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Beware the scammers

October 10th, 2008
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Career Opportunities podcast logoBeware the Scammers
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Beware the scammers

[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2008/career-op-20081010.mp3]

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Beware the scammers
October 10, 2008

Whenever the economy slows, whenever a natural disaster occurs or whenever there is a sense of fear about anything in society, the scammers come out in force. There will always be a contingent of people who take advantage of a bad situation. When jobs are tight and companies are struggling, the career scams start to flow. Beware the scammers and don’t make a bad situation worse.

One of the worst things career scammers can do is take money out of the pockets of people who might already be struggling with a stalled career or a layoff. You need money to feed your family and fund your job search, so scams like this directly effect your standard of living. Be very careful before handing over money without some concrete idea of how a program will effect your job search and career.

Watch closely

No matter how desperate you might feel, you need to investigate each opportunity closely and carefully. What promises are being made? How quickly will a given program show results? Worse still, is it yet another multi-level marketing scheme in disguise? You are going to be faced with a hundred different opportunities during the the next year and the sad fact is 99.9% of them will be bunk. Most of us already know this from our life experiences, no matter how old we are. Anyone over the age of 16 has faced many opportunities that sounded great at the start, but turned out to be much, much less than promised. Knowing this fact, and remembering it, offers a base level of protection against the scammers that are sure to come calling.

…seek out ways to improve your knowledge and skills above all else.

So, where do you look for methods to improve your career in down times? First, seek out ways to improve your knowledge and skills above all else. While many people will want to teach you how to make a better resume or perform better in interviews, it is your base skills and knowledge that will create the real job opportunities. Learn a new programming language or piece of software. Take a course in how to be a better manager from a reputable organization. Take a design course. Do whatever it takes to develop your existing skills and build new ones. Basically, you are turning the odds in your favor. The more you know, the more job opportunities will be available for you.

What to avoid?

How do you judge between the good and bad opportunities that present themselves? The first rule is an old one…if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Despite how many times we may have heard this in the past, we still ignore it on occasion. One reason for this is, when we are desperate for an answer to our problems we want to believe too much. We want to believe that this opportunity is the 0.1% that aren’t scams. We want to believe that this is the easy way out of our troubles. We want to believe that we’re not ignoring the “too good to be true” rule. Unfortunately, when we want to believe something too much, we can convince ourselves of almost anything. It is only after we have become mired in some program that we start to see the truth. In the worst cases, we can go against our own ethics and even laws in an attempt to make the opportunity work out. Be honest with yourself and ask that question every day, “Is this really a good idea or do I want to believe it’s a good idea?” You will be surprised at your answers, I am sure.

You will be faced with many scams (or near scams) in the coming months. You might even be dealing with them already. This is natural when money and jobs get tight. Evaluate every opportunity closely. Only spend money on ways that increase your work skills and try to avoid “believing too much” even when things get tough. If you can do this, you will emerge from this economic cycle smarter, stronger and more solvent.


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