Job Board Postings: How to Read Between the Lines

Saturday, March 17, 2012
by LuAnn Schindler

Earlier this month, I wrote about differentiating between a legitimate job board posting and a scam.  The post shares red flags to look out for, as well as common-sense tips to prevent you from getting sucked in by scam artists.

I turned to freelancer Thursday Bram, a well-respected veteran writer. Her blog, The Business of Creativity, shares tips for fellow freelancers. She also supplies creative business help at Hyper Modern Consulting. Thursday was gracious to share her expertise, as well as examples.

If you're on Twitter, you can follow Thursday.

Let's take a look at job posting #1:

Editor for Manuscript Needed

Date: 2012-02-09, 11:30AM EST
Reply to:  [Errors when replying to ads?]

I am looking for someone with a background in Journalism and/or writing to review a manuscript for publishing.

Compensation will be determined based on experience.

If you have the experience please contact Herbert E. Brown at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: compensation to be determined

Thursday's interpretation of this posting: The fact that there's a name and a phone number on this listing is reassuring. A quick Google search shows that there are quite a few 'Herbert E. Browns', even if you add in the location. But it's also worth running the phone number through Google. No associations with scams or problems show up with the phone number, so I would go ahead and contact Herbert and ask for more information.

Let's take a look at job posting #2:

Seeking a TMZ type of writer ASAP (DMV)

Date: 2012-02-09, 7:37PM EST
Reply to:  [Errors when replying to ads?]

We are a online magazine - similiar to Maxim Magazine seeking a writer who can delivery our news stories in an explosive way.
NO gossip news - We are all about REAL stories/news.

IF you're ready to do something different - email us with your resume and information.
Pay based on experience.

Thank you.

  • Location: DMV
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: based on experience
Thursday's interpretation of this posting: There's very little information here. But there's no typos, unrealistic promises or anything like that. Because there's no contact information, I would email a bare bones resume and offer to send relevant clips if I can get their web address so that I can match it. I'll also ask for further information about the company—I have a certain feeling that this may be a brand new publication, which I prefer not to work with.

Let's look at job posting #3:

Editor for a financial newsletter and web articles

Date: 2012-02-10, 3:59PM EST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

We write about investments, accounting and economic topics of interest for individual and professional investors.

We seek far more than an expert in grammar and punctuation. We seek a person who can inject "life" into our writing; our subjects (and our writing) tend to be horribly dry and lifeless. We see the life in our work -- we write on the details, and we are genuinely excited about our work and our message. Communicating the importance of our work, to our reader, is our challenge. We need a writer that can make dry subjects more interesting to the reader. Can you edit/write to captivate the reader?

Do your skills include interviewing people and writing about their work & message?
Do you have the personality to be on camera?

Initially, we will generate all ideas for reports and the website articles; we'll pay a set modest fee for each article that you work on, that we use. That is non-negotiable. We have had "editors" rewrite articles to their satisfaction, yet, in our view they wasted our time and made no improvement in the communication. You must be willing to accept a relationship whereby, we will pay you only if we use your work. We will absolutely not use any work that we do not pay for. There are two pluses for your consideration; 1) To the degree that we like your work we will pay you, possibly very handsomely, and 2) If we like your work, we may add you to our roster of contributing professionals on our website -- this will provide you with visibility and publicity. This position may evolve into a monthly retainer position. We seek a long-term professional relationship, a person who will take increasing responsibility for all our written client communications.

Please submit a letter of your interest in the position and a letter of your qualifications.

We may request that you edit 1 or 2 of our articles. These will be articles that we have already published and we will NOT use your work in any way except to evaluate how well your skills match our needs.

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: Per Article We Publish

Thursday's interpretation of this job posting: This is actually a pretty good listing. It's clear that the people involved have some experience with freelancers. They're laying out very clearly what they want and while it's specific, it's also reasonable. I'm not thrilled that they're effectively asking someone to work without a guarantee that every piece of work would be used, but I'd be willing to do some deeper digging and have some conversations to make sure that there wouldn't be any problems. I would ask for information about the company upfront in my first contact but I would have no problem submitting a full copy of my resume to this ad.


Date: 2012-02-10, 12:35AM EST
Reply to:  [Errors when replying to ads?]


  • Location: NEW YORK
  • it's ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: NEGOTIABLE

PostingID: 2844008004

Thursday's interpretation of this posting:  Run away! There is nothing here and the odds of someone with a truly interesting autobiography to be written posting a request for writers on Craigslist is incredibly low. So move on to the next ad as quickly as possible.

And for the final posting to consider:

Business News Writers

The Global Minute, an emerging international news source, is seeking contributing writers. We cover world news, U.S news, business, politics, technology, health and education, sports, and entertainment.
Email resume and writing sample to editors @

  • Location: NY
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: no pay
PostingID: 2827372451

Thursday's interpretation of this posting: On the surface, this looks like a great option. The site name and even a link are right there—but there's no mention of pay in the listing itself and at the bottom it notes that there's no pay. Just because it could be a good gig if pay is available, I went and checked out the website. But no—the submission guidelines there lay out that writers only get exposure.

Writers need to read job postings thoroughly and conduct research about any job posting that appears too good to be true. A little analysis of a post can save you time, and ultimately, money. 

Many reliable, dedicated writing sites offer job boards. WOW!'s job board works in this way: Jobs featured at the very top have paid to be on the job board. These ads are screened.

The remainder of the job board works as an aggregator, meaning it filters job listings from around the web based on certain criteria: jobs that are for freelance writers, bloggers, editors, etc. WOW! doesn't personally screen jobs appearing in this area. They are part of a larger network - Simply Hired - which does screen jobs.

Using proven common-sense tips and checking reliable job boards will keep writers from falling prey to unscrupulous individuals.


Kelly Robinson said...

No typos in listing #2? I think the response to this one may have been swapped with another, surely? There are at least two huge honkers.

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