Deception, Inc.

From bad bosses to work that's too good to be true, watch out!

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2006

Does the job ad sound too good to be true? Then it probably...oh wait, you already know the rest of that equation. Always keep an eye out for red flags when searching for a new job and then listen to your instincts. Most times, they'll tell you that these jobs should be avoided at all costs.

Liz Ryan, founder of WorldWIT, an online women's community based in Boulder, Colo., says there are a number of jobs to avoid in 2006. The first one she mentions is "vaguely creative-sounding marketing representative" jobs.

"One young friend of mine traveled from Colorado to Chicago thinking she had five job interviews set up," Ryan says. "She had responded to five different print ads and set up an interview with a person from each company. Surprise! It was all one company, using a bunch of different names to snare unsuspecting new grads from all over the country."

The job turned out to be a sales job and had nothing to do with marketing. Ryan says this is just one of many misleading job ads you can encounter. Now, more of what to look out for:

Freelance opportunities

Another example of a job to approach with caution is one labeled as "independent contractor assignments."

"Even though the IRS is cracking down, companies still create independent contractor opportunities that are really traditional employment in sheep's clothing," says Ryan. "If you're told when and where to report, which hours to work, which tools to use and exactly how to do your job, then you're an employee and should receive the same pay and benefits as employees."

Bad boss

Tanner says to try avoid any job that comes with a difficult manager. Job seekers should look beyond the compensation package when looking at a job opportunity.

"It is said that people often take a job for the salary but leave because of problems with a boss," says Tanner. "What is the boss's management style? Is it compatible with your own work style? Failure to perform due diligence ahead of accepting an offer can mean that you are back in the job search market sooner than expected."

Here today ...

In addition to misleading job ads, red flags can pop up in jobs that are in danger of being off-shored - farmed out to countries other than the United States. In today's marketplace, more job functions are being considered for off-shoring to sites with a plentiful supply of skilled workers who will work for significantly less money.

"Today's worker needs to stay abreast of the off-shoring trend and develop marketable skills that can't easily be off-shored, such as team management and leadership skills," says Christine Tanner, assistant director of career and internship services at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Beyond boring

Finally, be sure to avoid any job that you feel won't offer you a significant challenge or opportunity for growth. Tanner says one way to make sure this doesn't happen is to highlight the skills you want to emphasize in your next job on your resume, not just the ones you've been using.

"You may be the perfect candidate for a job because your previous job was nearly identical to it, but you will be bored in three months because you're not being challenged," says Tanner.

Lessons learned

Richard Carbone left a stable job at a database-consulting firm in Cincinnati for a new opportunity in Dayton, Ohio.

"I was convinced I was making the move of a lifetime," says Carbone. "The job was talked up so much by the recruiter that now, in hindsight, I realize it was too good to be true."

Carbone says he accepted a job as the project manager of strategic opportunities, which he thought would keep him busy trying to align his new firm's strengths in database management with companies throughout Ohio looking to increase their productivity with better information technology. But that's not what he encountered during his first week at the new job.

"I was basically a sales guy, trying to sell firms our databasing services," says Carbone. "I thought all the legwork was already done and I would go in and help bring our services to the companies. I had no idea I'd be in sales."

Carbone called his old boss in Cincinnati and was able to get his old job back.

- Rob Kallick

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