January 2nd, 2018

How To Update Your Resume For Your Work At Home Job Hunt

How To Update Your Resume For Your Work At Home Job Hunt

Keeping your resume current is important, whether you’re job hunting or not. But when you want to find a new work at home job, you need to look carefully at your current resume to make sure that it presents you and your experience in the best possible light. These are some of the things you should do to update your resume for your work at home job hunt.

Check Your Contact Information

Having current and professional looking contact information is vital on your resume. You don’t need to include your street address, but you should have your name, phone number, email address, and possibly your website address or LinkedIn profile address on your resume.

Make sure your email address looks professional. The best option is to have your name with a Gmail email address or one associated with a domain you own. A student can get away with using an .edu address, but if you’re done with school it’s not ideal. Email addresses through AOL or Yahoo just look old. Using your name in your email address looks far more professional than using other words do.

Review Your Summary

Your summary gives a quick overview of your qualifications for the job. These are the points in your resume that will be the most important to a potential employer. This should go near the top of your resume.

If you still have an objective on your resume, delete it. Employers know what your objective is – it’s to get hired. You wouldn’t have sent in your resume otherwise.

Update Your Skills And Education

The skills and education you bring to a potential employer are also important. Keep these up to date. If at all possible, take the time to add to them whenever you can. There are plenty of courses at Udemy, community colleges,and so forth where you can build your skills in ways that will help your career.

Some educational choices will look better than others on a resume. When you sign up for a course, make sure that it will be a good addition to your resume.

Remove portions that are no longer relevant. There comes a time in your career when you don’t need to mention that yes, you have graduated from high school. Your college GPA eventually won’t matter either, as your experience will show whether or not you’re suited to the job.

Don’t mention skills that aren’t useful anymore. Employers won’t care how well you use some old software unless they specifically mention it in the job ad.

Update Your Work History

Even if you haven’t changed jobs since the last time you updated your resume, make sure to update your work history. Consider any new accomplishments you’ve made at work since the last update. What about promotions? Did you forget to add something to your work history that is relevant to your latest job hunt? Be specific. Include metrics whenever possible.

Bullet points are useful to make your accomplishments stand out from the general description of your job duties.

You may also need to trim down old employers who aren’t relevant anymore. That fast food job in high school isn’t relevant to your job hunt if you’ve had several other jobs since then, unless it has some specific relevance to what you’re looking for now. The same goes for that internship in college that has nothing to do with the kind of work you’re looking for now.

Review Your Terminology

Does the terminology you use in your resume show that you are current in your field?

If you use outdated terminology in your resume, it makes your skills look out of date. Make sure you haven’t let any old terminology stick around. If you have any doubt, do a little research and look it up.

In addition to professional terminology, look at the words you use to describe your accomplishments. Action verbs are vital to a great resume, if not overused. Consider this list of action verbs to improve yours.

You also need to consider keywords that are important to your industry. Most resume are scanned by applicant tracking software for relevant keywords before a human ever sees it. You want the software to see your resume as relevant to the job so that it gets to the human. Don’t forget the human even as you consider the software.

Update Your Formatting

Is your resume in a modern style? Resume formatting has changed quite a bit over the years.

Many resumes still have your name at the top, but your contact information, skills and education are in a narrow column off to one side. Done properly, this makes it easier for the employer to scan your resume for the information they want.

Use a professional font on your resume. Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and other professional looking Sans Serif fonts are a good choice. Don’t use an unusual font and please, please don’t use Comic Sans. That one is a bad idea for most purposes.

Aim for a one printed page resume, even though it may never be printed. There are times when going to a second page makes sense, but it’s not for everyone. Potential employers need to know enough about you to decide to contact you for an interview, and that’s it. Most times they’ll spend under 30 seconds on your resume. If you don’t get their attention that quickly, you won’t get called for an interview.

Make sure that your formatting is consistent throughout your resume. It looks sloppy if you have different fonts throughout your resume, use multiple date formats, or if you change bullet point styles.

Do NOT Include Excess Personal Information

There is no reason whatsoever to include excess personal information. This is a mistake I see parents who want to work at home make often when they contact me. They tell me nothing about their skills, but I hear all about how they have young children or an ailing parent they need to care for, and that’s why they want to work at home.

