5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Job-Posting Scams
If you find yourself conducting a job search, chances are you’ll flock to sites like Craigslist, Indeed, and Monster to see what’s what.
If you’re the luckiest job seeker in the world, you’ll click on a few ads, and presto, all of a sudden you’re connected with the recruiter who works for the company you’ll ultimately wind up with. But assuming you’re not the luckiest job seeker in the world — by definition, there’s only one person who fits that description — your job search is more likely to be time-consuming, arduous, and, unfortunately, stressful.
If you’re not careful, it could also be disastrous.
An illustration: Craig is a 23-year-old college who graduated from college last year. He’s having an impossible time finding a “real job” and has been making ends meet balancing barista and busboy positions. Craig sends application after application to jobs he feels he’s qualified for, but he never hears back.
Finally, a recruiter tells him he’s the perfect candidate for a position. There’s one catch: Craig needs to fork over $300 dollars to buy himself some software he’s told he’ll need to access the company’s servers remotely.
Though reluctant at first, Craig finally decides to wire the money. A few days pass, and nothing’s come in the mail. He contacts the recruiter, but the email bounces back. He calls the number listed in the recruiter’s signature, and it’s disconnected.
Craig’s out of $300. He’s furious. And even worse, he’s back to square one in his job search.
Telltale Signs of a Scam
Though Craig’s imaginary, this example illustrates the plight that many actual folks encounter. While you can never be completely certain about anyone’s true intentions other than your own, you can educate yourself to reduce the likelihood you’ll wind up embroiled in a similar scam. Here’s how:
#1. Make sure a recruiter has a legit email address
If a recruiter contacts you with a Yahoo, Hotmail, or even Gmail account, stop to think whether that makes any sense. Legit businesses usually have their own domains. It may not be worth pursuing a job opportunity when you’re communicating with someone who’s using what could be a throwaway email account (and identity).
#2. Research the company thoroughly
These days, it’s virtually impossible for businesses to thrive without a digital presence. Sure, there are always exceptions, like the delicious neighborhood deli that’s been there since who-knows-when. But if you’re looking for the typical white-collar job, chances are the companies you’ll want to work for will at least have websites or social media accounts. And journalists might have even written about them a time or two before. So prior to even applying for any position, spend a few minutes searching for any information you can find about your prospective employer. It shouldn’t take too long to figure out whether it’s a legit company. You can also use sites like Glassdoor to see whether other employees have chimed in on what it’s like to work there.
#3. Don’t ever part with your money
People work to make money — not to spend it (unless they’re entrepreneurs or small business owners). So if a recruiter tells you that you’re an amazing candidate but can only advance to the next round if you submit a payment of any kind, send that message to your trash bin immediately. It’s not even worth dignifying with a response. It’s bad enough to waste your time during a job search. But wasting your money is tremendously worse.
#4. Be wary of jobs you didn’t apply to
If your resume is posted on multiple jobs sites, it’s true that recruiters will be able to find your contact information and shoot you an email if they’re interested in your skill set. But remember, today’s job market is ultracompetitive. As such, most employers don’t have a shortage of candidates knocking down their doors. If a recruiter from a company you’ve never heard of contacts you out of the blue, be sure to ask that individual where they found your email address. If that answer checks out, ask as many questions about the position as possible.
#5. Be reasonable about your own skills
You know what your skills and talents are. If you apply for a position that’s probably above your pay grade and are greeted with insane enthusiasm, think twice about whether that kind of response makes any sense. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim high: great candidates can certainly land excellent jobs — even if it’s a huge step up for them. But you’re not Elon Musk (unless you are, in which case, hello Elon, thanks for reading!), so don’t expect your application to elicit a response you’d suspect he’d get.
Even the shrewdest job seekers may wind up entangled in scams of sorts. So do your due diligence. At the end of the day, you just need to remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.