How to Avoid Job Scams: Learn to smell the phish

Pop-up ads on the internet with cheesy pictures of a person in their pajamas working on their laptop at home with Microsoft WordArt saying “Work at home and make $1000 a day!” can be spotted quite easily as a job scam. However, there are many other scams that aren’t as easy to spot.


If you remember my blog post, Understanding Multi-Level Marketing Companies, I go over how pyramid schemes work, the difference and similarities to multi-level marketing companies, and how to avoid being scammed.  Many seemingly innocent jobs can be potential job scams and here’s how to spot them:

Red flags

Being outright contacted by an employer who says you have the job (without an interview) is a sign you could be getting scammed. Would you want to hire someone without an interview first? Keep an eye out for a generic email address (yahoo, Gmail, etc. as opposed to an email associated with the company’s name) and never send your social security number, bank account/credit card numbers, or other personal information over email. Legitimate jobs will usually have you meet in person before signing any paperwork and will not prepay you for any services; certain Mystery Shopping scams break these rules.

When an employer sends you a check and/or asks you to wire money, this is also a huge red flag. Something isn’t right. Never wire or transfer money to anyone you don’t know (especially a Nigerian prince).

Do your homework

If the job posting seems fishy, your first instinct should be to conduct a Google search. Use phrases such as “is (company name) a scam” and check out any website listed in their posting. This can help you decide if you should trust the organization. Next, see if the recruiter is on LinkedIn. Finally, you can use the Better Business Bureau for smaller companies to see if they’re accredited. Accredited means that the business is legitimate and has a positive track record with employees and consumers.

NAU Career Development’s role

Recently, we had a couple of different job scams on Jobs for Jacks. Both were employers claiming to be small businesses here in Flagstaff, and both had seemingly legitimate job postings. But they were found to be fraudulent once they contacted students who then notified us.

Also keep in mind that any employer soliciting you on campus (handing out flyers on the pedway, etc.) should be solely here at the request of one of the career development offices on campus. If they seem suspicious to you, confirm with us that they are supposed to be on NAU campus.

Our job at Career Development is to review posts and research employers before we approve them for Jobs for Jacks. We have guidance on Jobs for jacks about the kinds of posts that are not appropriate. However, when it comes down to it, job scams are scams and the scammers will try and find ways around university policies in order to post on our site. If a job posting (on or off our site) seems fishy, contact us and we’ll help you determine if it’s worth trusting.


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Spooky Resume Mistakes

Whether you’re applying soon for a full-time job, a seasonal position for extra money to buy holiday gifts, or an internship for next summer, we can all agree that your resume is one of the most important tools in your career toolbox. A resume is a brief summary of who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve studied, and the skills you’ve gained.

Before you send your resume to employers, be sure to avoid these “spooky” resume errors (and refer back to one of our older posts about other common mistakes)!

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We don’t want potential employers looking at your resume with this reaction!

Meaningless Objective Statements

You’re an accounting major, applying to an accounting internship, and your objective statement is “To find an accounting internship.” Avoid this redundancy and scrap the objective statement altogether. Instead, use this space at the very beginning of your resume for a short, bulleted list of your qualifications, called a “summary of qualifications” or “qualifications summary.”

Including References

You should always have a list of references on hand, but leave them off of your resume. You can give them to a recruiter once they ask for them.

Keep your dates consistent

If the dates you list for each position you worked don’t match up with your application or what you say in an interview, this could be a red flag to a recruiter.

Using generic templates

As I’ve said before, your resume is an important tool. Chances are, if you’re using a generic Word template, a recruiter has already seen it. Although it will take more time, craft your resume yourself or make your own changes to existing templates to keep it unique to you.


Every person is different – not all people can keep their vast experience to one page. If you do need to go to another  page, fill it up. If you only need to go a few sentences over, change the margins or font sizes on the first page to keep it to one page.

Visual Distractions

Pictures, inconsistent and/or hard to read font styles, and different colors can make a resume distracting. Small font sizes can make reading your resume very difficult for the recruiter or hiring manager. Keep your resume simple! Use black and white text. Choose a font that is easy to read and use it consistently throughout, using italics and bold to make headers stand out, as opposed to mixing fonts. Use font size of 11 point or higher. Leave your picture off of your resume and check out this “what not to do” example:


Start editing your resume by fixing these mistakes and using our website resources, then stop in for walk-in advising at our new office space inside the Gateway Student Success Center Monday-Thursdays 12pm-2pm!

