Maria saw me on TV the other day talking about openings for ghostwriters for online dating sites. The gig had been posted on Craigslist.
"I need a job but I take care of my mother and disabled brother," Maria said. "Plus, I have two kids with different school schedules."
She said she likes the idea of working from home and setting her own hours. But she isn't sure a job like this is trustworthy. What's my advice?
My advice is to be careful — with this and all other work-from-home job offers.
In this case, the opening was for a "virtual dating assistant" with a flair for words who could pen online profiles and messages on behalf of love-seeking clients.
"Profiles and emails have to be a combination of fun and professional," the job listing said. "Completed profiles are 300-350 words, and emails 30-75 words."
It said ghostwriters "would need a fast turnaround — the longest is 48 hours for each profile and every 10 emails. Writing has to be good — when emails get a positive response then bonuses may be paid."
The size of those bonuses, it said, was "TBD," as in "to be determined," as in good luck with that.
Maybe this is all legitimate. Maybe there's lots of money to be made while still allowing you to meet the demands of your personal life.
Or maybe you'll put in some hours and discover that you're either being underpaid or not paid at all.
I'm wary of most work-from-home schemes. Simply put, there's little incentive for the operators of such things to reward or nurture employees. More likely, they'll get what they can out of you and then move on to the next sucker.
So, Maria, my advice is to give things like this a try if you feel optimistic. But first, do your homework. Google the employer and see what others are saying. Scan the cyber-horizon for red flags.
And always go into things like this with your eyes open and with reasonable expectations.