As if searching for a job wasn’t stressful enough already, we’ve heard stories recently of several job scams that are making the rounds. At best these scams are ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes that don’t ever pay off. At worst you could find yourself paying money for a job that doesn’t exist or even in some terrifying cases, being trafficked. It’s important, therefore, to know how to identify when a job offer isn’t real, so here are 7 ways to spot a job scam:
1. Research, Research, Research!
If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of a company or agency, look them up. Do they have a website? Is that website professional and a reflection of the company it’s claiming to be? Are there contact details? Not having these things can be a huge red flag. Also make sure that if they’re claiming to be from a corporation that you know exists, their email address reflects it. If the company has a website, they will usually have an email domain that ends in the same thing. Beware of companies that use email addresses like ‘[companyname]firstname.lastname@example.org’.
2. Ask about the company and job details
If you are dealing with a Recruitment Agent or Hiring Manager, ask about the details of the job. Some recruitment agencies will only disclose the name of the company at a certain stage of hiring based on confidentiality agreements with their clients. If, however, it gets to the stage where you are being offered a role and you still don’t know the name of the company, what the role fully entails, and haven’t had a proper interview, you probably shouldn’t pursue the offer.
3. Check scam lists and google the company name + scam
When there is a scam going around, you’re unlikely to be the only victim. If something seems off about the role or your interactions with the agent or company, do some research to see if it’s a known scam. If people have already been targeted there will likely be some information out there about it. And if you think you’re dealing with a scam, report it. Here are the contact details for the South African Fraud Hotline:
4. Don’t give them your money!
Any agency or company that asks you to pay a certain fee in order to secure a position or complete a criminal check (especially if you haven’t been for an interview or don’t know all the details of the role yet) should be a red flag. They are trying to take advantage of how much you need a job. If at any stage of the recruitment process you are asked to pay money, that should be a sign that this is not a legitimate position.
5. Check the references
Look up the company online to see if there are references. If there are no references, the references are overwhelmingly negative, or there are many positive references, but they all seem to be too similar to each other, that’s a sign that the company of agency isn’t what they are claiming to be. If you come away from looking up the company with a bad feeling, trust your gut.
6. ‘Get-Rich-Quick’ schemes rarely get you rich quickly
If an offer or opportunity seems too good to be true, it’s usually a sign that it is. Make sure that if an offer seems like a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM) you do your research on what the experience of those people who have signed up has been. Don’t just read the stories of those who are in them currently, make sure you read the stories of those who it didn’t work out for so that you get a full picture of what you could be getting yourself into.
7. Do extra research if you didn’t apply for the role
It’s possible you may have been head-hunted for a legitimate role. However, you should always make sure that you know enough about the agency or company approaching you. If they don’t have a professional presence online, you should be careful when proceeding with the process. If at any time something seems like a red flag, let the company or agency know you are not interested. Rather that than end up in a situation where they have too much personal information about you.
Keep in mind:
There are always agencies and companies out there who genuinely want to help you find the perfect role. However, there will also always be people trying to take advantage of these situations. Always do your research, trust your gut, and report anything that seems suspicious. The right job is out there, but don’t fall victim to scammers along the way.