New Semester, New Changes with NAU Career Development!

A new academic year…a new us! Although it may sound cliché, it’s exactly how we feel. That’s because we have gone through a few changes.

First – we have changed our name from Gateway Career Services to NAU Career Development.

Second, as of last week, we have moved into our own, brand new office! We are still located in the Gateway Student Success Center but are in our own room.  Seniors, grads, and alumni will remember that this used to be The Snack Shack. You would never know that our office used to be a stop for snacks and pizza!

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The new office includes a beautiful view of fall’s changing leaves!

Although we won’t be giving you an MTV Cribz tour of our new space, we encourage you to stop by. Drop-in hours are Monday-Thursday from 12pm-2pm. Come see the office for resume and cover letter review, LinkedIn critiques, or Jobs for Jacks help!

Celebrating 20,000 Views!

I’m happy to announce that this blog has hit 20,000 views and we couldn’t do it without our wonderful readers! If you’ve made it from our very first blog post to Last Minute Career Attire Tips and followed us all the way to Multi-Level Marketing Companies, then we owe you an even bigger thank you.

We now have over 20,000 views, 52 subscribers, 66 posts, and readers in over 100 countries. Our topics have ranged from networking at a sustainability conference to gaining transferable skills through a sport or extracurricular activity. The Best Pandora Stations for Studying has been our highest viewed post, topping out at 11,500 views!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more career advice from NAU Career Development!


The NAU Fall 2014 Career and Graduate School Fair Approaches!

If you haven’t seen our 10 day countdown to the Fall 2014 Career and Graduate School Fair on our social media, let me be the first to tell you: it’s almost here! The event will be on September 24th from 12pm-4pm at the HLC Mac Gym with recruiters, graduate schools, and law schools in attendance. Whether you are looking to continue your education, are seeking an internship, are seeking full time employment, or simply want to research organization or practice your networking skills, there is something there for you.

Have you been to a career fair before? If not, NAU Career Development is here to support you. The prospect of talking to recruiters can be intimidating, but if you prepare beforehand, you will feel confident and rock the fair.katie Career fair


  1. Get started by registering for the event in Jobs for Jacks and enabling text message reminders. From there, start researching potential employers.
  2. How does your resume look? Get it shaped up by attending our drop-in hours Monday-Thursday from 12pm-2pm at Gateway Student Success Center. We will be holding extended drop-in hours at the HLC on Monday, September 22nd, from 11am-3pm in honor of National Career Development Week!
  3. Never attended a career fair or a little intimidated? Check out our website for how to prepare, follow-up, and what to do at the actual event.
  4. Don’t be “that” person at a career fair in Ugg boots or basketball shorts. Check out places like Runway Fashion Exchange, GoodWill, or Savers to find professional clothes on a budget. Check out our What to Wear board on Pinterest for ideas! While you’re at the career fair, be sure to stop by our professional photo booth for a headshot in your career attire.
  5. Craft your elevator speech, which is a short introduction about yourself designed to give an impression on a recruiter about your interests and qualifications. If you don’t have time – don’t worry. We’ll have a station for you to practice your elevator speech before you walk into the fair.
  6. Strategize what you will do during the actual fair. Instead of walking around aimlessly, write down who you want to talk to, about what, and how long you will be there.
  7. Remember to follow-up by writing a thank-you letter or even adding the recruiter on LinkedIn!

We can’t wait to see you at the fair! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for our daily countdown and helpful tips.

NAU Athletes Gain Transferable Skills

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Many students scramble to find part-time jobs during the school year to help pay for necessities or even fully support their school expenses (massive props to you folks). While these students gain valuable job experience, there are others that are not able to hold even a part-time job due to extensive commitments. Our busy NAU athletes rarely have time to fit in a job in addition to their academic and sports obligations- yet they still gain valuable transferable skills.  How do they do it? Nicole Sherwin, majoring in biomedical science from San Diego, plays center mid on the NAU Women’s soccer team and shared her experiences with us.


What is an average day like for Nicole?