First of all, I’m not an employer. If you want work at home job hunting advice from me, I’ll give it, but your personal situation isn’t relevant. It’s even less relevant to potential employers. If you share too much personal information, they probably won’t want to hire you.

Employers do not care if you’re married, if you have kids, or what your hobbies are. If any of these limit your availability, bring up the hours you are available to work (but not why) in your interview. Employers want to hear about what you can do for them, not what you need them to do for you. Personal issues can be handled later. Keep them off your resume.

They also don’t need to see a photo of you. What you look like is not relevant to your resume.

Save Your Resume In The Right File Types

There are two important formats for saving your resume. The first is as a .doc or whatever word processor format you use. This one should be easy for you to edit later, and it’s possible that an employer will want that format for one reason or another. Give your new resume a new filename so that you can compare your old resume to your new if the need ever arises. Having multiple versions of your resume can help you other times that you need to update your resume.

The other is to save it as a PDF. This format ensures that you can easily send your resume to a potential employer and it will look the way you want it to look. There’s no worry about the formatting going wrong or someone accidentally changing your resume if you send it as a PDF. It also prints well, which may matter to some employers. Printed resumes aren’t all that popular anymore, but some people find paper easier to handle than staring at a screen all day.

Consider Making Multiple Resumes

Customizing your resume for each job you apply for is a good idea, but you can make the process faster by making multiple versions of your resume. This is especially important if you’re job hunting in multiple fields. Prepare a resume that is focused on each of those fields, and you won’t have to spend so much time customizing your resume as you find different job openings.

Review Your Social Media Presence

Many employers now search potential employees online and on social media websites to make sure they like what they see. I went into more detail on this subject in my article, Social Media Checklist For Job Hunters.

Update Your Resume On LinkedIn

Once you’ve finished updating your resume, make sure your LinkedIn resume is updated to match. Many employers check there, especially if you have included a link to it on your resume.

Sometimes a recruiter will find you on LinkedIn. Having someone contact you about a job you weren’t aware of is a good thing – just make certain that it’s legitimate first. Some work at home scams will claim to be from a legitimate company, but it’s just a person using that company’s name for their own purposes.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 1st, 2018

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

I get to start this year off with a lovely new scam email I received. It’s pretty simple. It says I have been made a moderator of a YouTube channel. On mine, the channel is called “Have Win Apple iPhone X Get It From: – (link)” – isn’t that a lovely name??? I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that it was a YouTube Moderator scam email.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

Yes, it really does seem that it comes from YouTube. These guys are starting a fake YouTube channel just so they can make people moderators of their channel and try to scam them.

The link in the channel name is the key to this scam. It shows up as a link in the email. When I checked things out in the Google Product Forums, some people had followed it and had even filled out the requested information. Don’t do that, folks. You should know better. Never share your information on sites you don’t trust.

There does not seem to be a way to keep people from making you a moderator on YouTube as of this writing. With this scam going around, I expect that Google/YouTube will be looking at things to find a way to control this scam.

One simple thing they could do is disallow domain names as usernames or in channel names. I don’t know that they would want to do that, however, as I’m sure many legitimate websites name their channels for their domain.

Better might be to say that you can only be made a moderator of a channel you already follow. This seems like a very simple thing to require to show that a potential moderator has already interacted with the channel in some way.

What To Do About The YouTube Moderator Scam Email

First of all, make sure you know the email is a legit one from YouTube before clicking any links in the email. I looked at this one very, very carefully before I reported it as spam and checked to see if the channel was still open so that I could report it. You don’t want to be tricked into logging in at a fake site. You also don’t want your name as moderator on a scam channel, even when it’s likely one of many, and utterly meaningless.

If you get this email, don’t overreact. I saw some people on the Google Product Forums who shut down their YouTube channels over this. I think that’s a huge overreaction. There is no indication that your channel has been compromised just because you got this email.

This scam email is really not a big deal. Hit the “report as spam” link in the email if you like, and go on with your life. YouTube wants to know about these channels quickly so that they can shut them down. They don’t like scams either. You can also go to the channel and flag it as spam if it hasn’t already been deactivated. The YouTube channel in mine had been shut down for violating the TOS. Surprise, surprise.

It amazes me that scams like this can work, but as I saw on the Google Product Forums, they apparently do, even on people who know enough to go to the product forums. Some ways that amazes me, but that’s just reality.

