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Job Scams. How to avoid them

JOB SCAMS! How to avoid becoming a victim.

Unfortunately we live in a country that is plagued by exceptionally high levels of unemployment. Although you might think that this is bad enough there are many dishonest individuals who have seen this as an opportunity to scam desperate job seekers. I can imagine how easy it must be to fall into one of these job scams, especially when you are desperate for a job, any job. Desperation clouds our judgement and allows us to make decisions and take actions that we would normally not. My hope is that by highlighting some of these job scams and giving you an idea of what to look out for you might recognize a scam before it is to late.

Lets first discuss some of the common job scams that are going around and then we will discuss what to look out for and how to recognize them.

Common Job Scams.

1) Pay for items or training material scam.

This is one of the most common scams that I have seen taking place in recent months. What happens is applicants are promised free training for a position, however first they need to purchase the training material for the training course. A variation of this scam also involves applicants being told they need to purchase certain equipment which is necessary for the position.

2) Jobs overseas scams.

This is another big one at the moment, especially on social media sites such as Facebook. I have seen quite a few popping up on a Facebook Group that I created for hospitality professionals to find and advertise positions called Hospitality Connect. These scams are also going to ask you for a payment for some service upfront. However it can be much more serious then just scamming you out of a few Thousand Rand, there have been cases of individuals being used as drug mules unknowingly when travelling to these countries for the interview, and even cases of people being abducted. These scams can literally turn into life or death situations! My advice is that if you are interested in working overseas rather make contact with a reputable recruitment agency in that country and request assistance.

3) Registration scam.

In this scam you are told that your application is successful and you will be starting work on a specific date. However you need to register with the company first, and obviously this involves paying a fee. A variation of this is a recruitment agency that will charge you a fee to “prepare your CV.” No reputable recruitment company is going to charge you for their service, their fees are paid by the company with the job vacancy. Please note that this is separate from a professional CV writing service which some agencies might offer, check out this link if you are interested in having your CV professionally prepared. However if they insist you MUST make use of their CV writing service it is a scam.

4) Fake application job scam.

As we move forward into a digital world it is peoples information that is becoming valuable, and we need to protect our information from those that want to gather it and sell it. In the fake job scam applicants are directed to a form that asks for all of their personal information, most of which will have no relevance to the position being applied for. After completing this form your information is collected and sold to the highest bidder.

Any company that would like to collect your information should have a privacy policy in place which tells you what they intend to do with your information. For example I have a link to my companies privacy policy at the bottom of the form I ask candidates to complete. If you are suspicious about a company, rather read though the privacy policy or ask the company to provide it for you if you can’t find it.

5) The fax application scam.

This is a simple yet quite cleaver scam, I personally have never come across it but I have read about it taking place in South Africa quite a few times. Basically a “company” advertises a position and candidates are asked to fax through their CV’s to apply. Only a fax number is provided in the job advert. After you send your CV through the fax charges are billed to your phone account at ridiculously high rates.

So those are the most common scams taking place at the moment, they seem obvious when you read them here but they are catching people like you and me every single day. And it is all because of that desperation factor.

Points to look out for when thinking about applying for a job.

1) The email address is @gmail.

This is the first and most tell-tale sign of a scam. If you are asked to respond to an @gmail email address please be extremely cautious. Remember that it is so easy for anyone to just create a gmail account, in fact you could create a new one everyday if you needed to. This point is especially valid if the position being advertised is for a large company. For example, just the other day I saw a position being advertised at Pick n Pay but they were asking applicants to send their CV’s to picknpayjobs@gmail.com, lets be honest here, you cant really believe that Pick n Pay is using Gmail now. I would also say any overseas positions that require you to apply to a Gmail account are fishy, actually any overseas position that is not being advertised by a recruiter is fishy, full stop!

2) You are asked to make a payment.

If the company asks you to pay for registration, training, equipment or for the interview please be very cautious. I cant imagine why a company would ask me to make a payment to work for them. In my mind if a company wants me to work for them it is because they have seen my potential to help the company make a profit through the work that I will do for them. Why would they charge me if I am going to be bringing money into the company anyway. This also applies to a recruitment company, you do not need to pay a recruitment agency for CV preparation or registration.

3) You are asked to give bank details and personal information upfront.

If you are asked to fill out forms asking you for large amounts of personal information and / or banking details think twice. You should only be required to give your banking details to the company after you have actually begun working for them. If you are asked to fill out any forms requesting personal information first verify the companies credibility and check their privacy policy.

4) You are offered to position without an interview or the interview is conducted over a messaging platform such as Whatsapp.

Of course it is a wonderful feeling to be told “congratulations you have got the job,” especially if you have been job hunting for quite some time. Try to be realistic though, why would a company hire you without even conducting an interview? Or why would they just conduct their interview over a Whatsapp chat? Of course there is no reason the company can not use Skype or even Whatsapp video chat, and at the bare minimum a company may conduct a telephonic interview however this is usually just a preliminary interview to short-list candidates.

5) You are asked to travel to any location other then the company.

Please be safe, there is no job that is worth becoming a victim of some of the vicious crimes committed by scammers and criminals out there. Do not meet interviewers at their homes or at any location other then the companies physical address. If you re concerned that the address supplied is not valid rather pop it into google and see what comes up or go onto google maps street view and have a look at the building. Perhaps the company is a small home based business. Rather suggest to the interviewer that you meet at a nearby coffee shop for the interview. Any company worth working for they will be accommodating, if not don’t risk it.

6) The advert for the position is poorly written.

Job scams are often not very well written. I understand that we are not all English professors, and obviously it is acceptable for the writer of the advert to make a few errors. However if the ad does not entirely make sense in certain areas or especially if it looks like the ad was just run through google translator be cautious.

7) The advert states no experience required.

This is a perfect example of a phrase that is designed to prey on the desperation of job seekers who have been struggling to find a position for quite some time or those that are short on experience. Generally speaking most employers are going to ask for some experience, and if they are not looking for an experienced candidate they certainly will not advertise this fact. Often these fake job posts will have the following wording in them, “No experience needed, full training provided.” Don’t waste your time, you are going to be asked to pay for your training material, this is almost guaranteed.

If you enjoyed this please also check out article on 8 warning signs of a Job Scam. I really hope that this has opened your eyes a little and even if I just help one person out there avoid a job scam I will be happy. If you know about any other job scams taking place out there at the moment or you have been a victim of one of these scams please tell me about it in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and as always GOOD LUCK with the job search.

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