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expuser
Community Member

Job warning signs

When reading a job description, what causes you to go "Ut-oh!"? What red flags do you see in applications that at least puts you on your guard, if not actually skip to the next one? Here's some of mine (and others):

 

First and foremost The work is yours until you are paid in full. You own the copyright until you have been paid the agreed sum. If you choose to work for 15 cents per hour then that's your problem. If it takes longer than you thought..again, down to you. BUT. If you have done your bit according to the contract that you agreed, then the work is yours until it's paid for.

 

Asking for payment or to use your own accounts (Thanks Dave!) Money comes from the client to you; anything else and you're doing it wrong. Do not ever (unless you know the client really well, and give it second thoughts even then) pay for something for the client unless you have received the money from them first. Deposit for something; webhosting accounts; domain name; subscription for site X that is "essential for the job" etc etc. No money. Ever. Similarly, do not use your own eBay, Craigslist etc. accounts to list things for sale...chances are high that it will end badly and wreck any good karma you have built up there. And it'll be you in the frame if it turns out that it was illegal.

 

"Bait and Switch" (Thanks Selcalmel!) Clients advertise one job and then offer a different job at interview. Now there can be valid reasons for this; but a big difference between the job description and the work you're being offered should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Mostly on oDesk it's either jobs that you wouldn't have applied for if the job was described honestly or changing the rules to try and get the price down.

 

Too many people being interviewed This can be a sign that the buyer is dividing the job up and giving the various parts as a 'test' to applicants...with the intention of getting the job for free. It could just be that the buyer is looking for a very specific set of skills, or other innocent motive, but maybe not.

NOTE: (Thanks Brandon!) This also applies to the client's history...check the total number of jobs posted versus people hired. If there are a load of jobs posted but few contracts awarded, then proceed with caution.

 

Only low bidders being interviewed If you're not one of the low bidders on that job then it's probably not worth applying.

 

Long list of demands, silly budget We've all seen them; the jobs for an all-singing, all-dancing website for $100, followed by either a HUGE feature list and/or a long list of qualities required by the contractor. Luckily for you, the buyer is advertising the fact that they are a wanker (behaviour which is unlikely to change if you were unfortunate enough to land the contract). This buyer knows the market well enough to know exactly what they want; and must therefore know that the budget is exploitative...move on. And as a corollary to the above (Thanks Louis!):

 

People who bellow orders, often in capitals "SUCH SUCH WILL NOT BE READ I IF [insert term].... OTHERWISE I WILL DELETE YOUR APPLICATION IMMEDIATELY". Or "MUST ATTACH SUCH AND SUCH OTHERWISE YOU ARE WASTING MY TIME". Some people -presumably after watching Alan Sugar or that twat Trump- think that this is how bosses should behave. I see it mostly as a sign of either someone being new to being in a position to call the shots and is a bit insecure about it, or someone who is a natural git. In either case your job will be more difficult because of it. Also, these types of application are frequently paired with a ridiculous budget. Any buyers who are reading this should note that this isn't the way to go about things...also all capitals make it harder to read and you're increasing the chances of applicants missing an important detail. Annoying people before they've even applied for your job cannot possibly help. Am I the only one, by the way, who feels the impulse to reply in kind?: "Listen up bitch. I reckon I can do it in 10 hours which'll cost you $450 and if that isn't good enough then you can just **Edited for Community Guidelines** would be a fairly short application, probably.

 

Mention of half-finished job/previous contractor/s There are two factors here...sorting out what someone else has done often takes longer than just doing whatever it is from scratch. You will very probably be inheriting a hairy-arsed nightmare. The other factor -and a question you should be asking yourself (and the buyer, come to that)- is exactly why the previous contractor didn't finish. It does happen that buyers get a run of bad luck with contractors (often after playing in the lower budget ranges), so it isn't necessarily the buyer's fault. On the other hand, it could be. Rescuing a client from a wall-to-wall catastrophe at the 11th hour is one of the best smug feelings you can get as a freelancer; but these jobs are high-risk...you need to ascertain for yourself that the buyer is genuine before getting in too deep. A note to any buyers reading this: If you've already been through two or more contractors and you still don't have a result, you need to seriously consider throwing a match in and starting with fresh code. I've had jobs where it took significantly longer to find out what the hell the previous guys had done than it would have taken to just bin everything and do the job. And with other people's code, you can never be 100% sure that you haven't missed something important/broken/nasty.

