With layoffs on the rise, job scammers are keen on taking advantage of a crowded market. As a jobseeker, it is important to be aware of and avoid job scams. Learn how to protect yourself from scammers seeking money, personal information, or free labor.
Don’t let the job search become more overwhelming than it already might be. Use these tips to identify and avoid job scams to protect yourself during your search for a legitimate new role.1. Do your research to avoid job scams
Before applying for any job, research the company thoroughly. Check their website, social media presence, and online reviews to verify their legitimacy. Glassdoor is a popular resource for checking out company reviews and getting the inside scoop on employers. If the company has a poor online presence or lacks information about their products or services, consider it a red flag.2. Watch out for job postings with vague descriptions
Legitimate companies usually provide a detailed job description, including the required qualifications and responsibilities. If the job posting or ad doesn’t provide specific details about the job responsibilities, qualifications, or compensation, it might signal a job scam to avoid. Real postings should have clear and concise descriptions of what the job entails and the qualifications required.3. Be cautious of unsolicited job offers
If you receive a job offer without having applied for a job, chances are you are dealing with a scam. While recruiters may reach out to notify you about job opportunities, legit companies do not send out unsolicited job offers to random people. This is another point at which you should do some research. Look into the individual’s LinkedIn profile and be careful before clicking any links they share with you.4. Never pay for a job
If a job requires you to pay a fee for training, equipment, inventory, or any other reason, you have a scam on your hands. Employers should be paying you. Companies never require jobseekers to make upfront payments.
If a job offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of job offers that promise high pay for minimal work or require little to no experience.
Before accepting a job offer, verify it with the company directly. Scammers often use fake company names and email addresses to impersonate legitimate companies.7. Protect your personal information
Do not provide your personal information, such as your social security number or bank account information, until you have verified the legitimacy of the company and the job offer. Employers should only ask for this information after you’ve been hired.
A note on background checks
Typically, any part-time, full-time, or IC employee, regardless of department, seniority, or employment status, will complete a background check.
Expect to complete once an offer is in hand. More often than not, you’ll find a sentence in the offer letter stating, “Please understand that your offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check.”
Background checks usually cover these areas:
The timeframe of background checks may vary by company, with some looking for current data and others looking into the past 5+ years.
Sometimes companies will also run a credit check. This is for a few different reasons. According to NerdWallet, these checks are more likely if your role involves security clearance or access to confidential customer data, company information, or money. They don’t see your credit score, but a high-level version of your credit report. Basically, they’re looking for any signals of financial problems providing a vulnerability to fraud or theft.
If you’re unemployed and plan to file for unemployment insurance, be careful. Do not google “unemployment benefits” to apply. Many of the top search results are fake sites, encouraging you to register your claim while taking your personal information. Instead, get the correct agency’s URL from your former employer or verify them through your state government site.
Even after you’re registered, be careful when it comes to communication. Many scammers send texts suggesting there’s a problem with your benefits. They might say they need additional financial information to process your claim. Or that you’re owed additional money and they need to confirm information.
The majority of workforce agencies communicate with you by mail or a secure portal on the website. If you get a text that appears suspicious – do not click on any links or respond. Report it for phishing, block the number, and delete it.
One of the classic “tells” of a phishing email has always been misspellings or poor grammar. It’s safe to assume that with ChatGPT and other AI tools, scammers of all varieties will use them to their advantage. So, be extra vigilant.
This is also a good time to make sure you have your voicemail set up. It’s tempting to quickly answer calls when you’re job hunting, but let it go to voicemail if you don’t recognize the number.
First, job scammers often like to record you saying “yes” or other things they can manipulate later. Second, it’s often better to take a beat and return the legitimate calls when you have the time to focus on your response.9. Trust your instincts and inquire to avoid job scams
If something seems off or suspicious about a job offer or company, trust your gut and proceed with caution. Ask questions about the company, culture, role responsibilities, etc. to evaluate the opportunity.
While you should inquire about these aspects for any job (whether it’s a scam or not!), questions will help you weigh the legitimacy. Real employers and recruiters would be happy to share more about the company and verify its authenticity.
When it comes to tech roles, it is common for employers to request jobseekers complete technical assessments and challenges. If you are seeking a job in tech, keep in mind what’s reasonable when it comes to these tests. We asked Hired’s Senior Internal Recruiter, Jules Grondin, for her insights. Here’s what she had to say:
Every role is different but know what might be fair to expect from potential employers as a tech candidate.
At Hired, we partner with employers to offer jobseekers a few ways to showcase their technical skills.
The job search process can be daunting and even more so if you don’t avoid job scams. Such scams complicate the search and may take both a financial and emotional toll on unsuspecting jobseekers. Follow these tips to protect yourself, evaluate opportunities, and have a smooth job search!Want a stress-free job search? Use Hired to land your next role in tech or sales.
Revised 27 July 2023.
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