Be careful any time you get an email. Don’t trust it just because it comes from a trusted source. This one really did come through YouTube’s system because they found a way to get their fraudulent link in there. But it could just as easily been a phishing email from start to finish. Pay close attention to where a link really goes before you click one in an email… or anywhere.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 13th, 2017

Upgrade Your Skills To Improve Your Opportunities

Upgrade Your Skills To Improve Your Opportunities

When was the last time you took a class? Online, offline, an hour or many months, it doesn’t matter. I just want you to think about the last time you took a class, any class, to upgrade your skills and improve your opportunities.

For many people, it has been a while. For others, not long at all.

What I want you to think about now is how you benefited from that class. Did it help you in your professional life? Did it inspire you to try new things? Have you put what you learned into practice?

It’s often difficult to find the time to take a class, even a brief one. Most of us lead such busy lives that it’s hard to spare the time. I know I have that problem quite often.

Getting around the time issue is a matter of priorities. You have to give something else up for a time or reschedule things so that the class you want to take fits in. If you choose the right class, the time spent will be well worth it.

Self paced may sound like a good idea, but if you struggle with finding enough time for your classes, it may not be. Some people simply cannot cope with self paced classes – they let them slide too much. This is why many online courses are never completed by people who pay for them. I’m guilty of that one myself.

Can You Afford To Upgrade Your Skills?

Upgrading your skills usually takes money. It may not be easy to decide to spend that money, especially when things are tight. However, if you choose the right skill to improve, it will be money well spent.

Ideally, you want to improve a skill that will improve your income or your lifestyle. Nothing wrong with taking a class for your own personal pleasure, after all! My focus here will be on work at home and online business skills, but if you want to find a class that has to do with one of your hobbies, go for it and have fun! Downtime matters too.

Classes can cost anywhere from a few dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the kind of class you want to take. I have rather enjoyed some of the classes I’ve done through Udemy, even though I struggle with making time for them. They’re really affordable as a general rule, which I like.

Decide How You Want To Upgrade Your Skills

There are a lot of ways you can upgrade your skills. Online courses are very popular because they’re so flexible. In-person classes through local community colleges have the advantage of a set schedule, which can make it easier to finish the course.

If the class you want to take is self paced, set up a schedule you’re willing to commit to for yourself. It’s the best way to ensure that you actually go through with it. Pick an hour or two each day or week, and work on your class.

The more time you commit, the sooner you will finish your course. There’s no prize for finishing a course quickly – you want to learn your new skills thoroughly, and that can mean spending a lot of time on the parts that are more difficult for you.

I’m very fond of online courses. Community colleges and such can be great, but not all teachers will be up to date on things. You can find reviews on online courses and see how recently they’ve been updated to reflect changes in the industry. That can be a huge help.

You will also want to consider whether you prefer to learn through videos or text when you learn online. I’m not big on video, but many people adore it. I prefer text that I can go over at my own speed until I get it. Think about how you like to learn when considering a course.

You don’t have to spend money on improving your skills, of course. You can try figuring things out on your own. Trial and error doesn’t work for everything, but it can help with many things. The main disadvantage is the mistakes you will make along the way – you may lose out on income by doing it on your own. Learning from someone who has figured things out already should be faster.

Consider Upgrading These Skills

There are a lot of great skills you can upgrade that will improve your opportunities. Here are some suggestions to consider. It’s not a comprehensive list – if there’s something else you want to do, go for it. It’s all for you.

Work At Home Job Courses

These courses may help you to find more work at home jobs, whether as a freelancer or as a regular employee.

Medical Transcription Training through Career Step – I’ve recommended Career Step for years. They have a good program. You can read up on medical transcription as a career here and think about if it’s for you.

Medical Coding Training through Career Step – I’ve also heard that Career Step’s medical billing and coding course is good. I’ve written about medical coding as a career, and you may want to read it as you consider whether this is the right step for you.

Freelance Writing – Working as a freelance writer is a popular work at home job for very good reasons. It can be flexible, and if you know what you’re doing, the money can be pretty good. It can also be pretty awful if you don’t know how to value your work properly.

That’s where a course such as Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course can help. It will help you learn how to start your freelance writing business the right way and get clients.

Virtual Assistant – Freelance virtual assistants can also do very well. Virtual assistants can do a wide range of services for the companies they help, which gives you room to specialize. Gina Horkey also has a course for that, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. You could start helping clients with their social media, email marketing, customer service and more.

