Those that follow my blog here know that I’m pretty passionate about steering fledgling freelancers away from the veritable *ocean* of job scams out there.
Yesterday, I stumbled across another job scam that was even more insidious – a Facebook jobs advertisement for a Social Media Manager, sent to me by a trustworthy and well-meaning friend. It was local-ish, paid a little bit more than I’m currently making, and offered a telecommuting option – I was definitely interested.
The Tasty, Tasty Bait
Facebook jobs makes it pretty easy to automatically upload things like your name, work history, education, and so on, because it pulls from your profile. I finished it up, sent it off, “liked” the business as requested, and immediately got a Facebook message request from the business in question. “Congrats!” it automatically enthused, going on to say that the “serious” candidates that followed directions (e.g. liking the page) could now progress to the second part of the interview. That second part involved following the business on Instagram, liking all of their posts, and leaving a unique comment on each one, then messaging the company again, this time on Instagram.
Not much of an Instagrammer, it still made sense to me to trudge through this particular gauntlet, it being social media and all. Once at the company IG page, I noticed something peculiar – thousands of comments on mundane, self-aggrandizing posts, replete with low-rez, blurred images and screenshots attached. In each one, the 23-year-old “CEO” crowed about his accomplishments, wealth, and material goods, crude language sprinkled liberally throughout. Now, I’m no prude, but that’s a massive, unnecessary risk for a public-facing marketing company to take. Particularly when they’re asking large companies to hand them the keys to their image. Every post was a vague celebration of reasons why he was smart and rich and “edgy” – the emphasis was entirely on him, not what he was doing for his clients. Something wasn’t adding up, here.
Special Like Everyone Else
While I was puzzling over what this meant, my messenger chimed again. The same message greeted me when I opened the screen up, sent again, approximately 10 minutes after the first one. With more than two dozen posts in the Instagram account, this wasn’t a small task – let alone one that could be finished with any quality in 10 minutes. Mildly annoyed, I combed through the comments and realized that this huge volume, thousands strong, stretched as far back as a year ago. More disturbingly, each one seemed to be seeking the same job position I was. The messenger chimed again, delivering the same note, ostensibly addressed to the “real” job seekers – like me, the unwritten emphasis continued. The same job posting that was freshly-posted that same day had apparently been kicking around for an entire year with no hires. Hmm.
Thanks But No Thanks
I did a little more digging and hit several dead ends. Suddenly, it all made sense. This “CEO” of a marketing company that I’d never heard of, one that had virtually no real presence to speak of despite being local to me, had created and perpetuated a fake position to continually farm likes and comments for his Instagram account. I was disgusted. I backtracked, deleted my comments, and unliked the account on both platforms. I replied politely to the messaging bot on the company page in the off chance human eyes would see it, indicating I was no longer interested and to discard my application.
A new, automated message appeared, bubbly and optimistic, telling me to go ahead and DM on Instagram for the next step just as soon as I had left all those comments.
How much do you want to bet the next “stage” of the “interview” involved liking, commenting and sharing on another social media platform, and another? It’s incredible to me that someone would go through that much trouble. While some might disagree with me, I consider this kind of nonsense flat-out theft: for job-seekers with looming bills the time it takes to inflate a 23 year old’s ego ever-higher is time that would be better spent on legitimate applications. That’s theft of time, effort, and hope, and it’s despicable.
This falls under my don’t work for free clause, fledgling freelancers. If a company asks to you put your reputation and your accounts on the line while working for free by using both, something stinks.
My advice? Take that garbage company off of your to-do list before it starts to smell even worse.