Although the mainstreaming of telecommute jobs during the last decade has reduced the presence of work-at-home job scams, they still exist. In this article, we outline remote job red flags, provide tips on how to recognize legit remote jobs, and give you insider tips on searching for a remote job in tech—the number one telecommute job category.
Remote Job Red Flags
Scammers have sneaky ways of pretending to be legitimate companies with lucrative opportunities. Unfortunately, such opportunities usually end up being ploys to access your personal information or steal money. Protect yourself as you search for telecommute jobs by looking out for these common red flags.
1. Requests for Personal Information Upfront
During an online application process, employers may ask for personal information such as your full name, mobile phone number, current address, and graduation dates. They may even present the option to specify your race, disability, and military or veteran status for equal employment opportunity purposes. However, employers should never ask you for your social security number, checking account number, or driver’s license number.
Such personal information is not necessary during the application process but is often required for hire. Stay far away from job posts that request social security numbers or similar information, as they could be identity theft scams.
2. Requests for Payment to Get a Job
Though employment application fees are legal in some states, it is poor practice for employers to charge jobseekers. Some states use application fees to offset hiring costs, especially for government positions where taxpayer dollars are used to hire new employees. However, scammers ask for cash up front with no intentions of reciprocating. Thus, to protect your pocketbook, never respond to a job post that request payment or checking, savings, or credit card account information.
3. Generic or Strange Email Addresses
Most professional organizations have domain names and send emails using their company email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Therefore, if you receive a job offer from a company that uses Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, or similar accounts, do not respond. Also, if an email address resembles that of a legit business, such as Microsoft or Amazon, check the domain for accuracy. Some scammers may post jobs or send emails using accounts that look like legit business names, but they’ll contain one missing or incorrect letter (e.g., email@example.com). Some may also include a long string of numbers in the name of the mailbox (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) or domain (e.g., email@example.com).
4. No Online Presence from the Employer
Companies that hire telecommuters should have a website where they present their products, services, company information, leadership team members, and contact information. They also typically show up in search engine results and have LinkedIn profiles or some form of social media presence. If you can’t find any online evidence that a company exists, it’s best to not respond to related job posts.
However, some scammers are more sophisticated and create malicious websites and social media profiles to give the illusion that a company is legit. In this case, look for a phone number and physical address, then search for the company using Google Maps and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If information doesn’t align and you can’t seem to locate a company, it may be best to avoid it completely.
5. Too Many Spelling and Grammar Errors in the Posting
Typos happen, but scams often contain way too many errors. If a job post contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors, as well as sentences that are illogical or unrelated to the job title, steer clear.
6. Vague Job Description
Legit job posts often contain detailed descriptions of job requirements and qualifications. They may also include company summaries and instructions on how to apply. Contrarily, scams can be brief, uninformative, and leave you feeling confused. Therefore, avoid job posts with cryptic or vague information.
How to Recognize Legit Remote Jobs
How do you know if a job listing is legitimate? There are a few ways to fact check information and ensure your remote job application experience is a safe one.
1. Check the Website
Search for the company name on the internet. Avoid clicking on links within the job post, in case they redirect you to malicious websites. Look at the “Contact” page for address and phone number information. Then, check out the “About” page and read through the leadership team descriptions (You’ll already want to do this before you send your resumé.) Also, check the URL for an “https,” which indicates the website is encrypted and secure. And don’t forget to check your web browser’s built-in security monitoring information and look for the lock symbol next to the URL. Hackers probably don’t care about encrypting their fake websites, so any indication of website security is a good sign.
2. Crosscheck Information
Crosscheck information you find on the company website by searching for executives and other employees on Google and LinkedIn. Also, use Google Maps or similar online application to look up the company address and validate the physical location. Even 100% virtual companies have a valid business address that they post publicly on the web.
3. Pick up the Phone
Go one step further and call the number listed on the website. You might inquire about the job post you found online and ask a human resources specialist to confirm the job post and whether it’s still available.
4. Search the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Go to the BBB website and search for the company name. Note that some companies may appear in the search results and have a BBB rating, but they may lack accredidation. Companies are not required to apply for and receive BBB accreditation, but they can still get listed and receive a grade. Thus, companies are likely legitimate if they have at least an information page on the BBB website.
5. Search for Reviews
Scour the web for company reviews from customers, partners, and previous employees. Again, sophisticated hackers can certainly fabricate reviews, but reasonable testimonials alongside other online validation can provide a sense of validation.
6. Review the Job Post
Take another look at the job post and read it carefully. Check for strange word pairings or anything that seems fishy. Authentic posts should have correct spelling and grammar, as well as detailed information about the position. Proceed with caution if you stumble upon a post with only a few lines of text and a bunch of links to find more information. Also, look for contact information for a recruiter or human resources specialist with an email address that coincides with the company name or website name.