 

One-line descriptions Buyers quite often don't know the information that a contractor needs in order to produce a final product the client will be happy with; that's not a problem and it's the contractor's job to ask the right questions. But when you see a job like "I need a website. Plz replie", just move on. If they can't be bothered, then neither can I.

 

Payment method not verified Sign either of a first-time user or a scammer. If the unverified user is overly familiar with the way oDesk works...warning! If it's a first time user, you may well have to do some unofficial oDesk support and talk them through it. And you might still get scammed at the end.

 

Anything where you have to create a user account on another site (that isn't the site you're working on) before you start. No. Just no.

 

Business plan with failure built in As a webdesigner, I hear 10 plans for world domination before breakfast. Some job descriptions have fail built into the very fabric of the scheme. The worst ones are the ones where you have to mess around with NDAs and soothe the buyer that you're not going to be over the horizon with his masterplan (which often as not turns out to be another bloody facebook or youtube clone). *sigh*

 

Jobs where 'clients' are mentioned I don't really like sub-sub contracting. Firstly there's there's the thought of the buyer sitting on his arse collecting cash for my work; which rankles a bit. Secondly -and more important- is the 'Chinese Whisper Effect'; where the original client's specs is filtered through the middleman's idea of what the end-client wants. These specs may well not be accurate. You *will* be doing extra work because of this. The same applies to large companies where an underling has been given the task and is now offloading it onto you; but in this case the specs are more often written down. The worse case in this latter scenario can be where it's a committee and everyone present has to get a design change in there -no matter how pointless- just to get their name in the minutes of the meeting.

 

"It will only take 5 minutes" No it won't. No job in the history of contracting has ever taken only 5 minutes. It takes longer than that to liase with the potential client, for a start.

 

Jobs that aren't worth it ((Your hourly rate) * (Number of hours you think it will take)) + (Say 10% safety margin for extra missions/unexplained bits) = (Your price for the job). If there's not enough money or not enough time, then it's usually best to move on.

 

Anything that mentions CAPTCHA or removing watermarks It's naughty. Don't.

 

Web scraping Nah. Probably illegal (copyright) and definitely immoral. You're stealing someone else's work. Worse...you're automating stealing someone else's work.

 

Jobs where it looks like a reasonable budget for the job until you read the description and it turns out that the budget is a monthly wage for full-time work of the same type This is annoying and wastes time.

 

Non-profit organisation (Thanks Mahesh!) A non-profit organisation is not the same thing as a charity. Some are, of course, but some are tax dodges, some are for groups of people, with the aim of the organisation being something you don't necessarily approve of..."Mothers in support of the ruthless oppression of Brits in Spain"; "White supremacy"; "Black supremacy"; whatever. Or -as Mahesh points out- it could just be weasel-wording for the fact that they haven't made any money.

 

Buyers asking for free work samples/tests (Thanks Anna!) It is the buyer's right to ask, just as it is your right to refuse. It's also discouraged by oDesk. All the veteran contractors (including me) will advise against free samples and in any case that's what your portfolio is for...to show previous examples of work and the standard that you're capable of. For contractors it just is not worth it...if there's 30 applicants to the job, you're spending time doing work for a 1 in 30 chance of getting a job. You can spend your entire life doing this and not make a penny. Now that I've said all that, a free sample is what landed me my first job on oDesk...someone wanted a graphic vector conversion and -having some free time- I just did it and sent an (unusable) sample graphic in. The buyer didn't demand a sample (I would not have applied if that were the case), but I proved I could do the job by doing it. Traditionally in design work, it used to be the case that the designer offered several alternate designs; but those were for *much* larger-budget jobs. It isn't worth even considering for the sort of jobs that are at oDesk. If you do choose to give free samples, always watermark them (Thanks Ernesto!). In the case of writing samples, send them as a graphic or locked PDF so that the text can't be used without paying you.

 

Free work samples - Part II If the buyer is asking for free samples and if it's the sort of job that can be broken up into smaller tasks then pay extra attention; and also look closely at the number of people being interviewed.

 

"Great opportunity for newbies" (Thanks Judith!) This means that a buyer is offering a risably small budget for work in exchange for giving you feedback. This is either feedback blackmail or investing time in order to get in the game, depending upon your point of view. You are definitely being taken advantage of; but really it's your decision...as long as you go into it with your eyes open and as long as it's all agreed at the start. Buyers trying to use feedback to change the terms after the job has started, however, should be reported.

