Misleading Job Ads
Some job ads are misleading because they don't provide enough information. Other ads are deliberately misleading - written to trick you, to hide the real facts about a job or even to promote jobs that don't exist.
Here are some tips for what to look out for and what you can do.
Checking an Ad's Credibility
You can often tell a job ad is dodgy just by looking at it. Legitimate job ads should provide:
- The company's name and the full name, street address and phone number of a contact person
- The job title, e.g. chef
- The qualifications required
- How you would be paid (annual salary, commission-only basis, award wages)
Information a Potential Employer Should Provide
If the job ad doesn't provide enough information, the company may not be deliberately trying to mislead you. They may have just forgotten to include some information. Call the contact number provided and ask a few simple questions to determine:
- The employment status (whether you would be permanent, casual, fixed term, part-time, full-time)
- What type of work you would have to do
- Whether you would be an employee or self-employed
- Whether you would be covered by an award, a Victorian industry sector or a written employment agreement
- How much, when, and how you would be paid
- Where the employer is based
If you aren't satisfied with the information provided, chances are it's a dodgy job. You should only apply for jobs if you are certain that the information provided by the job ad is genuine.
Typical Dodgy Job Ads
There are some typical things to look out for in a misleading job ad:
- Being asked to send your application to a post office box
- Being asked for a payment upfront - never send money if requested
- A guarantee of a job if you buy a product
- Jobs that are advertised every week - chances are that they are advertised every week because none of their employees stay for long after they find out what the job is really like
- Terms such as 'trainee manager', 'promotions work', 'storeperson' or 'career in marketing' - they often mean door-to-door selling.
- Get-rich-quick claims - these are usually scams
- Claims of earning "$200 to $1000 per week for the right person" - these ads usually mean low pay, or no pay, and long hours
Remember - opportunities that seem too good to be true usually are.
Dodgy Working Conditions
Make sure that the work conditions and the benefits being advertised are the ones you're legally entitled to. Watch out for ads that offer:
- A job if you pay for your training - these are often thinly-disguised ads for training courses that will not guarantee a job after training finishes
- Contract positions disguised as permanent jobs - make sure that you will be employed, not contracted, if you get the job
- Commission-only jobs - you might be guaranteed a regular payment, but this is often deducted from your commission
What You Can Do
If you think an ad might be dodgy:
- Ask for all details relating to conditions of employment in writing before you sign anything
- Ask for references from other employees or other companies that work with the prospective employer
- Investigate the company further by contacting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
- Look the company up on the web
Misleading ads should be reported to the Consumer Affairs Victoria, JobWatch and/or the newspapers that published the ad (when you call the paper, ask to speak to the Advertising Manager).
You'll probably have lots of different jobs in your working life. Most of your bosses will do the right thing by you, but some might be dodgy.
This page tells you what to look out for and what to do if you think you've been sucked in by a job scam.
Who is vulnerable?
Anyone looking for a job can be vulnerable to scams. However, dodgy employers tend to target:
- Young people
- Unemployed people
- International students
- Travellers on working holidays
They target these groups because they think that they're the most naïve about their rights, the most desperate for work and the least likely to dob them in.
How to spot a job scam
Most job scams are self-employment or business opportunities designed to take your money rather than make you money. Clues that a job is really a scam include:
- Claiming that you can make large amount of money quickly and easily
- Talking about working from home
- Asking for money up front
- Insisting on unpaid trial work
Here are some common job scams to look out for, and some advice on how to deal with them. A lot of this advice can apply to all kinds of job scams, not just the ones listed.
Unpaid trial work
Unpaid trail work involves working for a period of time without being paid, with the promise that you will get a job after the trial is over. It is different from voluntary work - when you are a volunteer it is understood that you won't end up with a paid job.
Be very wary about agreeing to an unpaid trial with a commercial business. There is no guarantee that you'll get the job after the trial period finishes. A JobWatch survey found that only 13 percent of workers were offered a paid job after a trial.
Remember, everybody is entitled to be paid for trial work.
Normally the ads for these jobs don't ask for door-to-door sales people. Instead they use words like 'sales' or 'paid training'. If you're thinking of taking a door-to-door sales job, make sure it's legitimate. Ask questions like:
- Do you have to purchase any products?
- What's the average commission per employee?
- What's the exact commission rate?
- Is a retainer taken out of the commission?
If you don't think the money is enough for the work you need to do, or you have to pay any money up front, chances are it's a scam.
Modelling and casting agencies
These jobs might be advertised in newspapers, or someone might approach you on the street, in shopping centres, or at a nightclub.
Often they ask you for money in return for registration and a portfolio. If you're considering applying for one of these positions:
- Get the company's full details (street address, landline phone number - not a mobile - and the full name of the person you are dealing with) - if they won't give it to you, something isn't right
- Don't sign any contract or agreement without getting legal advice first
- Remember that most reputable agencies don't need a joining fee
- Don't go to an interview alone - if you're under 18, take a parent or guardian
What can I do about job scams?
Besides being careful about the jobs that you apply for, if you think a business is dodgy you can get in touch with JobWatch.
You can also check out JobWatch's 'Where to Get Help' section for a list of other organisations that can help with job scams and dodgy jobs.
You'll also find more information on our Rights at work section.
Consumer Affairs Victoria - Advertising
Find out more about advertising requirements and reporting misleading ads.
Victorian community legal centre specialising in employment law.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission - SCAMwatch
Information about scams and how to report them.