How To Spot A Scam Job Post

Guest contribution from Melissa Martini

When I was applying for jobs out of college, I stumbled upon a job selling yogurt. I applied because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career, and the position sounded easy enough. I can do this, I thought, and I was excited when I was contacted for an interview with the company. It all sounded great – flexible schedule, opportunities for growth, decent pay.

And then came the red flag. My interview was in-person at a Whole Foods. I gave them the benefit of the doubt – maybe the yogurt would be sold at Whole Foods, so they wanted to show me around the setup. Regardless, I wasn’t sure what was happening so I asked my dad to go to the interview with me. I’m glad I did. 

No one approached us. I didn’t know who to speak to. Eventually, we asked a Whole Foods employee. They had no idea what we were talking about – there was no yogurt company hosting interviews there, and I am pretty sure if I hadn’t walked into that store with my father, my day would have gone quite differently.

Encountering A Scam Job Post Isn’t Uncommon

The red flags are everywhere and being tech savvy won’t save you. While older folks who aren’t so savvy seem to be the ones falling for robo calls, being scammed while trying to find a job can happen to any of us. Plus, scammers are taking advantage of desperate times and so many people wanting to work from home.

The FBI has even made a statement warning individuals about being scammed during your job search: “Cyber criminals now pose as legitimate employers by spoofing company websites and posting fake job openings on popular online job boards. They conduct false interviews with unsuspecting applicant victims, then request PII and/or money from these individuals” (x). 

$59 million dollars from people who don’t have jobs. Who want something better. That’s fucked up. 

How Do You Spot a Scam Job Post? 

So, how can you spot a scam job post? Here’s what I’d look for if I could do it all over again. 

  • How do their messages look? Scammers tend to copy and paste the same messages from multiple accounts, or have their messages automatically produced by AI. They also tend to have spelling and grammar mistakes. 

  • Is their email address fishy? Make sure their name is spelled the same in their email address, LinkedIn profile, and email signature. 

  • Is it too good to be true? Google the company. Sadly, sometimes if it seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re getting offered $7,000 to write an article, red flags should go off in your mind. Even if you’re offered a check, many people have reported that “they’ve received checks that look like real cashier’s checks. They’re instructed to deposit the check, keep some of the money for themselves, and send the rest of the money to someone else via Western Union or Money Gram. Then, a few days or weeks later, they get a call from the bank saying the check is fake” (x).

  • Has the hiring manager requested any personal information right off the bat? Scammers tend to progress you through the process quite quickly before asking for personal information, which can range from your birthday to your social security number.

Scam job posts and interviews aren’t uncommon. Since the yogurt situation, I’ve been approached by countless fake companies and hiring managers. Knowing just how dangerous it is to apply to jobs makes the entire job search process that much scarier – not only is your career on the line, your life, identity, money, and more is on the line, too. When you open up the internet to apply for a job, who knows what you’ll be met with. 

Treat an email from a recruiter just like any other potential scam – with caution. Check the details and ask questions.

Job Search Advice

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