How to Determine Real vs. Fake Freelance Job Postings

Part of the freelancing adventure is always being on the lookout for the next job. A simple Internet search will reveal many websites dedicated to the online job market – some jobs being strictly of a freelancing nature that pay per project, while others are full-time with salaries/benefits. Sorting through each online job opportunity to determine its veracity doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know what to look for.

Take note of the title…

Reputable job postings will feature straightforward, informative titles – nothing sensationalist. Avoid anything that with phrases like “Click Here,” “Make $$$,” or “Start Today!” As to the presence of exclamation points, tread carefully. Some legitimate companies will make an effort to include them in not just their job posting’s titles, but throughout the body of their posting in an effort to capture/maintain the attention of prospective applicants.

Be very suspicious of vagueness…

This problem is becoming less of an issue in the freelance job hunting world, though it’s still something to look out for. I never even entertain the thought of applying to a job that says something like, “rates based on experience,” “traffic-based income,” or “submit your rates.” That last one is a particular red flag, and unfortunately one that’s still prevalent. More specifically, it’s often used as a tactic to only hire freelancers with the lowest rate requirements.

There are some job postings that aren’t actually looking for applicants at all. Instead, some “employers” just want to get their website’s name out there. So, they’ll post an ad discussing a little bit about their company, and then include a link to “learn more,” except that, upon visitation, there’s not much to actually learn (at least job-wise).

Reputable job postings will ideally provide company info, an outline of what the job entails, specifics on pay, and upfront contact information. In my opinion, they get bonus points if they mention when successful applicants can expect to receive a response.

Sample selections can be insidious…

This one is a particular problem if you’re looking for freelance writing jobs. Although it makes sense that an employer would want to see samples of work from applicants, too many freelance writers can be duped by the “to apply, please write a ­­___ word article on ­­­___.” Sure, some employers will state that the article would only be used for evaluation purposes – even then, though, beware. Basically, it’s a free way for some employers to generate content for their websites.

In my earlier days of freelancing, I applied for a job that required just such a sample. Not thinking anything of it, I sent it off and never heard back. I had a nagging feeling about it all, so, having kept that article in my files, did an Internet search of a sentence or two from it a month or so after having applied.

I found out that the “employer” was harvesting articles from applicants and putting them on one of those contributor networks where pay was based on article traffic. I notified said site, provided the necessary proof, and my article was duly removed.

Bottom line: look for job postings that require a link to your website or other online published work, don’t get discouraged, and most importantly, acknowledge and honor your worth.

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