“Every day involves some sort of workout (sometimes two); whether that is a practice, weight-room session, or “day off” gym workout on my own. I go to my classes and usually stay on campus before practice. In the locker room we have a meeting room with a smart board and I like to go in there to study and sometimes watch a game that is on that day. Once 1:00 rolls around I get dressed for practice and head to the training room to get taped or do rehab exercises. Once practice is over, sometimes I have to go straight to another class so I either grab a snack from the HLC pharmacy or eat something I packed. After class (I usually get home between 8 or 9, depending on the day and the lab), I make and eat dinner, study, and then sleep. On the days I don’t have after practice class, I go home earlier and have more time to study.”

Needless to say, Nicole’s busy! When asked if time-management is an important part of being a collegiate athlete, she said:

“Most definitely. There are many things that a student-athlete has to learn to keep in balance to be successful. There are practices I can’t miss, weight-room trainings I can’t miss, classes I have to be at, and homework problems to do. Not to mention fitting in meals, and sleep that are essential for physical and mental success. I find that there are parts of my schedule that are more flexible, like when I choose to study and sleep, and there are the concrete factors like practices and classes that I can’t choose a time for… I find that I have to study in between my commitments and sometimes at weird times or in weird places, especially when on the road for competition.”

Time management is a major skill that employers look for. Being able to manage your time shows organization and ability to prioritize responsibilities. What about communication?

“Every game requires communication. In soccer, we don’t get timeouts. We have the game and we have half-time to solve any problems we come across. Communication on the fly is essential for the team to do well. We signal, point, yell, make eye contact, talk when the ball goes out-of-bounds, listen, watch. I remember a specific time when I just made eye contact with one of my forwards, (she was my roommate for a while so I guess you could say we didn’t need much more than that to communicate) and she made the perfect run behind the defense as I lobbed the ball over. I don’t think it ended up being a goal-scoring play, but it was definitely a successful one.”


Demonstrating to an employer that you have the necessary skills doesn’t always mean using previous jobs as an example. In Nicole’s case, her ability to communicate during half-time is a valid demonstration of her communication skills. Nicole told us how she feels her role as a college athlete will help her in her career:

“All the lessons that I have learned and the skills I have developed via soccer have made me a stronger person overall. I don’t give up, I can work with people, I take responsibility for my faults as well as my successes, I learn from every situation, good or bad, and know how to push myself to my limits. I know how to stay organized, punctual, and focused. I know how to manage my time and represent myself and my institution in a positive way. I know how to be humble, I know how to problem solve, and I’ve learned to appreciate every opportunity I get.”

Already, we have learned that Nicole has gained time-management, communication, focus, and punctuality from being on the NAU women’s soccer team.  These are all highly valuable, transferable job skills!  If you thought that sports were only about athleticism and Gatorade cooler dumps on coaches, you might be mistaken! Nicole has shown us that you don’t necessarily need a job or internship to gain career-relevant skills.

When Nicole brings her resume draft to our walk-in career advising session, we’ll be able to elaborate on all of her abilities! If you want to get some more awesome information on career-relevant skills you might not have thought of, be sure to check out our Professional Development Guide.


Summer TBT Series: Tips for Incoming Freshman and The Flagstaff Guide

Starting out at NAU, whether you’re a freshman or transfer student, can be intimidating. Read my tips for incoming freshman where I give important advice such as deciding whether you really need a job right away, not speeding on I-17, and how important ear plugs and an eye mask can be with a roommate in the dorms.


My roommates and I on a trip to Denver, CO

Once you get settled in, you have to take advantage of the beautiful city we live in, Flagstaff.  It’s kind of amazing living in a place surrounded by mountains, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Jerome. There are also certain things best experienced – like eating at the best family-owned Greek restaurant at 11pm just north of campus or watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon!

Photo from Visit Flagstaff facebook

Wherever you choose to explore, so many good adventures await you! We’re glad to have you at NAU and with us here on the Flagstaff Mountain campus. Be sure to read my list of Top 10 Things to Do in Flagstaff, AZ to make the most of your experience here.

NAU Part-Time Job Fair is almost here!

STUDENT FLIERS PTJOBFAIR (2)Have you thought about or searched for a job for the upcoming school year? Make sure you grab your resume and stop by the Part-Time Job Fair on August 22nd from 1pm-4pm! There will be 30 employers attending, all hiring on the spot for on and off campus part-time positions.  Last year, we had about 100 positions available and 600 students in attendance– so it was competitive.  Help yourself stand out and make sure you dress sharp, get there early, and bring your resume. Even if you aren’t looking for a job right away, this is a chance to see how a job fair works and maybe even network.

