Detecting Red Flags During Your Remote Work Job Search

Remote work has become much more common since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, many organizations have downsized their in-person workforces or at least offer employees some opportunities to work from home each week. For many people, the flexibility and convenience of working from home is a perk they can’t resist.

If you’re thinking about joining the remote work movement, it’s important to realize that finding the right fit is just as important as it is when looking for a location-dependent job. You actually have to be even more careful since many “remote jobs” are actually scams designed to get free work or money out of you.

So, how do you tell legitimate remote jobs from scams? Here are some red flags to look out for.

Posting in the Wrong Places & Fishy URLs

Most legitimate companies will post their job ads on legitimate sites like Indeed, Monster, or ZipRecruiter. Scam jobs, in contrast, will often show up in Google or Facebook ads.

While these are legitimate advertising platforms, they’re more for advertising products and services for sale, not remote jobs. Additionally, you’ll start to notice that the language in these kinds of ads is more “sales-y” and generic than what you’ll see in a legitimate job ad.

If you do follow one of these ads and notice that it leads you to a suspicious URL, run away!

Asking for a Startup Fee (Or Unpaid Test Project)

When you apply for a job, you should never have to pay any kind of initiation or startup fee. If any “job” asks you to pay a fee during the process, do not continue. You should also walk away if they ask you to do work for free, like an unpaid “test project.”

Test projects are very common in the freelancing world, as a way of ensuring high-quality work. However, these test projects should always be paid for. If they aren’t, the “employer” is either scamming you for free work or doesn’t value the work they’re asking for. Either way, it’s a big red flag!

Another related red flag? Using a weird payment system!

Not Enough Details

Although not all job descriptions provide enough detail, they should, at minimum, provide a bit about the position, the company, and the skills they’re looking for. If the job description is extremely vague and promises large commissions without a clear indication of what the job involves, it’s probably a scam.

Another red flag is not finding many (or any) details about the company. It’s so easy to set up a website these days that even new startups should have some kind of web presence, especially if they’re hiring for remote roles. If you can’t find much about the company, move on.

A company should openly talk about its working policies, culture, and company values, including diversity and inclusion practices. They should be excited about finding the right fit and will provide enough details for candidates to get a feel for the company culture.

They Won’t Provide Equipment

Most companies will provide at least basic equipment for their employees, such as a work laptop, monitor, headset, etc. If a job is asking you to provide your own equipment, be very wary about moving forward, even if you already have the necessary hardware. Although this doesn’t automatically mean the job is a scam, it could mean that they aren’t legitimate or at least can’t afford the equipment their employees need.

Seems Too Good to Be True

Lots of remote “jobs” offer get-rich-quick promises, advertising short working hours for fabulous pay — no experience necessary. Bottom line, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are some wonderful remote jobs out there, but none of them will seem like a get-rich-quick scheme!

Be Patient

Getting a remote job can be tough, especially since you’ll be competing with other candidates from all over. It’s important to be patient and avoid getting discouraged during the process. Finding the right fit takes time! Just be sure you don’t fall for any of the red flags listed above.

Andrew Deen