Red flags to consider when applying for freelance jobs

THE nation has witnessed a switch in the working trend especially now with the on-going pandemic, where freelancing has emerged as one of the preferred modes of income.

According to the World Bank data in October 2020, 25.15% of Malaysia’s workforce are self-employed, with a portion attributable to freelancers.

Freelancing appeals to those who want to explore different industries or acquire new skills and knowledge as it gives people the chance to pursue their passions and be entrepreneurs without abiding by the stringent 9-to-5 working hours.

However, self-employment is a double-edged sword, stated Gigworks.

While freelancing in Malaysia has been incredibly empowering lately, every wrong step has a price to pay. This is because scammers are constantly looking to take advantage of eager gig workers.

The freelance marketplace cautioned, although having the freedom to make decisions and to determine working environment may sound tempting, it was crucial not to neglect the risks associated with it.

It noted that receiving constant and prompt payments was one of the few struggles freelancers faced.

“As some freelancers do not get to meet their clients or employers face-to-face, this creates the opportunity to be ‘ghosted’ by their clients – making it difficult for freelancers to track them down for overdue payment,” it said.

Gigworks chief executive officer and founder Glenn Tay shared that freelancers were often misled to work for free, hence they were easily deceived by attractive rewards.

“Sketchy job listings are commonly sighted, and unfortunately, without warning labels. Most freelancers have seen their fair share of fraudulence, especially those who are inexperienced in the industry. Though self-employment is extremely alluring for the money, it is important to be vigilant of the ‘red flags’ associated with the job,” said Glenn.

Gigworks has listed some of ways to identify credible freelancing job listings to prevent freelancers from becoming a victim of fraud.

Firstly, it advised freelancers to sign a contract before engaging with a client.

 It explained that contracts were legally binding agreements that allowed both the business and worker to deliver and clarify their roles in the deal, preventing miscommunications and disputes from arising.

“Regardless of who you are doing the work for, sign an agreement that establishes the work, fees, and the time and mode of payment. Once both parties sign and date the document, they are good to go,” it stated.

Secondly job seekers were advised to be wary of fake job postings even on official websites.

“Take your time to scroll through their profile and only accept jobs from employers with a verified rating, as this determines that the client is genuine.

“Additionally, you may search for reviews online to determine if your client is able to meet their contractual obligations,” Gigworks recommended.

Moving on, it said suspicious payment methods was another cause for concern.

Gigworks said scams may also occur through unusual payment systems such as vouchers, gift cards and other forms of goods and services instead of cash.

As such the best way to avoid being scammed it said, was to use familiar payment methods.

Aside from these, Gigworks also advised freelancers to avoid contacting clients outside official channels.

If deals were to be made outside official platforms, freelancers were advised to create a business email address to protect and record every agreement being made, as this would enhance the credibility for job opportunities.

“Freelance sites are often equipped with integrated communication systems that allow both parties to communicate and make deals without divulging personal information. This provides privacy protection for workers, preventing fraud and allowing paper trail,” it remarked.

Lastly, Gigworks prohibited freelancers against paying to work.

 It explained that legitimate freelance job listings did not oblige one to pay for an interview.

“Do not fall for false promises made by the organisation such as securing plentiful tasks or rewards after paying an entry fee.

“More often than not, these clients do not have the integrity to keep their promises and you will wind up on the losing end,” it said.

“Many scams often involve taking advantage of people eager to increase their savings quickly. Although cruel and extremely unethical, many people are willing to exploit the emotions of these troubled freelancers, especially during worrisome times like this, when the future of their cash flow remains unknown,” added Glenn. – Oct 18, 2020



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