Looking For a New Job After Unemployment? Look For These Red Flags!

If you're searching for work now, you're not alone. Millions of Americans are looking to return to their jobs after being furloughed and laid off. Especially with even the less generous provisions of the CARES Act expiring on December 26, 2020, the search has become intense for many people.

You're likely completing job searches for two reasons. First, you likely want suitable employment with reliable income. Second, if you are receiving unemployment aid, you may be required to document these searches. However, before you click the next "Apply" button, make sure that the listing doesn't contain any of these COVID-market red flags!

Salary Not Listed

Though not listing the salary is common practice in some industries, this can be a bad sign. It could mean that the employer is banking on people assuming they'll pay the market rate. Some predatory employers are taking advantage of the current level of desperation some people are experiencing by posting high-responsibility jobs with no salaries.

Once these are posted, they usually get a stream of qualified applicants. They then make their choice and send their chosen employee an offer letter with a minimum wage salary and no benefits. If the employee doesn't take the job, the employer typically threatens to report them to their state's Department of Labor or similar for failure to accept suitable employment when offered.

You can typically get out of these ensnaring traps by attending a Department of Labor hearing, but these are usually backlogged for months. In the meantime, you risk losing whatever unemployment compensation you may have been getting. To dodge this bullet, you can simply reach out to an employer who posted a job you're interested in but failed to add the salary. If they don't respond, it's time to move on.

Jobs Including Training

First, let's clarify that some completely legitimate jobs include training as part of them. After all, everyone needs to upgrade their skillsets periodically to stay "relevant" in the labor market. However, there are some large companies who use "training on the job" as a way to pay you almost nothing.

The way this usually works is the employer lists a job that looks like it pays quite well after an "initial training period" of an unspecified length. While some employers are generous enough to pay the full salary during this period, most are not. You could receive minimum wage during this period, or you could receive nothing at all, yet still be legally considered "employed". This is because some employers can classify you as an "intern" without a time limit and essentially have you perform the functions of an employee without the pay or benefits.

Again, you should simply ask for what the pay during training is in writing. If the duration of the training period isn't included, you should also grab this information before proceeding with an employer.

A "1099" Job

If you're interested in working for yourself or becoming a freelancer, chances are that you're familiar with the concept of a 1099 tax form. This is where you fill out your business deductions, gains, profits, and more.

While this is suitable for those looking to start up their own businesses or sole proprietorships, it's not a great idea for those looking for stable employment. Quite often, companies will list "1099 jobs" that look easy enough and are based on commission. Keep in mind that you typically will receive no benefits from these jobs, such as health insurance. You'll either need to use the Healthcare.gov marketplace for insurance or buy it out of pocket.

Technically, you would be considered "self-employed" even though there's a company behind the 1099 telling you what to do. While this designation may sound nice, it comes at a cost. Because you are employing yourself, you'll need to make the employer's Social Security and Medicare contributions to your paycheck. In addition to standard federal, state, and local income taxes, you will need to pay a whopping 15.3% flat-rate FICA income tax on your earnings! In traditional jobs, this amount is cut in half, with your employer putting in half and you putting in half.

Don't Give Up!

Even though we've spent most of this article discussing the practices of unscrupulous employers, remember that most of the listings you're reading do have promise! You'll simply need to exercise caution and be patient before you land your next job.

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