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How to Tell if the Freelance Gig is Legit

  • November 25, 2020

Getting the gig you really want is something to celebrate as an independent worker. We’ve been taught to do whatever it takes to win and get hired. However, you must be mindful of any red flags that catch your attention. Sometimes the project can be too good to be true, or just straight up shady.
According to the Freelancers Union, 44% of freelancers claim they have been stiffed from a client and average around 36 hours of work to track down missing payments. Always protect yourself by always sending contracts to your clients. Though they may not always be followed, it gives you legal backing just in case something goes wrong. This post gives you 5 tips to being sure the freelance job listing you’re reviewing and ultimately applying to is legit.

Verify the company.

Take the time to visit the company’s website and explore what they do. This is not only great technique to help you prepare for an interview but also is a great sign that the company is real. If the description on the freelance job listing website does not match the information on the company’s website, then that’s a hard red flag you can’t avoid.
Do your homework before accepting, and research the company. Use social media to your advantage and look at how the company market’s themselves. If they have sketchy accounts that look like spam, take a pass. Google their name and “scam” to take a peek if other people have already deemed this company as fake. Websites like The Rip Off Report and the Better Business Bureau will tell you if they’ve cheated other freelancers.
Glassdoor is another great resource that helps you review companies and job positions. Look through your respective company and skim through what people are saying. Remember that poor reviews and no reviews are two different things. Poor reviews just means that the job might not be great, but at least it’s a real job.

Read the application closely.

Be wary of overly vague descriptions when you’re looking through your freelance job listing. Be sure you aren’t overreaching, meaning that you should feel capable of your ability to do the work. Ask your client for a list of deadlines if you have a bunch of projects to take care of. If they can’t give you at least an estimate or don’t know what you’re gonna be working on at the moment, consider it a red flag.
Avoid getting cornered by making your client sign a contract first with a clearly defined description. Sometimes scammers might assign you a project that grossly understates how much work they need to have done. And once a contract has been signed, you won’t have to put yourself in that situation.
Make your #client sign a contract first with a clearly defined description. Click To Tweet
Our tip is to always ask questions about the company and the job description to tell what you’re actually going to be doing. The “no experience necessary” jobs you apply too should be handled with care. Most freelance jobs will require at least basic experience and certain skills to be used.

Do Not Pay

Legit companies will never ask you to pay for an interview or a resume review. Do not trust a freelance job listing that tells you they will send something as long as you wire money. For example, if your company tells you they will send you a laptop for work once you pay for a software, avoid them. Wiring money is also usually not the safest way to pay someone.
Sites like LinkedIn, AngelList, and UpWork are legitimate and secure job boards that help freelancers find work. There are hundreds of freelance job listings devoted to helping you find work, but if a client says that you must pay them before the start, it’s most likely a scam.

Be wary of spec work.

Some application processes take advantage of work-hungry freelancers by demanding ‘spec work.’ Speculative work is when the client wants to see examples or a free finished project before they hire or pay you. Writing samples and short writing tests can be a norm, but be careful when companies ask for complete, standalone tasks that have specific prompts. If it feels like free work, it might be.
Spec work puts independent workers in tough situations and most believe it’s a tell-tale sign of a fake job. If you have a website or an online portfolio, link them to your free samples there. If you have strong pieces, then writing samples should not be needed.

Find a human being.

Job boards and direct applications simplify the process for employers, but it can leave you floating in a sea of resumes. Plus many companies may not necessarily be active if they’re linked to several different freelance job listing boards.
If possible, find the appropriate hiring contact (if not listed in the application) via LinkedIn and send them a direct email. Make it short and sweet and let them know you applied through the preferred channel and you wanted to introduce yourself directly. Take initiative and ask if they’d be open to a brief call or Skype.
Find the appropriate hiring contact for the job and send them a direct email. Click To Tweet

Final Tips

Being self-employed takes a lot of work and if a potential job is offering you an incentive that is too good to be true, it may be worth doing some research. Though you may be in need of fast cash, stay one step ahead of scammers so you don’t fall into the trap of wasting your time and efforts. And finally, always require contracts so you are protected from any problems you might face.
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