If job searching wasn’t nerve-wracking enough for you, job scams add a scary layer to the process. So many job search and career advancement activities are now conducted online — from researching companies to expanding your professional network on LinkedIn to finding open positions — and scammers are taking full advantage.
Finding a job can be a daunting task in itself, and now people face the added pressure of trying to avoid job scams while searching for the real thing. Thankfully, there are some fairly easy ways to stay safe and avoid job scams. Here are five tips.
1. Pay attention to red-flag behaviors.
Job scammers do several things that real companies almost never do:
- Contact you through LinkedIn or your personal email to offer you a job you never applied for.
- Conduct job interviews through instant messenger programs like Yahoo! Messenger.
- Offer you the job quickly after a very brief interview.
- Ask you to make a decision on-the-spot to get you to act before you have time to think it through.
- Ask you for money–usually for something like training materials or to start your direct deposit account.
2. Do your own screening to steer clear of scams.
Did you know the most well-known job boards don’t pre-screen job listings before putting them out there for job seekers to find? Don’t assume that just because a job is listed on a popular site, it can’t be a scam. Instead, do your own research: check out the company to get a sense of their reputation online. Do a search for the company’s name and keywords like “scam” and “rip off” to see if other job seekers have posted warnings about the job or business. And give yourself some additional help by using job search websites that pre-screen listings.
3. Be prepared to spot the most common job search scams.
While new scams are always being created, the most common job scam jobs include: data entry, stuffing envelopes, rebate or forms processing, wire transfers or money movement, shipping management, craft assembly and pyramid sales schemes. Another telling sigh: if a job listing uses excessive capitalization and punctuation, offers few details about the job or asks you for personal information such as banking and social security numbers, walk away. These “opportunities” are packaged to appeal to harried job seekers — few hours, good pay, easy work and you can start immediately! But if it sounds too good to be true, it most definitely is.
4. Don’t let a big name company fool you.
Let’s say you find a job being offered by G.E., Google, or another big brand. How do you know the company listed is really offering the job? Scammers are now using well-known company names to fool job seekers into applying for scam jobs. When you find job listings on outside sites, take a few extra minutes to visit the company’s main career website and check their own listings to see if the job is actually being offered by that company. If the job isn’t listed on the company’s website, you may have found a scam.
5. Do trust your instincts.
Scammers prey on the vulnerability that most people feel when trying to find employment. Don’t let your excitement at the possibility of employment override a healthy sense of skepticism.
Conducting a job search is exhilarating, exhausting, stressful, and full of emotions that make it easy for scammers to take advantage of hopeful job seekers who let their guard down. Trust your instincts, remember the most common red-flags, and always do your own research before applying to jobs, and you’ll be a successful, scam-free job seeker.
I’m delighted to introduce this monthly feature from FlexJobs. They provide cutting-edge information and resources for those interested in flexible work, and I’m thrilled to be able to share expertise from their team via Keppie Careers.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing and flexible schedules. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.
photo by rvw