I was almost duped by a ‘scam job’ offer – and you could be too

Yes, please tell me less about this ‘amazing opportunity’

It was a few weeks before graduating when I got a call from a friendly-sounding woman (let’s call her Stephanie) telling me how I would be the perfect candidate for a job with them. I had applied to hundreds of jobs online by this point, and was anxious to find my way into the working world, so I thought maybe had applied for a position with them.

Stephanie asked me if I had heard of their company (let’s call them South Inc.), and I said “Sure” (I hadn’t heard of them, but I thought maybe I just applied for a job there and forgot). She went on to tell me that they were a marketing firm in my hometown for Fortune 500 companies and that they would like to offer me an entry-level position that would eventually lead to a management position.

Looking back, I should have been more skeptical, but I was in an anxious, vulnerable place at the time I got that phone call. I didn’t have the connections that a lot of my peers did (a serious problem for an aspiring writer). I was looking for and applying to jobs from the time I got home until 3 a.m. and kept a spreadsheet of everything I applied to. I was sick to death of networking functions that got me nowhere and just wanted the chance to show someone that I was hard-working and willing to do what it takes to make my way in the world.

Stephanie asked when a good time would be for an interview, and I scheduled one for two days after my graduation.

I immediately called my dad, full of excitement. “South Inc?” he said, “I’ve never heard of them.” I got a little defensive. “Well, I think it’s a new marketing startup,” I said, “I think they want me to do copywriting or maybe social media work with them.” I looked at my applications spreadsheet, and apparently I never applied for a position with them, but I just brushed that off thinking that my ship had finally come in and all my hard work was going to pay off.

It was a foolish and immature attitude to have, but between five jobs and an internship (plus this awesome editing gig at a site called the Tab – you may have heard of it), I was exhausted and just wanted it all to amount to something as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to go back home just to be spinning my wheels – I needed something.

I looked at the company website and thought, “Wow. These people looks so successful, youthful, and happy. She’s holding a trophy and they go to Titans games together! And it says they represent one of the most well-known entertainment and telecommunications companies in the world! I want to get into entertainment!” These were the very, very stupid thoughts of a stressed-out second semester senior running on possibly four hours of sleep.

And it turns out, that’s exactly the kind of person they were looking for. After graduating, I went to look up more about the company so I could prepare for my interview. Vague, positive reviews all over the place emphasizing the fun office environment and one of the cons being “Weather some days can be a hassle.” I tried to remember what position I was interviewing for, but I never remember Stephanie telling me what it was other than that it might involve “face-to-face sales.”

I did a little more research (something I didn’t have the opportunity to do much of while I was dealing with finals), and found this review which described a situation similar to mine: talked to nice people on the phone about a marketing position. However, this person actually went to the interview and a follow-up interview where they had to bring “comfortable shoes.”

The interview I scheduled was not for a marketing job where I would be writing copy or helping with social media for an entertainment/telecommunications company, but a door-to-door commission-based job where I would be selling AT&T U-Verse packages.

Needless to say, I felt ridiculously gullible. The signs were all there. There was no description of what they actually did, no one told me what position I was being interviewed for, and, most importantly, they came to me without me even applying to them.

Thankfully, I didn’t waste my time interviewing for them, but it hurts to build your hopes up this much just to find out you were going to be scammed in the end. There’s nothing wrong with sales jobs. It’s not “beneath me.” But I was clearly being tricked into accepting a job entirely different from what had been described; probably because very few people would schedule an interview knowing that they would be slinging AT&T bundles on foot and the only relief you get from the Nashville heat is the breeze coming from the doors that slam in your face.

The only silver lining from this experience is the valuable lesson I learned: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. I know we’re all stressed and eager to get started in the world, but you need to be skeptical of opportunities that pretty much fall in your lap. I was disappointed at worst, but I could have ended up being suckered into a lousy job and wasting a lot of my time and resources. Research anyone that offers you a job thoroughly. If someone if offering you a position you didn’t apply for (or offering you no specific position, just an “opportunity”), that’s a red flag. If you go to their website and leave more confused that before, then they aren’t worth your time.

It’s unfortunate that companies feel the need to manipulate recent graduates that are desperate for jobs, but that’s just one of the perils of the job search. Remember to only accept positions from people that appreciate and utilize your intelligence and skills, and not just make empty promises in hopes of using you.