Unemployment: Knowing when a job looks too good to be true

Minimum wage jobs are always in need of being filled. Unfortunately employers who know this also know that not many qualified people will seek out minimum wage work unless there are benefits other than pay. Because of this, many employers use hidden wage tactics which inflate the pay rate.

Vague Job Promises

If, when at a job interview, employers offer the 'possibility' of certain aspects of a job, be aware. This is one of many hidden wage tactics used to get around real issues of low wage job issues.

  • Having the possibility of something does not mean it will be guaranteed with the job.
  • Vague job descriptions or answers about the job.
  • The interview is as much about them as it is about you. Trust your feeling when it comes to honesty.
  • Immediate employment may just mean a warm body to the employer.

What you can do. Be aware that there are always low wage job issues.

Big Pay With Little Hours

Another hidden wage tactic found in applying for a low wage job, is the promise of a large hourly pay for part time work. Here's the trick:

  • The employer promises a high wage (say per hour) but then only allows a 20 hour week. This is a minimum wage job in many states.
  • The employer promises high earnings in the ad, but at the interview informs you that anything over a certain amount (usually state minimum) is commission based.
  • The employer hires you at a high pay but starts off with lower hours and many trainees This is followed by a constant flow of new trainees thereby keeping the salaries low.
  • The pay scale is based on incentive programs and bonuses per level of sales.

What you can do. Know what the job would pay for a 40 hour week and base the pay scale on that. A way to figure pay with commissions and incentives is to figure on no sales, tips, commissions or bonus giving you the amount you would make per week. If you can still live on these new numbers, then you can afford to work the job.

Hidden Schedule Issues

This is an issue which comes with many low wage jobs in the retail and service industry. While not entirely the employers fault, many employers are unwilling to plan around it. The issue is when the end of a shift requires you to stay longer than the schedule states.

  • The schedule will not list a closing time but rather the words 'closing' or 'closer'.
  • There is an unwritten rule that shift endings are not exact.
  • You are required to remain at work until everything is handled.
  • You are required to 'clock out' when business is slow
  • You are placed 'on call' on your days off.

What you can do. Be aware of how the job scheduling impacts your life. Try to plan accordingly if you are consistently leaving later than scheduled or always called in. Make the employer aware of any scheduling problems which occur from this issue.

Unnamed Cost Benefits

One of the many low wage job issues is benefits. Many employers will offer benefits to employees; the hidden wage tactic here is to tell the applicant about the benefits which come with the job, but not the cost of the benefits or many of the qualifications.

  • The need for a certain number of scheduled hours to qualify
  • The need to co-pay up to half of the premium
  • The need to have a very high deductible
  • Limited coverage
  • The waiting periods involved before filing a claim
  • Any information on the insurance company or policy

What you can do. If the employer brings up benefits ask for clarifications. Ask about qualifications and deductibles. Know what the benefits really are.