Additionally, beware of job posts that present grandiose earnings claims. Though many employers accept entry-level candidates and offer on-the-job training for new employees, scammers often present far-fetched earning opportunities. Valid job posts usually provide direct information about professional training, minimum qualifications, and employee expectations.
Is It Possible to Find a High-Paying, Secure Remote Job?
Yes! There are thousands of legitimate telecommute jobs out there that pay just as much as office jobs. Remote work options are no longer seen as employment perks that substitute for higher pay. Plus, you can find jobs with full employee benefits, such as healthcare and retirement savings matching. Telecommute-friendly companies also offer part-time, temporary, seasonal, and independent contractor positions that are location independent.
Remote tech jobs aren’t simply trendy—they’re high-demand positions offering rewarding careers and lifestyles. Information technology careers have dominated the Virtual Vocations telecommute job database for years 2016, 2017, and 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also expects the industry to grow by 13 percent through 2026, creating over a half a million new jobs during this period. Additionally, dozens of telecommute-friendly tech companies rank among the best businesses for women due to their female-focused environments.
Though tech jobs often require four-year computer-related degrees, many employers seek “new collar” workers with proven skills and a desire for growth. Careers in software development, database administration, technical support, and information security are more attainable for ambitious telecommuters willing to learn and evolve.
5 High-Demand Telecommute Tech Jobs
To get you started in your remote job search, check out these top telecommute tech jobs in the Virtual Vocations database.
Median Salary: $103,560
Job Outlook Through 2026: 24% growth
Job Title Examples: Remote Front End Developer, Telecommute Angular Developer, Remote Senior Software Developer
Information Security Analyst
Median Salary: $95,510
Job Outlook Through 2026: 28% growth
Job Title Examples: Telecommute Information Security Analyst, Remote Cyber Security Senior Analyst, Remote Information Security Engineer
Technical Support Specialist
Median Salary: $50,210
Job Outlook Through 2026: 11% growth
Job Title Examples: Remote WordPress Technical Support Representative, Telecommute Technical Support Manager, Telecommute Incident Response Technical Support
Median Salary: $104,650
Job Outlook Through 2026: 6% growth
Job Title Examples: Remote Cloud Network Architect, Telecommute Senior Network Architect, Remote Network Security Solutions Architect
Median Salary: $81,100
Job Outlook Through 2026: 6% growth
Job Title Examples: Remote Senior Systems Administrator, Remote Linux Systems Administrator, Telecommute Cloud System Administrator
Companies that Hire Remote Tech Workers
Here’s a list of some top companies in the Virtual Vocations database that frequently offer excellent remote jobs to tech-savvy professionals. For a complete list of remote companies hiring in the tech industry,
Headquarters: Armonk, New York
What They Do: IBM offers world-renown products and services related to analytics, automation, blockchain, cloud technologies, IT infrastructure, security, servers, consulting, and training.
In 2017, IBM—a telecommuting pioneer—infamously called thousands of their employees back to brick and mortar offices, but this did not mean they shuttered their remote work options for good. IBM still regularly hires tech sector professionals for a variety of remote roles.
Who They Hire: Software Developers, Cyber Security Incident Responders, Analysts, Project Managers
Headquarters: New York City, New York
What They Do: Datadog develops leading cloud-based solutions that integrate applications so that business experts can analyze information in one convenient, user-friendly place.
Who They Hire: Software Engineers, Security Analysts, Technical Writers, Product Designers
Headquarters: Round Rock, Texas
What They Do: Dell offers a range of hardware, software, and data solutions, as well as business and technical consulting, support, deployment, and training.
Who They Hire: Technical Architects, Software Engineers, Account Executives, Cloud Engineers, Systems Consultants, Technology Account Service Managers
Headquarters: Santa Clara, California
What They Do: ServiceNow develops could-based software to help IT, security, and human resources teams work effectively and deliver exceptional customer service.
Who They Hire: Technical Solutions Consultants, Digital Experience UX Project Managers, Security Transformation Consultants
Headquarters: Brookfield, Wisconsin
What They Do: Fiserv provides technology solutions for the financial industry by developing applications that process payments, manage online banking services, assess risk and financial performance, and deliver optimized reporting.
Who They Hire: Telecommute Enterprise Solution Architects, Remote Data Analysts, Telecommute Implementation Analysts
Are you interested in remote jobs beyond the technology sector? Read our report on the Top 20 Telecommute Jobs of 2018 and check out our YouTube video outlining the report:
Will you use these tips for spotting legit remote jobs during your job search? Are you interested in remote tech jobs? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about your deam telecommute job. We’d love to hear from you!
Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/Khosrork
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