 

Vague specifications (Thanks Louis!) It's harder to work with vague specifications, mostly, but you see quite a lot of jobs with insufficient detail. If you're extremely lucky, it's a buyer who wants this Thing to perform this Function; is busy; has correctly assessed your level of competence; and trusts you to get 'er done. This is rare. It is, however, also difficult to write job descriptions with exactly the right amount of detail. Insufficient detail could be due to laziness; unfamiliarity with the oDesk system; lack of knowledge (which is after all why the buyer is getting a professional in)...lots of reasons. The best way of approaching this -I believe- is to use the application letter and interview to clear up any ambiguities and to focus in on the specs so that you and the client both agree on what the job actually is and where the boundaries are. If you start the job and only have a vague idea of what the client wants, you are going to have problems. Possibly big problems if the job description also states...

 

Unlimited redo A job description containing these words should be approached with caution. Particularly with website work, as you're essentially agreeing to maintain it forever as part of the deal. Add a bit of mission creep to a contract like this and you're in a world of hurt. I always specify 'reasonable amount of re-do' in the cover letter. It's a contract and you should never agree to something that can suck up an infinite amount of your time for free. I understand that buyers want their work the way they want it and the 'unlimited' is mostly just a way of ensuring that their needs will be met. You, the contractor, also needs to ensure that you're covered, so best to renegotiate this phrase.

 

"Send us ID" This is not needed to work at oDesk. Don't do it or you will be very sorry. Verify who you are through oDesk, if you must, but ***NEVER*** send ID; bank account details, PayPal, eBay or any other information that can be used by ID-theft types.

 

Write to me outside of odesk This isn't necessarily a problem...everyone has their preferred methods of communication. At the first hint of paying outside of oDesk you should run away quickly: It's against oDesk rules; will get your account terminated if you're caught; and you will probably get stiffed by the buyer anyway.

 

Phishing (Thanks Santos!) The way this works is that someone sends you a link (usually an obscured one like "http://bit.ly/whatever"). This takes you to a page that *looks like* a login page to a common internet service (Gmail, Paypal, Amazon, whatever), but isn't. What the page is, is a copy of that login screen and the idea is that you type your password in and it gets captured by naughty people. It's then standard practice to use that email/username/password on lots of other common services to see if they work. If you 1) fall for it and 2) use the same password everywhere, you're stuffed. Don't trust an obscured link; and ALWAYS check the URL on a login screen, just to make sure you're in the place you think you are. Personally, I go a little further than that and keep a link with my (encrypted) password file and I only use my local link to visit web services.

 

Good luck out there!

976 REPLIES 976

Payment is not verified. Is dealing with clients via Google Hangouts the norm?

Google Hangouts is the norm for scammers. Anyway, don't give her bank information, and don't start working unless you have a contract on Upwork and a milestone is founded.

Thank you very much.  I just received another job offer asking me to use Google Hangout with a verification code and offering up to $22 an hr.

By the way, what do you mean by Milestone?

Debra:

 

The fact that you asked about a client by name shows us that you do not understand how Upwork works, and you do not understand how scammers operate here.

 

You really need to study more about scams. Do searches in the Community Forum and read about scammers. Read about Google Hangouts. Read about client names.

 

Until you understand why it never make sense to ask about a client by name, you are vulnerable to being scammed.

Thank you

Hi Debbie,

 

I see that the first job you were referring to has already been removed by our team and the second one is currently being reviewed.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Thank you very much.  I did try to send an email to the address that was given for phishing attemps ( when I was looking into and making notes ) but it came back as undeliverable.

 

 

sca1een
Community Member

hey..have you any warnings about getting a job with a **Edited for Community Guidelines**http://acewriters.org/ ** ??I've heard a lot about them - some are good and some are bad, like pretty bad..so not quite sure whether it's worth cooperating with them..

Hi Scarlet,

 

It's important that the client you meet on Upwork only pays you on Upwork. So if you applied for their job on Upwork but they are offering to hire and pay you outside of Upwork, it would be a serious violation of Upwork policies and can result in suspension. I suggest you read Upwork Terms of Use and this post to make sure you avoid questionable jobs.

