A Word LinkedIn Job Posters Should Understand

by Cathy Miller on June 9, 2014

Now Hiring grunge blue stamp isolated on white backgroundJob posters look for the perfect fit.

The outcome for some is like the subpar results from a popular dating site.

Job posters receive their fair share of bad matches.

  • Applicants who are not qualified for the position
  • Others who cannot meet required duties and responsibilities

The connection is in the words. A well-crafted job posting helps find the ideal candidate.

As I focused on overused and abused business and blog post words the last few weeks, I noticed a common error in certain LinkedIn job postings.

Companies used one word in job descriptions when they meant something else.

What word?  Freelance.

Job Poster Problem

This site is dedicated to better business writing. I don’t normally get into the business side of freelancing.

However, when reviewing recent LinkedIn ads, I was surprised to see how frequently the word freelance (or freelancer) popped up.

Wow, were more companies using ads for freelancers? My experience has been companies on LinkedIn review business writer sites and profiles and contact freelancers directly. Then I read the ads.

Must work onsite

Writer will work out of our New York location

Writer must be available for all shifts

Those ads cross over into employee status. And that may not be what the job poster intended.

Job Poster Word Test

Business writer, Jennifer Mattern, shared a few blog posts about freelancer versus employee status. Her most recent post addresses copyright concerns.

One link in Jenn’s post I found particularly helpful was Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Employee?

For LinkedIn job posters, you may also find the link helpful when determining your business writing needs.

Check out the Common Law Rules for evaluating independent contractor (freelancer) versus employee. The rules have three categories.

Behavioral

This category is one companies often stumble on.

“Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?”

In the above examples, the LinkedIn ads appear to fail the behavioral test category for an independent contractor.

  • The job requires the worker to be onsite or at a specific location
  • The ad sets working hours (available for all shifts)

Freelancers (independent contractors) set their own work hours/location. Companies cross the line from independent contractor to employee when they start dictating where, how or when the person works.

Financial

Typically, the LinkedIn ads do not include the following information. However, if you are a job poster, consider the financial aspects of the open position.

“Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)”

Presumably, if a job is onsite, then the computer, supplies and other materials are furnished by the company. If that is true, the company fails the financial category for independent contractor (freelancer).

Type of Relationship

This last category is another consideration for job posters.

“Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?”

I bet the job posters do not intend to offer employee benefits for many of these jobs.

What’s the Big Deal?

In June 2013, the U.S. Treasury department issued a report on the misclassification of independent contractors.

There are benefits for a company working with an independent contractor versus an employee.

  1. Companies do not have to withhold income taxes
  2. Companies do not have to offer benefits

According to the report, the inaccurate classification as independent contractor means as high as $1.2 million in lost federal taxes each year. Approximately, $3,710 in employment tax for each misclassified worker.

You know that gets the attention of the IRS.

So, LinkedIn (and other) job posters, consider this word-defining post a Public Service Announcement.

At a minimum, understanding the context of freelance (or freelancer) can cut down on bad matches.

Understanding could also save your business a whole lot of IRS nightmares.

And with today’s technology, do you really need the person to work onsite?

Okay. That’s my freelancing bias shining through.

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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney and cannot provide legal or tax advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel or your tax professional. 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wayman June 9, 2014 at 7:06 am

Cathy, I hope lots and lots of employers read and understand this post of yours… thanks for writing it.
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Cathy Miller June 9, 2014 at 7:57 am

Thanks, Anne, ;-)
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Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA @ Cerebrations.biz June 9, 2014 at 7:42 am

It is more related to the degree of control that these companies feel they can exert. And, then leave their employees stranded to pick up the (tax) pieces they leave as detritus.
Unless and until we (as the potential suckers who agree to such mishandling) turn them in to the IRS, this practice will continue- and grow.
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Cathy Miller June 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

Call it my Pollyanna nature, Roy, but I believe more than a few simply do not understand the difference.

Thanks for sharing your point of view, Roy.
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John Soares June 9, 2014 at 8:09 am

I can testify that the IRS is definitely concerned about misclassification of workers as independent contractors. I was contacted by the agency in the mid-2000s about all the work I’d been doing for a textbook publisher. I had to answer several questions to determine whether or not I was actually an employee. However, the publisher had done everything correctly and I was in fact an independent contractor.
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Cathy Miller June 9, 2014 at 8:19 am

Thanks, John, for sharing a very real experience. I’m glad your client had all their ducks in a row. ;-)
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Helene Pulacu June 16, 2014 at 5:23 am

Ah! Unforgettable days of early 1990’s!

Greece, Southern Europe:
The government takes on employees under the guise of ‘contracting’ them as ‘freelancers’.

This arrangement is much cheaper, and they can’t later claim a permanent post in the public administration. The gvt, essentially, adopts measures already practiced in the free market (short-term contracts, apprenticeship, etc) in order to cut back costs and obligations (as in, to either hire or to redo relevant legislation and mess up with a proven voter-seducing method).

How does this relate to the current situation in the States? You tell me; I only know that Kathy’s post triggered a memory, that’s all.

Curious to know whether your IRS does something against this practice. I don’t like it either.

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Cathy Miller June 16, 2014 at 7:33 am

I’m not familiar with what you’re describing, Helene. Here in the U.S., the problem (from the IRS perspective) is companies calling a worker an independent contractor but then treating them as an employee without paying income taxes or offering the worker benefits.
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Paula Hendrickson June 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Seems my inclination not to pursue any “freelance” jobs that require working onsite was on target. Even if it was just because I didn’t want to leave home!
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Cathy Miller June 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Doubly blessed, Paula. ;-)
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