Experts warn us to be cautious about replying to online job ads that do not include identifying information – especially when they do not include a website URL you can check out. Some say to ignore them altogether – citing all kinds of potential problems, from spam to scams.
Problem is, even legitimate businesses with real freelance or staff jobs post anonymously – and have been doing so in print Classifieds since long before the Internet. Sometimes they don’t want the world to know what they’re doing. Sometimes they don’t want to deal with continual job applicants after the position is filled or the gig is completed. And on the Web, job ads can live forever, so they do have a point. But that doesn’t help us identify them.
Compounding the “no website or person or company name” hurdle is the cloaked email for your reply. Many job posters on high-traffic sites such as Craigslist use the site’s email or a generic email such as Yahoo in order to prevent spambots or job seekers from contacting them forever. Once the job is filled, they can simply discontinue the temporary email account.
There’s nothing much you can do with anonymous e mailers other than send them something that might elicit a reply from their real email address, which may be a clue as to their website – and may even provide the website, address and other real-life info you need in their email signature.
Template for dealing with anonymous job postings
Here are some steps you can follow for “maybe this is viable – but probably not” job ads –
1. Do not invest much time in assembling a package of your background information, clips and samples until you can determine if it is a serious and legitimate opportunity, and one you feel good about.
2. Instead, put together a simple, generic one-page backgrounder highlighting your expertise, abilities, and experience. Save it as a PDF file so you can send it as an attachment; plus as a text file that you can copy and paste into the body of an email. You’ll be ready whichever they request.
Try to come up with one document that could be used for any of the “blind” postings you typically see as being possible for your expertise and interests – maybe two if you do both writing and editing, and have an extensive background in each area.
3. When you come across an anonymous job posting that looks possible, send the one-pager, along with an introduction along the lines of
“I’m interested in learning more about your needs in order to see if we might work together. If my background below (or attached) looks like what you are seeking, do get back to me by email or phone so we can discuss your project further.”
By having this set up, you’ll spend maybe 5–10 minutes on each lukewarm “opportunity,” then get on with other marketing or other projects. If you hear back, you can determine from the reply whether it is worth pursuing or even taking the time to research the company or individual on the Web or through other channels. If you don’t hear back, you haven’t wasted much time.
How do you deal with job postings that cloak their identity? Do you ignore them? Do you have a strategy? Have you gotten much work from these types of job ads? Speak your mind below . . .