"Furious doesn't even come close to describing my feelings," she said.
Entry-Level Bait and Switch