Scam Alert! How to Spot a Fake Job Offer

Jun 9, 2021

4 minutes

Searching for a job has become an easier task with the evolution of technology and the unlimited sources of information on the internet.It is therefore not a surprise that there is a growing number of malicious sites and individuals out to make some profit from unsuspecting users.

The current global pandemic has also greatly influenced the rise in job scam rates due to the growing rate of unemployment as companies struggle to keep things afloat. However, this realization shouldn’t discourage you from seeking out employment opportunities, instead, this is a wake-up call to be more vigilant and knowledgeable about identifying legitimate sources.

Here are some key warning signs you should look out for when job seeking:

1.They ask for payment:

Be careful of any company, recruiter or job offer that requires a form of payment from you. No legitimate job opportunity will require you to pay to work for the company. While you should budget any expenses related to your job search—like gas for travel or professional attire—you should never have to pay for an opportunity to interview or accept a job.

2. Communication appears unprofessional

Another big warning sign that a job may be illegitimate is unprofessional communication. For example, in a job offer email, look for inconsistencies in grammar, syntax and how the employer or recruiter communicates with you in writing. If it feels more than a little unprofessional, consider researching the position further and find out more about the company.

3. Unsolicited job offers

Receiving a job offer right away without having applied to an open position, spoken with a hiring manager or participated in an interview can be a huge red flag. An immediate offer to work for an organization combined with the fact that you didn’t contact the company first can mean the job opportunity isn’t as legitimate as it seems.

4.Job requirements and description are vague

Real job opportunities have quite specific job details and requirements. However, for illegitimate job offerings, you may notice that the details and requirements are vague. For instance, think twice when you come across a job description that anyone can qualify for. Legitimate job offers clearly outline job requirements and roles.

5. Requests confidential information before hiring

When a company hires new employees, it’s usually a requirement to fill out tax documents, submit bank information for direct deposit and other processes that require confidential and personal information. However, this only becomes necessary once you sign an employer’s offer and start your new job.

If a recruiter or employer asks for any personal information aside from your basic contact information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, take this as a sign to avoid this company in favour of a real job opportunity.

6. Exaggerated Salaries

Jobs that claim to be high paying for little work are, more often than not, too good to be true. These opportunities can include referrals, ‘get rich quick schemes’, work from home, or personal assistant posts. 

With all these pointers, it’s safe to say that we all have a pretty good scope of how scammers work. An overall solution is to do thorough research to ensure that the sender is legitimate if there’s any doubt, especially when they are asking for personal information. You can start by looking them up on LinkedIn, keeping in mind that someone could be impersonating a LinkedIn member as in this case. Nearly everyone recruiting these days has a substantial LinkedIn presence. Do they have a profile? If not, don’t respond. If so, do they show a professional photo and a professional-looking work history with at least 500 connections?

Go beyond just checking out their profile. If it’s a smaller organization, are they shown on the website? Try to message them on LinkedIn (the scammer who hacks into a LinkedIn account usually won’t field LinkedIn messages as it would tip off the real owner) and at their organizational email address. 

Lastly, beware of malicious email attachments and fake website URLs that may be phishing for your personal information. Call the company switchboard and confirm if the messages are legitimate. Make sure an offer came from an employee using the formal company email address. Ask for references from them before submitting any paperwork required post-acceptance. Tread carefully and happy hunting!

Watch this informative career clip on how to spot a scam by the University of Calgary career services.


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