Summer’s almost here, and as scores of high school and post-secondary students rush into the job market, the risk of applying for a bogus job are heightened. Seasonal work provides students with a limited window of opportunity to work and save up some money for the rest of the year, so while you may be in ‘gotta get a job’ panic mode, fraudulent employers are also looking at how they can scam you. So don’t risk squandering your summer break when even just a little bit of homework can save you a lot of time, annoyance and money.
Our best tip is to work for an organization or business you (or your family/friends) otherwise know, support or frequent. Since this is not always possible, keep an eye out for these ‘red flag’ job descriptions that have made it into the news recently. Note as well that these job titles may lead you to legitimate jobs, so make good use of your search engine, email and phone, to dig a little deeper. For example, Google the company name and “scam”; this could lead you into some interesting directions.
Here are the top employment scams to watch for this job-hunting season:
• Mystery Shopper or ‘Follow the Bouncing Cheque’: The job might be to test the services of a cheque-cashing or a money transfer company. The offer usually contains a fraudulent cheque along with instructions for you to cash the cheque and transfer a portion of the sum over a money transfer service to the name provided and ‘keep the rest’. When the cheque is discovered to be fraudulent, victims are held accountable for the entire amount. There are many versions of this, including Movie Reviewer, Writer, etc. that involve receiving large sums, then returning all or part of that amount, followed by a bouncing cheque and grief.
• Envelope Stuffer: This may sound like an easy job, but you could be asked to spend your own money on advertising material, postage, even the envelopes themselves. Remember, you may be asked to ‘pay to play’, but being asked to ‘pay to work’ is a red flag.
• Product Assembler: Training videos for these projects are either incomplete or make the job seem easier than it really is. Some craft assembly companies require an up-front training fee, which could be a warning sign.
• Data Enterer, Timesheet Filler, Medical Biller or Coupon Clipper: Promising high wages for simple data entry is a red flag. Legitimate job postings will hire for administrative professionals, secretaries or typists. You may be required to purchase special software to perform these tasks from home, only to find out the software program is loaded with glitches, and may require extra funds on your part to fix them Be wary of get rich quick offers and obvious pyramid schemes.
Here are some tips to help you avoid these scam jobs:
• If it’s too-good-to-be-true, it likely is. If you are offered a job without a formal interview or job application, it could be a scam. If an employer offers you a lot of money for simple work or to work at home, it is most likely too-good-to-be-true.
• Get it in writing. If the employer does not provide you with the details of the job in writing, be wary. A written offer or contract should clearly outline the responsibilities, qualifications as well as the specific terms and conditions.
• Research the business. If the employer does not provide you with the business’ location and contact information and you cannot find it on their website, consider it a red flag. Google it.
• Do not hand over money or personal information before you’re hired. If the employer requires fees for training, background checks or drug tests, it could be a scam. Remember you will not be asked to pay for a job.
Need to build up that resume, but can’t find the work to do it? It’s kind of a catch-22 situation when you need the skills to get a job, but need a job to get the skills.There are many reasons to volunteer; a quick search of the web will provide you with a plethora of information of the benefits of volunteering your time. As a job seeker there are benefits that could directly enhance your ability to find a position in the career of your dreams.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in the field of your choice. If you choose something you are interested in, spending your time volunteering won’t feel like work at all. If you are interested in working in the Health industry, volunteer some of your time at the local hospital. Want to be a teacher, check and see if there is room to volunteer with a local school. Love sports? Why not become a coach and help younger people grow their skills.But the benefits don’t stop there. Volunteering can promote personal growth and help build self-esteem which can benefit anyone looking for work.
Help your community and network while you’re doing it.
It is well documented that most job openings are not even advertised. Employers may not have the time or energy to advertise their positions. By volunteering in your community you can meet and network with other volunteers. Someone may know about an opportunity that is suitable for you. Use your volunteering experience to meet new people and make new friends. Broaden your social network and get to know others with similar interests. There are many benefits from volunteering for you and for your community. Spend a little time helping others and be sure to choose something you are interested in.
What to avoid.
Be careful of taking on volunteer work that is “close to home”. This means to take care that your personal issues and feelings don’t spill over into the volunteer work in a way that impacts negatively upon you.Avoid volunteer activities for which you don’t have the temperament. For instance, don’t become a volunteer firefighter if you’re afraid of fire or you lack physical fitness. Don’t become a volunteer health assistant if you faint at the sight of blood. Volunteer Powell River is a great place to start your search for the perfect place to volunteer your time.
