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Safe Job Searching


Enda Goodwin
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Senior Operative

Senior Operative

  • [1] JUNIOR ENLISTED

Job Searches and Scams

Searching for a new job can be as stressful as it is exciting. Sifting through career sites and fielding emails are a necessary part of the process, and as phishing becomes more widespread and sophisticated, even the savviest among us can fall victim to scams.

Unfortunately, many scammers prey on job seekers. What may look like a legitimate email or job post from a trusted person or well-known organization could be a scheme to obtain personal information, bank account and credit card numbers, or steal your identity.

Protect Yourself

Now more than ever, navigating an online job search requires awareness and extreme vigilance. To keep from falling into a phishing trap, consider these warning signs and tips for dealing with them:

  • Vague, unsolicited emails riddled with typos
    They’ve supposedly seen your resume online and send you a sloppy email explaining that you’re the perfect (nondescript) candidate for the (nondescript) job. Ignore it.
  • Emails that aren’t from a company domain
    Pay close attention to the sender’s email. Is there an auto-signature and contact information? Anyone from a legitimate organization would not send a business email from a Gmail account. Do not reply.
  • Suspicious-looking links
    Hover over the URL. Check the spelling and see where it’s pointing. Do a separate search on some of the key words. If something looks off, don’t click it.
  • Messages from a source you don’t know or trust
    If an email or text comes from someone you don’t know or trust, don’t click the link or download the attachment.
  • Messages from someone you do know that seem “off”
    Don’t take chances. Instead of hitting reply, contact the sender directly through a separate email.
  • Social media invitations from individuals or groups you don’t recognize
    Unsolicited invitations on social media are common, especially on sites like LinkedIn. Check out profiles, descriptions, and anyone you might have in common before accepting any invitations.
  • Companies with no online presence
    Do your research. Can you find any information about the company online? If not, walk away.
  • Requests for personal and confidential information
    Financial information, account numbers, and social security numbers should never be solicited or shared.
  • Requests for money
    Steer clear of any request for money in exchange for job listings, access to a recruiter, or opportunities that require payment for training, supplies, or other upfront costs.
  • Interviews over IM
    While legitimate companies may initially reach out via messages on social media or IM, they will eventually progress to telephone conversations, video chats, or face-to-face interviews. If conversations progress to interviews without ever moving out of general messaging apps, move on.
  • Promises of great pay and limited hours
    Who wouldn’t love to work from home for half the time and double the money? If an offer of employment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t Dismiss the Interview Scam

While many phishing incidents happen online, some include live conversations with fake employers, actual job offers, and tricking candidates into filling out bogus onboarding documents.

If you’ve reached the interview process, it’s not the time to let down your guard. Whether via phone, video, or face-to-face, continue to be cautious and keep all of the above in mind. Also, is the job title and description clear? What, exactly, will your role be day to day? Is the employer upfront about salary and time commitments required? If it’s a work-from-home opportunity, is there a physical office or headquarters? Ask questions and seek specific answers.

Be Proactive

To limit your vulnerability during your job search, consider these precautions:

  • Check the settings on your social media sites and remove personal information like your birthday, address, or phone number from public view.
  • Set up a separate email account used solely for job hunting. This will allow you to assess all job-related messages without the clutter from your personal email account.

International Job Searches

When searching for employment abroad, the same rules apply. Don’t give out your social security number, don’t send money, and ask questions. If anything, the process for obtaining a job internationally will be lengthy, so be especially wary if there’s an offer of quick employment.

Use Good Judgement

When looking for a job, emotions are heightened and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment—especially when the promise of employment is only a click away. There are great jobs to be had, and being aware of fraudulent tactics and approaching potential opportunities with caution is the best way to make sure you land the perfect role.

If You Suspect a Scam

What should you do if you’ve been scammed or even suspect a scam? Take action. To file a formal claim, contact:

Stay Informed

The best defense against being taken by a scam is to stay informed. For more information about the practice of phishing and job-search scams, check out these links:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-avoid-linkedin-scams-2062693

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-job-scam-warning-signs-2062181

https://www.job-hunt.org/onlinejobsearchguide/job-search-scams.shtml

https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/12261-bbb-tip-employment-scams

https://www.csoonline.com/article/2117843/what-is-phishing-how-this-cyber-attack-works-and-how-to-prevent-it.html

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