Online Business Courses

These courses are more about building your own business, although you could use them to improve your skills for a work at home job too.

I love the range of courses you can find on Udemy. You can find something good for just about any online skill you could use, as well as courses that are just for your personal benefit. It’s worth taking a good look around.

You could consider How to Start an Amazon FBA Store on a Tight Budget, for example. It can be tough to make a living selling physical products through Amazon, but it’s a great platform once you know what you’re doing.

There are also courses such as Etsy 101: Set Up a Shop and Promote It on Social Media for those who would rather make their own creations and sell them on Etsy.

For those who need to improve their social media marketing, there are all kinds of courses, from Social Media Marketing 2017 to courses specific to each platform you might use. If you just can’t quite get how to master a particular platform, you can get help there.

I could seek out good courses on Udemy all day and find plenty of great choices. It all depends on what you want to learn.

Commit To Using Your New Skills

Once you have a new skill, make sure you do everything in your power to use it. If it requires finding a new job, this may not be easy. If it’s something to help you improve your online business, on the other hand, you’d better get right on it.

Fit your new skill into your daily routine. If that means job hunting, work at it daily. If that means a change in how you handle your social media marketing, make that change right away.

You’ll never know what your new skill will do for you if you don’t use it. Learning something and not applying your knowledge means you wasted your time and your money. Do you have either to waste?

What Skills Do You Need To Upgrade?

Have you decided to upgrade your skills? What opportunities do you think this will open up for you? How will you fit the time it takes to learn something new into your current routine?

The best time to start improving your future is now. If you put it off, when will it happen? Whether you buy a new course, finish an old one or try to figure things out on your own, it’s time to get things moving.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 11th, 2017

10 Perks of Working at Home

Perks of working at home

Being home with your kids isn’t the only good thing about working at home. It’s certainly a benefit when you’re a parent… provided you can actually work with the kids around, which is not always easy or smart. But there are a lot of other perks of working at home that you may not have considered as much.

1. No Commute

Losing the drive to work is wonderful. There are some work at home jobs out there where you may have to drive to the office sometimes or to see a client, but for the most part, you don’t have to drive anywhere to get to work. Potentially, that’s a huge time savings.

You’ll also use less gas. This is a personal favorite, especially whenever gas prices start climbing. So long as you don’t take the excuses to drive all around town, working at home uses a lot less gas for most people… unless you have to meet with clients a lot away from your home.

2. More Time

Cutting that commute means you have more time. The average U.S. travel time to work is 24.5 minutes. I assume the drive home is similar. That’s close to an hour a day of driving. Working at home gives you that time back, to use as you wish.

For what depends on you. You might work more, or you might have more family time. Some use it to volunteer at their children’s schools or elsewhere. It could be more time for a hobby or to improve your skills by taking a class.

3. Your Day Can Be More Productive

Most people are more productive when they work at home, distractions or no. Meetings can be held with online tools such as Slack, which also makes it easy to share documents.

If you need to chat with a coworker about something, you can. The online tools for this have really improved in recent years. Companies that have a lot of remote employees are pretty good at handling communication between employees now, which is a huge boost for productivity.

4. Your Home Office, Your Style

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home. You can set up your home office to suit you. You want a standing desk, it’s up to you to make that happen. Office plants and other decor are up to you. Your home office can be a guest room, as mine is.

Odds are that you won’t want to spend a lot on your home office, at least not at first. But you will have the freedom to pick out the desk and chair that fit your needs and budget, and upgrade when the time comes.

Not everything will be up to you in some work at home jobs, of course. You can’t work at the coffee shop if you’re required to have a wired internet connection or a silent work area. You probably won’t even be able to work outside your regular workspace. But you will be able to set that space up to suit you, rather than by a set of corporate rules.

Some companies will give you a stipend to set up your home office. This may be mostly for the technology you need to do your job right – a good computer and monitor, for example. Some will provide enough that you can also get a good desk and chair. Others will expect you to provide your own equipment.

You have full control of the thermostat when you work at home. Get that programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat to make it easy to keep your home at the right temperature while you work. My husband’s biggest complaint about his job is that he is exactly under the blower at work. Even on the hottest days of the summer, he brings a jacket to work because it gets so cold at his desk. I don’t have to worry about that at home because I have full control over the temperature of the house.

