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Eagerly awaiting IN MY SITES: Campground Mystery #4? It won’t be long now! Meanwhile, the first three books in my Campground Mystery series, A ‘CLASS A’ STASH, THE PROPANE GAME and DYING TO WORK CAMP are available in softcover, hardcover and PDF format. And don’t forget my book A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road is available in softcover from Amazon.com!

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The third book in my Campground Mystery series, DYING TO WORK CAMP, is now available online! The first two books in the series, A ‘CLASS A’ STASH and THE PROPANE GAME are also available in softcover, hardcover and PDF format. And don’t forget my book A THOUSAND WORDS: Photos from life on-the-road is now available in softcover from Amazon.com!

You see a work-camp job ad that sounds too good to be true… you apply. A week or so later you get a phone call or email from that employer… and you find out what was too good to be true indeed was. In fact, they seem to have forgotten what their ad stated. Or, they apologize for their ad being wrong in the first place. Okay, it happens… but several times over a few weeks?

I have been chatting with other work-campers having the same increase in “bait and switch” offers this season.  Most of the jobs have either had a cut in weekly work hours (that minimize pay) or have increased the number of work hours needed to keep your camp site (and reduces the hours of pay received for hours worked over minimum site hours – if applicable). And a few have actually cut their seasonally help date from May to June and November to Labor Day weekend. This is definitely an inconvenience for those who gave notice to their current employer, only to find out they had nowhere to go for a month (or more) between jobs.

Unfortunately, the work-camp world is not getting any better. More folks are joining the ranks of work-camping only to discover jobs are not paying what they promised. And those who had previously only worked-for-site or volunteer opportunities have found their outside income stretched in these economic conditions and in need of some sort of stipend or wages to supplement the increase in food and fuel costs.

When applying for jobs or responding to employers it is necessary to double-check everything! Don’t assume you get a free site. Some employers are now charging site and/or electricity. Their park may offer WiFi or Cable TV, but don’t assume it is free for work-campers. Many still charge a monthly or weekly fee for these services.

Create a worksheet of questions to ask potential employers. See Know Before You Go for ideas on what you should ask and verify.

It is absolute vital you get a contract, signed by both parties stating the start/end dates, compensation (wages, site, cable…),  job/duties and anything else pertinent to the position. This not only protects the work-camper, but also the employer.  It gives them assurance that you will be there throughout the season or determined period.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little smarter in your search and you’ll find the right job situation for you.

If you place an online ad for a work-camp position, you are bound to get responses; however, not all will be as you desire! Be cautious when responding to replies from public and private websites. If you don’t use common sense, you may find yourself wasting time and losing your personal information.

With the state of the economy, more and more employment opportunity sites are popping up -especially websites which cater to work-at-home, travelling sales or work-camp opportunities. Remember, placing an ad at a free (and visible to the public) website is going to attract spam, scams and those who are trying to get more information from you.

I shouldn’t have to mention this, but I will. Just this morning I saw an ad that posted too much information. I mean, literally TMI! Do not write your ad like an autobiography. This ad posted the couple’s complete birthdays, pet names, several cell phone numbers and other information that is probably used for their passwords or security information.

Keep your ads simple like: Couple seeking FHU and wages for weekly work hours. Previous campground experience in computers, snack bar and housekeeping areas. Great references. Non-smokers. One pet. Email us at: dadada@ fakeemailaddydotcom

That is adequate information for any genuine employer to take notice of you. They don’t need to know that your pet Fluffy loves cookies, what brand of RV you have or the fact you make your own clothes. Additional information (about your skills and needs) should be for follow-up emails and phone calls.

Typical spam and scam emails might contain subject lines like “workers wanted”, “job opportunity” or “employment offer”. And when you open the emails you will find the job is a hotel in the UK, a foreign textile mill ‘check casher’ or someone wanting you to help them claim money from a sweepstakes.

Others may appear legitimate work, yet are too vague to be sure. Such as the “Where are you now?” or “Can you deliver this for me?” emails. These emails generally want all your information without providing any to you. Those you should just delete! If you’ve followed some of the articles I’ve written for a few travel websites, you’ll know that delivering items for anyone is not advisable. Leave that to the professionals.

Private employment opportunity websites – which either charge a fee for posting an ad or require some sort of subscription service – can be just as bad for scams and solicitations. You will be surprised to find emails asking you to sell products (ie. Direct TV, Avon, Christmas candy) and you may even find yourself solicited to buy a campground or a timeshare unit.

I have one email that even stated, “You should give it up and buy my campground and run it the way you want it.” He found my information from a private site that I pay nearly $50 a year for and only paid employers who subscribe can view the information!

If you are planning to post your personal information at a private site, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just because the site is private, do not reveal all your personal information. Why? If you walk into Walmart and fill out a job application you know Who, Where and What-for you are applying. If Walmart calls your references, you know it’s for the position you applied for.

But if you post your personal information online, anyone can call up your references. It may be for a job you wouldn’t even want to consider! By posting all your personal information, you lose control of it.

You might think this is a time-saver – having employers you don’t know have your information. It may be, but it also alienates your references. Imagine your references getting calls and emails on a regular basis for jobs you aren’t even interested in or from employers who don’t even follow-up and contact you about the position. It does happen!

I know several people who have had this happen. And one lost a “dream job” because of it. The reference told the employer she thought the couple had accepted another job because of another call she received. The dream job employer emailed the couple a few days later saying she hired someone else, since she found out they were unavailable. They weren’t. By posting their information, another employer (who never contacted them) actually lost them the job they wanted.

When responding to replies from your private ad, keep in mind that if the job appears too good to be true, it most likely is! Make sure to ask questions in the follow-up email or phone call.

