Could that job you’re applying for be a scam?


Job-hunting is never fun for anyone – particularly in our country where unemployment rates are so high amongst the youth of South Africa.

With a driving need to get work almost immediately after they complete their courses it’s not hard to see how young graduates are prime targets for scammers. You’re particularly vulnerable when you have student loans to start paying off with the extra caveat that many jobs aren’t always entry level positions and require at least three years worth of experience.

READ MORE: 5 struggles every graduate searching for a job can relate to

And this is exactly the kind of thing that scammers are banking on - that students and graduates will apply for jobs without taking potential risks into consideration.

According to an article featured on IOL, common scams often involve the request for money.

The feature goes on to share the experiences of three Stellenbosch-based women who were scammed out of hundreds after a job description for positions as warders with the Department of Correctional Services was advertised on Facebook.

When they tried to get hold of the person who'd posted it, they discovered that there was no one with that name working at the department.

While this instance may have happened a while back, job scams appear to be more rife than ever.

Any company that asks for any sort of fee in order for you to even be considered an applicant is most likely taking you for a ride.

Cases in point:

- IOL reported this month that a military scam recently left people from provinces outside of the Western Cape stranded after a they were promised a job that would pay up to R45 000 if they paid a joining fee of R150 to R2000. Needless to say their experience has been harrowing to say the least.

- In another instance and according to TimesLive, a cop and examiner were recently arrested for reportedly conning young adults out of more than R230 000. The apparent elaborate scam supposedly saw 23 students exploited following a setup that featured fake certificates and “fees” that were required.

READ MORE: How to not lose your mind while job hunting

Since money scams are so prevalent, we did a little investigating and spoke to Elizabeth Mamacos, Head of Content and Careers24 to tell us a little more about other common types of job cons to look out for:

She says that the most common types include the following: 

  • the scammer requesting payment from the applicant in return for job application assistance, training or paperwork required.
  • the work from home scam which also often involves an asking fee.

Eizabeth warns that job applicants should never have to pay any fee before or after being employed. And look out for the following:

1. Are they a valid company?

Reputable companies that are offering positions are candid about their contact details. Check if they’ve got a website with contact numbers that check out. Do they have active social media pages? What e-mail address are they using?

How they make contact with you is just as important, so if they’re sending an e-mail from a hotmail account you should definitely think twice before responding since most business have an e-mail address that includes the name of their company. 

Elizabeth adds if it's an e-mail address that can't be found with a Google search, then you should be aware that this could be a scam.

Also, additional questions to ask yourself is whether or not they have an established business based somewhere – ask for an address if you don’t see it listed and make sure you check it out before you even think of going for an interview. 

READ MORE: This is what retrenchment feels like in your 20s

2.  Are they asking you for some kind of monetary deposit?

Run away immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect and do not even phone to enquire further.

Any company that asks for any sort of fee in order for you to even be considered an applicant is most likely taking you for a ride. The idea behind looking for a job is to make money, not to give money away in order to get the job.  

Many jobseekers still don’t have access to online or educational resources and people keen on making a buck out of them seem to be only too aware of this.

If they want you to fill out some kind of application where you’re required to provide your details before you’re even interviewed? Avoid like the plague. The only kinds of detail that they should have of you is your CV – and that’s it.

WATCH: How to identify job scams

3.  Is the job advert riddled with spelling errors and grammar mistakes?

This one’s a definite red flag. Any company worth their value will not only post an error-free ad, but they’ll go through a proof-reading process, followed by approval before even posting the details for the job application.

One mistake could be forgiven. A paragraph filled with mistakes most people wouldn’t make? That’s a sure sign that something's amiss.

READ MORE: How to bounce back after repeated job application rejections

4. Is very little or no experience required?

Remember that one of the biggest hallmarks of a scam is when something sounds too good to be true.

Elizabeth adds that

  • scammers promise applicants that by using their services they will save themselves time, money and trouble, and be assured of a job at the end of the process.
  • they will also often encourage applicants to fax their personal details which include their ID and a photo along with an application which they should submit to a provided number as opposed to just attending an interview

While companies do advertise for entry level positions, many require you to at least be knowledgeable about the field you’ve studied in.

People offering positions for high pay and no experience? Be super careful with this one. The reasons so many scams work is that they’re packaged in way that’s designed to draw you in.

And remember if you’ve conducted an interview with this set of specifications and are being offered a job on the spot, with no thoughts to discussing job contracts, there’s a good chance that the job is probably fake.

READ MORE: Have to do a panel interview? Here’s what you need to know

5. How clear is the job description?

So as a quick test I ran through a few sites with job offers that are available and the one thing I’ve noticed is that most companies who are reputable are pretty clear about what they’re looking for.

Not only that, but they often include a list of what to expect in terms of duties.

Some offers on Bizcommunity even are upfront about the salary they offer and include links and contact details to their site for you to check.

For example an ad for a Graphic designer asked for experience in web and graphic design, a solid portfolio of work (usually a good sign that there’s a process based on merit since the company needs to know what you can do) and a host of other work skills that are required.

They listed a salary and stated that it’s open for negotiation based on skills and experience and provided details of the education levels required for the position. 

A job that excludes a full list of duties required and isn’t upfront about details pertaining to their company is a sure sign something is off.

Companies aren’t in the habit of wasting their own time by being vague since the aim is to streamline the process in the fastest but still most efficient and thorough way – so purposely leaving out details would not be in their best interest.

READ MORE: These 5 millennials tried ‘funemployment’ - this is what they learned

Have you ever been scammed? Share your story with us.

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