You aren’t even restricted to working in your home office with many work at home jobs. If you want to head outside because it’s a beautiful day, you might just be able to do that. There are lots of places you can work at home if you aren’t required to have a quiet or wired setup.

Home Office

5. A More Flexible Work Day

Most work at home jobs give you more flexibility to get things done. That makes it easier to run quick errands or get the kids from school if you need to. That’s especially handy if one of the kids gets sick at school. With a regular outside the home job, you’d be done for the day. With a work at home job, you can get the kid and then decide if you can keep working.

Some require a schedule and strict adherence, but even then you can usually pick a schedule that suits you. If you work best in the early morning, you set up your schedule so that you start in the early morning. If you’re a night owl, many jobs will let you do much of your work then. So long as you can sign in for online meetings, you’re probably fine.

Better yet, you can have a lot more fun on your breaks during the workday. You don’t have to worry about disturbing your coworkers if you want to crank up the music during a break. You might embarrass any kids who are at home if you sing along, but you won’t bother your coworkers.

You’ll even have more time to work out if you want. You can get to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s relatively quiet, rather than fighting the crowds. Some people find that getting a workout in also helps them come up with ideas. Taking that break can greatly improve your productivity.

6. No Distracting Coworkers

You won’t have any coworkers stopping by your desk to chat when you work at home. You can set your status in your work chat group to “do not disturb” when you really need to focus. It’s much easier to control when you socialize with coworkers.

On the other hand, there are other distractions, just waiting for you to give in. And they’re always there. If you don’t learn how to ignore the television and the housework you may have difficulty being sufficiently productive at home.

You will need to teach friends and family that they aren’t allowed to distract you. A spouse or child swinging by your home office to chat can be even more disruptive than a coworker if they don’t take the hint to let you work.

Don’t even get me started on my cats. Given a chance, they’re wonderful distractions. But they also make me feel good, so I’m pretty sure that balances out.

7. No Sharing Germs With Coworkers – One Of The Best Perks Of Working At Home

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home during cold and flu season. I can almost guarantee that I’m not the one bringing the latest virus home. I might get sick due to my husband or kids bringing something home, but that’s it.

You can even decide to work when you’re only mildly ill without having to take your coworkers into consideration. It’s so nice when you can save your sick days for the days you really need them without feeling as though you’re spreading illness to your coworkers.

The ability to work at your own speed when you’re not feeling 100% well is a huge help. It’s easier to take an extra break in many remote jobs. If your schedule isn’t flexible you may still be stuck, but for many jobs, you can take it a little easy when you’re sick.

Just try not to think about how much worse that sick kid at home with you can be. They’re usually far worse than a contagious coworker. On the other hand, you’d have to deal with that sick kid even if you worked outside the home. You might even have to take a day off work to deal with them, while a work at home mom or dad might still be able to work.

8. Eating Healthy Is Easier

This one is all up to you, but it can be much easier to eat healthy when you work at home. There’s less excuse to grab lunch out, and what’s in the fridge is under your control.

One of the best ways to take advantage of this perk of working at home is to prepare things in advance. Don’t have a lot of chips, soda or candy in the house – it’s too easy to snack on them if they’re in the house. Instead, prepare healthier snacks for yourself. Chop up any vegetables you like for a super fast and easy snack. I’ve also developed a taste for frozen yogurt bark, which is very easy to make.

Have healthy lunch fixings available too. I pack up leftovers from dinner and put them in the fridge or freezer for easy lunches. They’re a good alternative to sandwiches. If you freeze them you don’t get so bored from always having leftovers from the night before as your lunch.

Keep a good supply of coffee around if that’s your habit so that you don’t get the urge to run out to a local coffee shop. Not only will that mess with your productivity, it adds up fast.

9. Wear What You Want

Many people love the ability to dress as they please when they work at home. It’s one of the most popular perks of working at home. Some prefer to dress just as they would if they were going to the office. They say it gets them into the right frame of mind to work. Others do just fine dressing casually or yes, working in their pajamas. You choose the clothing that makes being productive easier for you, rather than having to abide by the company dress code.

Of course, if you’re meeting someone face to face or by webcam, dress appropriately. What this means depends on your job, but rarely includes pajamas.

10. Environmentally Friendly.

Working at home can be very environmentally friendly. Sure, you’ll use more electricity around your house, but you also use less gas, which tilts the environmental considerations in your favor when you work at home.