If you receive an email that states, “I need a work-camper. Send me your information and references,” do some research on the company.  This type of email tells you absolutely nothing. Quite frankly, it may be a legitimate job offer / employer, but how do you know?

If the email appears to be from a company website, check out the website. An example of finding the site would be looking at the email address. For example if it was jonnydoe@ areallygoodcampgrounddotcom – then look up the website listed after the “@” symbol. This way you can gather some information about it. If the email address is generic (Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo) then it could be from anyone.

If you choose to reply to a vague email, do not give them any personal information. After all, you could be sending it to anyone in the world. If I feel it is a legitimate employer, I liked to send out what I call a “reverse inquiry”.

It may read something like: Dear Sir or Madam; Thank you for contacting me regarding your work-camp opportunity. I am interested in knowing more about the position before I formally apply. If qualified, I would be happy to submit my resume, references and photo to be considered for the position. I look forward to hearing back from you regarding your job position.

If it is a genuine employer, they will be happy to tell you more about the position. If they aren’t – you’ll never hear back from them. I did have one actually email a note back stating they understood but would “really like” to view my information before telling me about the job, company and even where it was located. All I knew was that “Joe” would “really like” my information. Well, he didn’t get it. I’m not into secret jobs from secret companies at secret locations. 😉

If you do begin an email correspondence with a potential employer you should save all the emails. An initial email may state full hook-ups included, but when you speak on the phone he may say you have to pay for electricity or that your site will be “discounted”. If the employer contacts you regarding your ad, all you have to go on is what they told you in emails, unless they had a written contract or agreement to send you. If that is the case, make sure it includes arrival/departure dates, hours, wages/salary, position(s) with duties and any other perks included (FHU, seasonal bonus, laundry allowance, free Cable TV). And it should be signed (with copies) by both parties – not just you.

If you follow common sense when responding to your ad replies from public and private websites, you can save yourself valuable time and prevent your personal information from being misused.

With the economy the way it is, many folks are looking for jobs or ways to make additional income to make ends meet.

Recently the spotlight has been aimed at workamping. Even CNN ran a piece on workamping jobs ( Lots of Jobs for Workampers ).  Online searches for jobs and information on the RV lifestyle have increased. Many people are looking for options for working and living without a towering mortgage payment and other associated-bills.

Unfortunately, this has provided scammers more innocent folks to target. For those who use free work camp posting sites, they find themselves open to false “job opportunity” emails and phone calls. So how do you know what is legit and what isn’t?

If you have received an offer in your spam folder chances are that’s exactly where it belongs. Yet sometimes workamp employers do send out multiple emails and this could be sorted into your spam folder. So you’ll want to check to see what the email address is. Legitimate employers usually have an email address that makes sense (not some jumbled numbers and letters) and have their name or business name associated with the email. The email should provide (at the very minimum) basic information about the position(s). If you receive a phone call, the employer should identify themselves and provide you information on the position.

Genuine employers should not ask you for any personal information other than a standard resume and references. Do not give out your social security number, bank information or anything else. And do not even send your resume or personal information to employers who do not give you some information first. Anyone can send you an email stating “I have a job offer, send me your resume and personal information”. If they haven’t explained enough about the position and you feel uncomfortable, tell them you need more information about the position before you “formally apply”. A real employer will understand this and respect it.

And remember – no good job offer will ask you to pay money or put down some sort of deposit for the position. Now, there is one campground in Arizona that wants workampers to put down a $500 deposit so they don’t leave prior to their contracted end-date. This is absolutely ridiculous. If you are working a trade-for-site position you are already working weekly work hours for your site (week-by-week). They have no right to charge you $500 if you leave earlier. They are taking money from you from hours you already worked and were “owed” anyway. Yet some people have ended up putting the money on their credit card thinking this is how you get a workamp job. It’s not and you shouldn’t have to pay to work. If this employer has a problem keeping people, then that is a reflection on management and/or work conditions.

Some employers may ask for a deposit on equipment (such as radios or cell phones) used during the contract period. If this is the case, make sure you have something in writing to show what you were given and the condition it was in when given to you. Keep a copy of the check or deposit receipt to show the money to be returned to you when you return the equipment. Also make sure you get something in writing to show it was returned. If possible, take a photo of the equipment after it was received and right before it was return. Make sure your deposit (if taken) is returned promptly.

If you are looking for a workamp position without the hassle of scams, I recommend subscribing to the Workamper News and upgrading to “Workamper Plus”. This way only legitimate employers will have access to your information and if you have any serious problems with any advertised or subscribing employers, you can contact the Workamper News with your concerns. They also have a great forums and a community area to stay in touch with other workampers.

Another thing I would like to mention is upcoming changes to KOA’s (Kampgrounds of America) Workamper Program. As of April 30, 2009, to be a part of this program, you must pay an annual fee of $35. With this you can post your resume on their website and search for jobs at KOA campgrounds. Before this was absolutely free. Being a “member” of their new KOA Workamper Membership (as it is now called) includes a 10% discount at all KOAs. This is something you can get with the standard KOA card (only $24 annually) and if you work with KOA you are given travel vouchers between KOA jobs. So having to pay to receive a discount (which you shouldn’t need anyway!) and to apply for a position with them is rather ridiculous. Having participated in this program before, I have found that many KOAs do not update their job listings or respond to applicants. Save yourself the $35 fee and just subscribe to Workamper News. Many KOAs advertise through Workamper News anyway!

If you are searching for a work camp job, be wary of scams. Do your homework! Don’t send out personal information and never pay for a job. And if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

RELATED ARTICLES:

Workamping: Working in a RV

Workamping Pros and Cons

Is Workamping for You?

Know Before You Go

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