~ Valeria
Upwork
emhock
Community Member

Hi, I received an offer from a company in which I looked up their webpage and the linkedin account of the woman I have been speaking with. They have only one job posting on Upwork and their payment method is not verified. She informed me that they would be sending me a check in order to buy equipment to set up my home office, including a Mac Book Pro and a scanner. We have only communicated through google hangouts messaging (no face to face contact at all) 

 

Is this a common interaction on Upwork? This is my first time trying freelance work. The company is legitimate and she has a professional profile but I am unfamiliar with this form of arrangments. 

 

Thanks 

Hi Emma,

 

Offering and accepting payments outside of Upwork is a serious violation of Upwork ToS and a common sign of a scam. Please, don't communicate with this client further via Upwork, Google Hangout and other means. We'll have the job you are referring to reviewed and actions taken. 

 

Please, check this post for more information.

~ Valeria
Upwork
emhock
Community Member

Hi, I received an offer from a company in which I looked up their webpage and the linkedin account of the woman I have been speaking with. They have only one job posting on Upwork and their payment method is not verified. She informed me that they would be sending me a check in order to buy equipment to set up my home office, including a Mac Book Pro and a scanner. We have only communicated through google hangouts messaging (no face to face contact at all) 

 

Is this a common interaction on Upwork? This is my first time trying freelance work. The company is legitimate and she has a professional profile but I am unfamiliar with this form of arrangments. 

 

Thanks 

No. It's a scam.

 

Everybody here knows this is a scam.

re: "I received an offer from a company in which I looked up their webpage and the linkedin account of the woman I have been speaking with.... The company is legitimate and she has a professional profile"

 

You googled the company name and the client's name, didn't you?

 

Don't do that!!

 

You were NOT chatting with the woman depicted in that LinkedIn profile. You were NOT talking to anybody from the company whose website you visited.

 

Do NOT google names. Do NOT look on LinkedIn. Do NOT go to a company's website.

 

That is how scammers trick newbies.

 

You are a newbie. You should not be googling company names and client names. You need to only use the information provided on Upwork.

 

Because the scammers just copy company names and real employee names from the Internet. And they feed these names to newbies. And newbies google the names and then abandon all sense because they think they're dealing with a real company. If you google names, you are going to waste your time and get your money stolen. Just stop.

re: "Is this a common interaction on Upwork?"

 

Yes.

It is very, very common. And it is always a scam.

 

The reason it is common is because so many newbies have been tricked and have had their money stolen, that it is very profitable for scammers to run this scam here.

 

Typically newbies lose between $1000 to $3000 when they get tricked by this scam.


This would NOT be common on Upwork if newbies would read and follow the rules. But as long as newbies jump in without reading the rules, and as long as they fall for this scam, it will keep happening.

@ Preston H.:  I disagree with your advice.  I don't disagree that this may be a method whereby scammers trick newbies and one needs to be very careful and practice due diligence.  However, as you know, there are numerous legitimate people, companies, websites...  In my personal case doing additional research to what is provided about the potential Client/their company via Upwork (which oftentimes is extremely limited) has served me very well.  It's assisted me in determining who to stay away from and who to pursue.  Each one that I've pursued has very positively commented regarding what I've known about them...; several have actually stated that no one from Upwork has ever done that before or similar.   I'm confident this has greatly assisted me in obtaining offers, contracts...

Pat: You're not a newbie who hasn't read the directions.

 

My advice wasn't for you.

 

There is no harm at all in somebody like yourself googling company names or looking at websites.

 

Personally, I find it unnecessary. I have completed over 110 jobs without ever googling company or client names. But there's no reason for you to avoid doing so.

@ Preston H.:  I didn't agree with your advice to the OP.  I googled... when I was a newbie. 

 

I definitely believe that due diligence is very important.  Of course caution and safety are as well.  

 

Some of us will find it necessary to do; others, such as yourself, won't.  "Different strokes for different folks," right?  Woman Wink

@ Emma H.:  It's definitely a scam and there are numerous mentions of this type as well as others within several threads within this Community.  If you're serious about being a Freelancer via the Upwork platform, you really need to review Vladimir G's. post w/ links, "Getting Started on Upwork."   Here it is:  https://community.upwork.com/t5/New-to-Upwork/Getting-Started-on-Upwork/m-p/264214#U264214

sarlota
Community Member

Hi there,

I have a question about working permits and government deposit for a particular country.

