While hunting for her first post-collegiate job, Simone answered an ad for an entry-level marketing professional, only to find it was a door-to-door sales gig in disguise.
"As I went through the interview process with this company, I kept ignoring the feeling that something wasn't quite right," Simone said.
Specifically, the office was empty, save for the receptionist. Plus, the interviewer spent the entire meeting trying to sell Simone on what a wonderful opportunity the job was -- and how much money she stood to make -- rather than asking any questions about herself and her experience.
Still, when the receptionist called asking her to do a day of on-the-job training -- even mentioning she should wear comfortable shoes -- Simone obliged. She did need a job, after all.
Upon arriving for her training, Simone was paired with another young woman and asked to get in her car, "a trashy beater filled to the brim with clothing and empty food containers." When the woman revealed that they'd be selling tickets door to door for professional sporting events and Simone demanded she turn the car around, the woman tried to talk her out of it for "a good 5 to 10 minutes" before complying.
Down the Recruiter Rabbit Hole
While recruiters and headhunters can often be reliable partners for finding work, Carlo, a senior executive in the high-tech sector, encountered the recruiter from hell earlier this year.
The recruiter, recommended by one of Carlo's peers, e-mailed to say he had an immediate job opening he wanted to discuss with Carlo. Although employed, the executive was intrigued. So he bit.
After a preliminary phone chat, Carlo agreed to a meeting at the recruiter's office, only to learn that there was -- surprise! -- no position. Instead, the recruiter -- a one-man operation -- was stockpiling potential candidates and corporate contacts in an effort to build his new practice.
But that wasn't the only thing about the meeting that got Carlo steamed.
"During the conversation, he let it slip that right before I came in, he had spoken to my former boss -- without asking for my consent," Carlo said. In addition, the recruiter shared some unsavory gossip about Carlo's former boss.
Worried about the possible damage this loose-lipped, fibbing recruiter could do to his career, Carlo suggested the guy delete him from his database.
Don't Get Duped
Unfortunately, all these practices are fairly common. So how do you avoid being misled by a less-than-factual job listing?
Skip the vague ads. "If there are no specifics in the job description, that obviously is a red flag," said Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers, a job hunting consultancy in Atlanta. "If the salary range is very broad, like $30,000 to $100,000, that's also a red flag."
Research the company. If the listing doesn't give the organization's name and you get called for an interview, request it so you can research the firm accordingly, said Janet Civitelli, associate director of the University of Houston's student and alumni career services center. Ask for the names of some of the people you'll be interviewing with too. "If a company balks, that is warning sign number one," she said.