Coming on the heels of our Earth Week special series of blog posts on “Green” jobs, this month in Career Sense we feature Adventure and Accessible Tourism as a “Green” career option. The Adventure Tourism industry is gaining in popularity all the time, and especially in smaller markets like Powell River, it is a notable seasonal career option that also highlights economic diversification, contributing to our local economy in a sustainable way, if carefully managed.
The beauty of our natural surroundings is undeniable, and it makes sense to highlight it for visitors worldwide, making it accessible to them as well as helping to support local businesses and job-seekers. When done right and on a small community scale, this budding industry can increase the value of maintaining our natural environment, even from an environmental as well as economic point of view.
Did someone say “accessible”?
Speaking of “accessible”, Powell River is a good example of a tourism destination for persons with mobility challenges, with two noteworthy accessible tourism locations:
Inland Lake Campsite Trail System (a thirteen KM trail built around Inland Lake was finished in 1989 thatwon the Premier’s Award of Excellence in Design ) and
Mermaid Cove Dive Site (completely wheelchair accessible dive site with volunteer instructors which can be found at Mermaid Cove situated at the Saltery Bay Provincial Park).
Accessible tourism can also represent a viable and growing niche market, especially with an ageing population, and where “travelers with disabilities make up one of the fastest growing tourism market opportunities. One in eight people worldwide lives with a disability; in North America alone, people with disabilities currently spend more than $13 billion each year on travel.”Source BC Government website
The Rick Hansen Foundation has developed planat, which is an easy-to-use online ratings tool (www.planat.com) that allows users to post and search accessibility reviews of buildings and public spaces in communities around the world from a mobility, sight or hearing perspective.
First Steps to Employment
A good first step in getting work in the Tourism industry generally is to gain some essential training that, as Jenni Hopkyns, Manager of Training Services at Tourism British Columbia says are “the best way to start or get ahead in the tourism industry”. Here are some training programs you should consider:
FOODSAFE™: A program focusing on the dangers and prevention of food poisoning. In fact, operators of a food establishment must have a FOODSAFE certificate. Regardless of whether you’re applying for an entry-level or senior position, potential employees who have completed this training are usually the preferred candidates. This training can be done in the classroom or via correspondence. For more information, visit FOODSAFE.
Serving It Right™: A self-study program that teaches the responsible service of alcohol. In order to work as a bartender or serve in a liquor establishment in BC, you are required to have this certificate. While this program provides excellent training for all servers, it is necessary for those working in private liquor stores, casinos and lounges. For more information, visit Serving It Right.
SuperHost®: Internationally recognized workshops for training in customer service. With various workshops ranging from the fundamentals of SuperHost® customer service to how to offer the best service across cultures and to those with disabilities, these workshops provide an effective training tool for anyone dedicated to providing exceptional customer service. For more information, visit Tourism BC.
emerit Professional Certification: A line of Canadian-made tourism training products to help take your career to the next level. For more information, visit emerit.
WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System): WHMIS training, Canada’s hazard classification and information standard, is a national requirement for all employees who may come in contact with hazardous materials at work. Visit www.nationalsafetycouncils.ca.
First Aid Certification: All companies within British Columbia are required by law to meet the requirements of WorkSafeBC in terms of first aid services—including having at least one staff member who is certified in first aid treatment. For more information, visit www.worksafebc.com under Safety.
Do I Need a Post-secondary Degree to Pursue a Career in Tourism?
Tourism is an increasingly sophisticated sector, and as with every industry, post-secondary education will offer you more opportunities to advance into management positions. Ideally, a combination of education and experience will help you move forward in your career. Here are some of the post-secondary schools in BC that offer tourism courses and programs.
Simon Fraser University – various courses and programs in business administration, marketing, business management, and professional development www.sfu.ca
Thompson Rivers University – various programs in accommodation management, adventure guiding and food and beverage management www.tru.ca
Tourism Training Institute – various courses in tourism business management, hospitality operations and cruise hospitality www.tourismti.com
University of Northern British Columbia – various programs in natural resources management and resource-based tourism www.unbc.ca
University of Victoria – bachelor of commerce in hospitality services managementwww.uvic.ca
Vancouver Community College – hospitality management degree, baking and culinary arts courses www.vcc.ca
Finding Local Work in Tourism/Adventure (Summer list)
go2 is BC’s tourism human resource association, responsible for providing labour market information, and programs and resources for recruitment, retention and training that support the growth and success of B.C.’s tourism and hospitality industry. Below are local links to individual sub-sectors that will link to maps with colourful markers that when selected, display tourism business names and sometimes links.
You can also try the website goodworkcanada.ca for more specifically Eco-tourism/Sustainable Tourism jobs or drop by Career Link so we can chat about some options, and you can book an appointment to see one of our counsellors.