Client claims that I need a working permit for his country and according the law there is a deposit which needs to be paid to government as well. I've found the working permit law and there is even a bit wich confirms deposit for the employee and any companies in that region.  But still I don't feel comfortable to pay it (it's not a small amount) thou clinet says they will send my money back within hour.

In the previous post there is a note that deposits are big NONO. The payment is only via Western Union - which rings my inner alarm. What are your ideas about it?

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Sarlota,

 

Please note that you need to accept payments only through Upwork, should never pay in order to start working and should nave work without an active contract on Upwork. The client you communicated with was removed from Upwork soon after posting their job, so please stop communicating with them and review our tips for avoiding questionable jobs.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

Sarlota:

 

It doesn't matter what any country's work permit laws are. It doesn't matter what you think you found.

 

Upwork is a platform through which small businesses (clients) purchase services from other small businesses (freelancers).

 

Upwork freelancers do not pay fees to clients.

 

There is no job here.

The "client" you were communicating with is a scammer. He wants to trick you into paying him money. Western Union is used to send money in a way that is untraceable and unrecoverable.

 

The important thing for you to understand (aside from the fact that paying such money would violate Upwork rules and possibly get you suspended) is this:

 

There is NO JOB. There is no money to be made. There is only a scam.

jadesparks
Community Member

I have a question about the monthly wages one. There is a job I am interested in and it lists $500 fixed price but is for ongoing work of a certain amount of articles per month. Does this mean $500 a month, which as a very new writer I'd be fine with, or $500 flat for who knows how long? I'm new to this site and haven't bought a paid membership yet so I don't want to waste connects. Also, if I do go for it and get it but they do switch and bait, can I pull out or am I stuck? 

When you apply for the contract and the client choses your proposal to contact, you can discuss the logistics of the job before accepting any offer and ask what the $500 payment entails. Make sure your conversations are documented in Messages, that way if any issue arises you will have documentation on what was agreed upon.

Untitled
fredanomo
Community Member

I WISH I HAD SEEN THIS HOURS AGO! Especially the ebay one! Unfortunately now I have two bad reviews, and that was my personal account for selling. 

aocumen
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Freda, 

I am not aware of the details of your contract with your client, but I would like to share that jobs that violate other platform or website's ToS is not allowed in Upwork. 

 

Please check the freelancer resources we compiled and tips for avoiding questionable jobs, for more information about working safely through Upwork.


~ Avery
Upwork


@Freda N wrote:

I WISH I HAD SEEN THIS HOURS AGO! Especially the ebay one! Unfortunately now I have two bad reviews, and that was my personal account for selling. 


 lol did you really let someone use your ebay account? And it's still active?

liquidom0092
Community Member

 

 

fredanomo
Community Member

No the client asked if I could use the account I have, which he tracked down, I am closing the account and ending work with the client. I was skeptical at first and because I'm completely new, I didn't know what to do. This is my first bad experience, so now I'll try to weed out bad clients and trust my gut
fredanomo
Community Member

I think it's a scam ๐Ÿ˜ž

Freda: anybody who wants to use YOUR personal eBay account for THEIR financial gain is a bad client.

tuoa
Community Member

This is the first time I read this, I have been on upwork for quite sometime, but I haven't received not even one job yet, however I have been in a number of interviews, designed for 2 clients.. who only came up with excuses later after receiving the samples, 

 

I was suspicious but because I have not received any clients, I sort of became desperate

 

 

tuoa
Community Member

This is the first time I read this, I have been on upwork for quite sometime, but I haven't received not even one job yet, however I have been in a number of interviews, designed for 2 clients.. who only came up with excuses later after receiving the samples, 

 

I was suspicious but because I have not received any clients, I sort of became desperate

 

 

gladysramos
Community Member

"Buyers trying to use feedback to change the terms after the job has started, however, should be reported."

 

How, and to whom can we report them?

Hi Gladys,

 

Please share all the relevant information supported by screenshots of the client's request with Customer Support. Our team will follow up to review the case and take appropriate steps. Thank you.

~ Vladimir
Upwork
kumorimyujishan
Community Member

Despite an irrelevant dig at Trump, this is a very useful thread. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

ezzatt
Community Member

Extremely helpful

jackie_linn
Community Member

Great info! Thank you!

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Linn

saumitra-tiwari
Community Member

Thank you for this exhaustive list.

Makes my quest for a good project easy.

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