5 common scams to look out for when job hunting

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Beware, job scams can have email addresses that are similar to the business they are imitating.
Beware, job scams can have email addresses that are similar to the business they are imitating.
Tommaso79/Getty Images

Online job searching is the way to go in the age of lockdown – all you need is a device with an internet connection.

There are also plenty of sites and search engines to help you find what you’re looking for. However, it’s important to proceed with caution.

Scammers thrive when others are struggling – and the desperate job situation has provided them with ample opportunities to take people for a ride.

They’re sharp and always on the lookout for new opportunities – just like a legitimate business – but they don’t follow the rules.

Read more | Need to find the perfect career? This is where you need to start

Here are five common scams to look out for when searching for a job:

You’re asked to provide confidential information

Many jobs do require your banking details, but only after you have been interviewed and a formal offer of employment has been made. Any listing that asks for this information earlier in the hiring process is potentially a scam.

You’re asked to travel to a location that’s not the company's office

If you’re told to come to an interview at a place that’s either a residential building or not that organisation’s office, it might be a scam. Most organisations are housed in commercial buildings either on their own or with other businesses.

Also look out for different job listings that have a similar address linked to them – these could be a front for human trafficking.

You’re asked to pay money

If a job listing requires you to pay money upfront, it is a scam. Never pay money as part of a job application or in order to have any background checks done on you.

You receive an email from a non-business address

So, you’ve applied for a position at Drum magazine, however you receive correspondence from a Gmail account. That is a scam – report it and move it to a spam folder immediately.

The job description is vague or unprofessional

Scammers try to make their emails sound believable by listing job requirements. Usually these are very vague so almost anyone can apply. Most legitimate job listings have more specific and detailed job descriptions and an extensive list of qualifications. A fake job listing also often has poor spelling and grammar or is inconsistent.

TIP: Look at the email address carefully, then copy and paste it into a search box or on Google. It should notify you if it’s been reported by others as spam or scam.


Read more | Lost your job? Here’s how to stay ready for that next employment opportunity

Put the ball in your court

Scammers may be clever, but you have knowledge at your fingertips and you can never do too much research. Check out the organisation or recruiter on well-known sites such as LinkedIn.

You can also copy and paste paragraphs from the email to Google, as scammers are prone to re-using parts of other people’s mails and just changing the company name. If you find an identical email posted online, then you know it’s a scam.

Trust your intuition. If your gut says it’s a scam, then do some more research on the company or individuals who are recruiting you. Ask questions and pay close attention to their answers.

Make sure you only use trustworthy job sites.

And finally, it may be a cliché but it’s still very relevant – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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