I have a friend. I can’t divulge his name, but he lives in Nigeria, and he’s one of the most powerful, wealthy men in that particular country. He’s also got a slight problem – there’s this absolute ton of money he’s nicked, and he needs someone to help him get it out of the country. All I’ve got to do is send him a cheque for ten grand, while he sends me one for fifteen. Simple, right? I’ve sent mine off ages ago, and he’s just sending me his. Only the queue at the post office is two to four years long. Pretty sweet, right?
If you’re out there, and you’ve fallen for this, I’m not going to take the whiz. Recently, I had a similar experience with a “man-in-the-phone” moment. My bank called me saying there’d been odd activity on my account. There hadn’t been, I assure you. Now, I’m fairly confident it was my bank, as I missed the original call, so called Abbey back directly and they seemed to know what I was talking about. But not all calls claiming to be from banks are the real deal.
When you’re contacted, you’re going to ask a lot of questions. I find I’m fairly protective. The only people I know who have the privilege of my email address (or, even rarer, my mobile phone number) are major online stores, business associates and close contacts. But when an email drops into my in-box talking to me personally and they seem to have my aims and goals down-pat, I tend to read it through, do some research, and listen. I’ve gained a few things that way – memorably, affiliates for my blog – and it only took me 20 minutes.
The downside to registering with a job site is the endless amount of CV emails that arrive every day. It’s astonishing – they’re all looking for someone in Europe, who can have any skills at any level as long as they have enough time, energy and devotion for the exciting new project their company is starting work on. They mention me by name, sometimes, but mostly it’s the same email – even the format doesn’t change. I’d love to think I was this in demand, but there are Hollywood actors who get fewer offers from the indie film industry. The key thing is research – I’ve almost missed some seriously important messages due to my over-zealous spam filter.
If you’re looking to fine-tune your filters, and you’re on Gmail or a similar client with filter capabilities, then you need to think carefully. If you’re job hunting as a hungry graduate but want to nix the time-wasting spam emails, be confident before you filter out anything with the word “CV” in it – you never know, you might just be throwing away your only chance at a job interview for the next seven months. I have a comprehensive and ridiculously complex list of “if this, then this” filters, and they’re doing a grand job of keeping most of the dodgy stuff away from my online letterbox.
A lot of emails nowadays are also coming from well-known companies. Blizzard (I own a frozen World of Warcraft account), PayPal, and so on – they’re all legit-looking, and appear to come from the right companies, but chances are, they aren’t. Why? Because if you registered and clicked on links in a validation email already, chances are you’re probably set up to have the any mail from the real company drop straight into your inbox, no spam-wall-of-death required. Do skim-read your spam, though, so you don’t miss any receipts, update emails or friend requests. Just don’t click on anything that you feel tempted to Google first.