Employment Plans? Employment Scams!

Job hunting is a daunting process for the brand new grad. I’m currently in this phase myself. I worked my tried and true summer job upon graduation and took off in the fall for several weeks of travel. The experience was exceptional and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That being said, I left my money in Europe and returned to the joys of unemployment.

As anyone who has had to look for work will agree, the task is time consuming. It is a full time job in itself. Unfortunately, only employment counsellors get paid to do it. So you can imagine how frustrating it can be to put hours of effort and thought into applications, only to be duped by phony job postings!

Allow me to elaborate. Near the beginning of my most recent stint of job searching, I was surprised to see that a head hunting firm called Fieldtech Recruiting was reaching out for Administrative Assistants. Head hunting firms typically recruit for the higher end positions. At that point I figured it would be worth a shot to try for administrative work. I wanted something to keep me afloat while I looked for jobs more related to my field of study so I shot out a resume. I should have done my research like a good journalist first. Had I done so, I would have found no website for this so-called head hunting firm and no information other than a bogus news article on Wire Service Canada – Canadian Free Press Release Service. The article boasted Fieldtech’s ability to “find jobs that pay like it’s 2006 again.”

In my frenzy of cover letter writing and resume tweaking I received an e-mail from a John Spencer. His response to my application came from a Gmail account and had no statement of what his position with Fieldtech was. What it did say was that I was well qualified for the position but that Fieldtech would not consider me further unless I fixed up my resume. I was referred to a resume writing expert who would charge me a low rate of $149 to fix mine up. Once I had done that I’d be free to re-submit my application for consideration. No thanks!

You know, there are free resume writing services available. There’s never a need to spend money on this. For example, Toronto Employment and Social Services has 15 Employment Resource Centres across the city. They are staffed with professionals who are equipped with the tools to help people develop resumes, cover letters, and other job-related materials to fit their individual needs.

I walked into another trap only a few days after the Fieldtech fiasco. I found a job posting for a marketing company that was looking for new team members. The posting said that it would be training new employees in a variety of areas such as Advertising and Public Relations and that it was an entry level position. It sounded okay to me. I figured it was somewhat related to my field of study and that the least I could do was check it out. The website (www.torontomarketinggroup.com) was fairly vague and set off a small red flag for me. It called itself Toronto Marketing Group but had no information about their clients or campaigns. I remained open to it because a friend of mine had just told me she felt a bit sceptical about her employer’s website when she first applied and it turned out to be a dream job for a fresh Business graduate.

The day after I submitted my application I received a call and was asked to go in for an interview. The interview experience was bizarre. The loft office space had no staff inside on a Wednesday afternoon, there was bad pop music blaring, and there was no information displayed about the company as far as I could tell. The woman who interviewed me flew through a rehearsed spiel that was vague at best. She told me that the company did advertising campaigns for such companies as BMO and United Way (you would think this information would be beneficial to have on the website). She hardly gave me any time to ask questions once she was through and she rushed me out the door. She told me it was a disadvantage for me to have been the first interview of the day and not to get my hopes up about a second interview. I suspect this was to build me up for the phone call I would get later that evening.

When I did get invited to a second interview, the little red flag that had nagged me originally seemed to become magnified. It’s as though the text size in my brain browser went from smallest to largest. I knew I couldn’t ignore it. I did a bit more research about Toronto Marketing Group and found an interesting post on a forum in a website called RedFlagDeals.com. The thread it was connected to was called “Is Toronto Marketing Group a Scam?” Basically the poster said that they found the same lack of transparency as me when they went through the interview process and when they went in for the full-day second interview they wound up selling water heaters door to door. What does that have to do with marketing?

Another poster called Rockthecasbah on the RedFlagDeals.com forum made this insightful comment, “sounds like a scam. The gratuitous use of the word ‘marketing’ in these sorts of ‘companies’ tends to lead one to that conclusion.” Though the job with Toronto Marketing Group wasn’t a scam per se, it was a matter of misrepresentation. If I’m looking for someplace that will train me in PR, I’m certainly not going to be too happy when I find myself selling water heaters door to door. These businesses ought to be more up front about what jobs they are offering so as not to waste applicants’ time.

The internet has really become an advantageous tool for applicants and employers alike. Thousands of job offers are available at the click of a mouse and job hunters can easily find opportunities that they never would have known about had they used traditional classifieds and resume distribution methods. Unfortunately, the internet makes your likelihood of applying to false ads much greater. I was searching on bestjobscanada.com and kijiji.ca when I took my missteps. Both are perfectly good places to job search but the key is to be careful. I’ve learned my lesson. I now make sure I research every company thoroughly before sending my application. If someone can post a false advertisement so that they can offer you services you don’t need, just imagine what else people could use your personal information for.

 When you enter the Craigslist employment classifieds section, you are now directed to a page which warns you about bogus ads that direct you to such things as background checking services, training services, credit checking sites, etc. before you can follow through with your application. It advises you not to waste your time on ads like these. Thank you Craigslist, that’s very responsible of you. Keep this advice in mind no matter which search engine you may be using and remember to keep your personal information on online job applications to a minimum. I certainly will. Good luck with your job hunting!

Don’t (the Royal) We want More than This?

On November 23, one week after news broke of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement, CTV’s National newscast still spent about four minutes of airtime on the story. On November 16 a good quarter of the program was dedicated to the royal news with live bits, expert perspectives and all. Dare I mention the number of prestigious front pages the engagement has hijacked? Maclean’s November 29 issue with 52 pages dedicated to the story depicts the pair with a caption reading “William & Kate at Last,” Hello Canada’s latest issue advertises nothing other than the royal engagement articles that lie beyond the cover, and even the U.S. edition of Time Magazine had to subtly slip the news onto the front page.   

Aren’t there more important things happening in the world that we should know about? Some notable events this past week included Ireland’s resistance to a bailout from the United Kingdom, the tragic spread of cholera in Haiti after hurricane Tomas, and North Korea’s worst attack on South Korea in months. The engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton even overshadowed the joyous news of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest which she had been sentenced to for her efforts to bring democracy to Burma.


I challenge our population to smarten up and care about the real world issues. The sad thing is that the November 16 newscast that spread word of the engagement probably drew in more viewers than it had in weeks. I know that some people really do care about the venue and the colour scheme that the Prince and pending Princess are considering for their big day but let us keep such frivolous details to the gossip mags, shall we? As far as I’m concerned, a simple copy story would have been more than enough of a dedication to the report.


I guess this is the part where I point a finger at myself for hypocrisy. Here I am making the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton my top article. Well, hopefully there will be no suspending me from my duties. The Queen may be on my money but she’s no employer of mine. I’m sorry Bishop Richard Chartres, you’re all alone in social media limbo for now.  But for good measure, I wish the newly engaged pair all the best in their future endeavours.