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Tips for catching job-posting red flags

Wondering whether a job post is worth applying to? If you're afraid that a job ad sounds either too good to be true or just plain fishy, certain cautionary signs in the posting could confirm your suspicion. Of course, one or two of these red flags don't always mean something is wrong, but if the clues start to pile up, you may want to proceed with caution. Here are seven signs to watch out for.

The job was posted months ago, or the job is constantly reposted.

Often, the reason for this is perfectly legit: A company may simply have lots of similar positions to fill, or it may be looking to fill typically high-turnover positions (such as seasonal hospitality jobs). But if that's not the case, this may be a sign that the company has put the position on hold or has high turnover for reasons that might raise concern. And sometimes companies will collect resumes just for the sake of gathering information about current salary conditions. But it's also true the employer might be waiting for the perfect match, so if you're it, you'll want to apply.

The post says, "Company confidential."

You should ask yourself the reason for the secrecy. Is the position not really open? Is an agency collecting resumes without a company's consent? There may be no cause for concern; however, a post like this makes it difficult to tailor your resume and conduct the appropriate company research.

The post says, "Fax your resume to . . ."

This is a sign that the company isn't keeping up with the times. Then again, the company may just be testing your ability to follow instructions.

The post contains phrases like "must be extremely hardworking" and "must be able to handle extremely high stress."

An ability to work hard should be a given, so if a post says "extremely hardworking," know that it means "extreeeeeemely hardworking." Such a work environment might be perfect for you, and lots of high-stress jobs are very rewarding. But if a job post focuses on the difficulty of a job (instead of selling the company as a great place to work to attract the best candidates), you should at least go into the application process knowing that your work-life balance will not be a priority at this company.

The post lists the salary as "up to $500K per year."

This is another matter of simply being aware of what you're signing up for. If a job post talks about the salary in terms of "up to," then the job pays on commission. Just be sure to ask about base salary and average incomes when you talk to the hiring manager. (Another phrase to watch out for in this vein is "Be your own boss!")

The post says the successful candidate will need to work for free or for less than minimum wage for a trial period.

Employment tests are often completely legitimate. For instance, if you're applying for a job that requires writing news releases, a company might ask you to write a sample news release. And both paid trial periods and unpaid internships are common in some industries. But the U.S. Department of Labor is clear that any productive labor must be paid under minimum-wage laws, and that an internship cannot be a condition of employment at a company.

The job post asks you to submit sensitive information.

Being smart online means guarding information such as your Social Security number and bank account information until you're sure that the entity asking for it is on the up and up. Until a job offer is in the works, a legitimate company has no need for private information such as this.

© 2012 — Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.com. To see other career-related articles, visit career-advice.monster.com. For recruitment articles, visit hiring.monster.com/hr/ hr-best-practices.aspx.

Tips for catching job-posting red flags 06/30/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 4:30am]
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