If you’re wondering what the difference between a job and career fair is, learn more here. As always, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for reminders up to the event. See you on Friday at the South Gym in the Health and Learning Center!


Understanding Multi-Level Marketing Companies

Perhaps you’ve received a message or seen a Facebook status about opportunities with companies like Wake Up Now or Vector Marketing. Maybe you’ve even been recruited to a presentation about WorldVentures with the promise of free pizza (who could pass that up?!). If you felt confused or suspicious after claims of working your own hours, taking extravagant vacations, and making $15/hour or more, let’s clear that up.

Multi-level marketing is a networking strategy in which IBO’s (Independent Business Owners), also known as the salespeople, are compensated not only for the products they sell, but also for the sales of those they recruit, referred to as the recruiter’s downline. This means that the person who signed you up can make more than you, hence the term ‘multi-level.’ Multi-level marketing, sometimes called pyramid selling, is completely legal and its business model is similar to a pyramid scheme, which is illegal, with a few differences. Pyramid schemes rely on sign-up fees from new recruiters rather than compensation from selling a product. This model is unsustainable because eventually it will become impossible for those at the bottom to make any money (or get their sign-up fee back).


At a certain point in a pyramid scheme, the newest recruits at the bottom would have to equal the world’s population in order to sustain the business, which is impractical and unsustainable

Do Your Research

It is possible to make money working for a multi-level marketing company. If you care more about flexibility and/or developing work experience than making a guaranteed salary, do your research and decide if it’s for you. In addition to conducting the necessary Google search, sites like GlassDoor provide reviews on companies by their employees. The Better Business Bureau helps consumers and potential employees identify trustworthy companies and sets standards for ethical business behavior. Consider checking if the company is Better Business Bureau accredited and read the BBB’s report on why. Also keep in mind that public companies legally have to publish Income Disclosure Statements and checking up on these might give you a better idea of how much you could make. For example, in 2013, 54% of Wake Up Now IBO’s made $0 on average a year.

On a similar note, using these research tactics can also help you when working for or donating to a charity or non-profit. Sites such as Charity Navigator evaluate non-profits based on how much they actually invest in their stated cause versus how much is spent on overhead such as CEO’s salaries.

Align Your Values

Many companies are notorious for using the bait-and-switch method by recruiting candidates based on promises of $14/hour but then telling you in the interview that this could be based on performance/commission. If a company reveals terms like these during an interview, decide if you can trust them and how important transparency is to you. On the other hand, if autonomy and flexibility are important to you, the right opportunity may be a good fit.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

If you choose to be affiliated with one of these companies, be prepared to answer questions about it in a future job interview.  Understand that an employer might have heard something negative so it’s your job to explain why you took the position and what you gained from it.


While multi-level marketing companies are legal, know the signs when you are actually being scammed. If a company sends you a check before you fill out any official tax documents (W-4 and I-9 in particular) there’s a good chance it’s a scam and they’re actually just phishing for information from your financial accounts.  Mystery Shopping positions with promises of being able to buy and keep products as well as ridiculous compensation are also common scams, as talked about in an earlier blog post. Remember to never to give out information such as your credit card number, bank account information, or social security number early in the search process or via phone or email. Organizations can legally ask for your social security number as part of a formal application process, and will need it if you are hired. All jobs, no matter where you find them, need to be investigated, and ultimately, it’s a matter of personal opinion as to what’s “right” for you. Don’t forget, you can always call or email NAU Career Development if you’re unsure of a position and need a second opinion.

Summer TBT Series: Career Journey Year 1

Whether you’re new to NAU or unsure where to start your career, the best time to prepare yourself is now.   Use this summer to think about your career and start with small steps such as gaining experience and developing skills through a part-time job and extracurricular activities. Whether you sit out by the pool creating a “career to-do-list” and reflecting on your strengths and values, or picking up applications from places in Flagstaff while attending orientation, you’re on the right track!


Read “Starting Your Career Journey: Year 1” to guide you on the beginning of your career path. Make sure to create an account on Jobs for Jacks, develop your resume using our online resources, and explore careers.   In between all that, be sure to enjoy your summer and soak up the sun before fall starts – it will be here before you know it!


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