Your home office can be as efficient as you care to make it. You can use LED lights. You can have plants in your office if you want. If you have space in your budget, you can even consider solar panels for your home.

Having people work at home also means companies can use smaller buildings. Odds are that you aren’t buying a bigger home just so that you can work from there. An employer, on the other hand, has to provide space to all employees who come to the office.

Some will debate the environmental impact of working at home – you still need all the equipment, and heating or cooling individual homes is less efficient than heating an office building. Overall, most say the environmental impact of working at home is less than that of commuting to an office.

Are There More Perks Of Working At Home?

What are your favorite perks of working at home? Have I missed anything great?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 4th, 2017

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I’m seeing the secret sister gift exchange all over Facebook right now. I have a few friends who are participating, and it just makes me wince. Simply put, the secret sister gift exchange is a pyramid scheme, and illegal.

A lot of people don’t understand that. $10 seems like such a small risk, and it is. But the odds of receiving the promised 6 or 36 gifts is poor, especially since it depends not only on how well you recruit people into it, but how well your recruits bring people into the deal as well.

How Is The Secret Sister Gift Exchange Supposed To Work?

The basic premise is so simple. You send your gift to the person whose name appears at the top of the list you receive. When you send the list to your recruits, you remove the person you sent a gift to, and put the second person’s name at the top. Your name becomes the second name on the list.

There is often a push to do this quickly, so that everyone gets their gifts. Your six people send to the top of the list, and their people, now totalling 36 people, send gifts to you. It sounds wonderful.

Legally, however, this falls under the same laws as chain letters and lotteries. It’s not something you want to mess with. Not many people will get in legal trouble for doing the secret sister gift exchange, but why try your luck? It’s a federal crime, according to the Post Office. It also may be a crime by the laws in your state.

Do The Math

If you do the math on the secret sister gift exchange, you can quickly see why it will quickly run out, even if everyone finds enough people and everyone sends their gifts. Both of those are pretty iffy themselves.

Six people each finding six people means they need 36 people. Those 36 people need a total of 216 people, who need 1296 people. Keep this going for five more levels, and you need 10,077,696 people. That’s a difficult number, but not completely impossible. Highly unlikely, of course.

It only takes 13 levels to get beyond the entire population of the planet. Even assuming some people participate more than once, it’s not going to happen.

This means it won’t take long at all for people to have trouble finding someone to send gifts. Many people who try to join in won’t get anything in return. Most will simply fail to get a full six people sending gifts, and their people in return will have trouble finding enough people.

You might get a few gifts, but usually that’s it. Between the number of people needed for everyone to get their gifts and the difficulty in recruiting people, it’s just not going to go that well.

There are also gift exchanges where the focus is on wine. It has the same problem as this one. Just don’t join in. The wine version also presents challenges in shipping it legally.

Talking Friends Out Of The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It can be hard to call this out as a scam. I’ve seen people call friends names for trying to explain why the secret sister gift exchange doesn’t work or is illegal.

I would imagine that most people have trouble admitting the problems with the gift exchange because they’re already invested in it. They’ve promised to send a gift to someone else, or have even sent it already.

It’s worth a try, even if the friend who posts the gift exchange won’t listen. Someone else might.

Be polite when you try to discourage friends from this. No one will respond well if they feel foolish. You should also remember that the people participating don’t mean to scam or cheat anyone. They’re trying to do something fun. No one in this means any harm by it.

That doesn’t change the legal issues. Or the fact that eventually there are people who won’t get anything in return.

Then there’s the risk in putting your personal information out there for random people. You may know all the people you recruit into the gift exchange, but it’s the people they recruit who will be sending you gifts, and they’ll get your name and address too. Are you comfortable with that?

Alternatives To The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It may be better to suggest setting up a basic secret Santa gift exchange, where everyone in a group draws a name and buys for one other person. No grand promises of dozens of gifts. Just a simple gift exchange among friends. It’s much simpler and legal when you avoid the chain letter aspects of the secret sister gift exchange. Best of all, you know that everyone gets a gift.

If you want something to feel good about, donate to a local cause. There are lots of wonderful causes out there, and even a $10 donation will be welcome. You won’t get a gift back, but you will have done something good.

As illegal actions go, this is a minor one, and I doubt many people ever get prosecuted for it. But why take the chance when a simpler gift exchange works just fine?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.