The phrase "New year, New you" is a common sentiment at the start of any new year. For some that might include looking for a new job. Most people start out their job search online and with the prominence of remote work there are more listings than ever. A position might seem like the perfect job for you, but before you start filling out any online applications or taking an interview - make sure the job you're applying for isn't a scam. These scams can not only waste your time, they can put your own personal and financial information at risk.
While it's not always easy to spot a job or hiring scam, there are some things you can be aware of to make it easier for you to find valid job offers.
- Check for typos or mistakes in grammar or phrasing. With the increased availabilty of AI this might become more difficult, but it should be the first thing you can check with little effort. Make sure information matches in all areas of the ad. If they list an address at the top and tell you to mail in your application to a different address, be aware this could be a potential scam.
- Be cautious of job offers that seem too good to be true. If a job offer promises high pay or requires no experience, it may be a scam. Always research the job that is being offered. Look at comparable positions at other companies to determine if the pay offered is in the correct range for the job. Scammers will place something that is difficult to pass up in hopes that you'll reach out to them and do the first part of their job for them.
- Research the company and the person hiring. Look up the company's website and social media accounts and search online for reviews or news articles about them. If you can't find any information about the company or the person hiring, be wary. You should always feel comfortable contacting the company directly to verify if the position is still open. At that time you can also validate additional details about the offered job. When you reach out directly, ensure you are going directly to the company website or calling them through their business number. Don't click links in emails or text messages or return calls to any personal phone numbers.
- Don't pay for anything. Reputable companies won't ask for application fees or start-up costs in order to gain employment with them. Anything that is required for your position should be provided by your potential employer. If after you are hired you are asked to purchase items for your own use, verify that it is required and ask if there is a procedure for making work related purchases and how you will be reimbursed.
- Don't give out personal information. While some job applications ask for a Social Security number, show caution if they request financial information or anything else that you might deem too personal. Only after a job has been acquired would any employer have a need for banking information and the only instance that should be asked for is to initiate direct deposit for your paycheck.
- Be wary of unsolicited job offers. If you haven't applied for a job and someone contacts you offering you a position, be cautious. Job and hiring scams can also be put in front of you unsolicited through email, social media, or ads on websites. Before you click on any links, stop and instead find the company's direct website.
- Use trusted job search websites. Many job scams are advertised on illegitimate job search websites or through spam emails. Use trusted websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed to search for jobs. In the time of remote work there are additional places you can look for employment such as Otta and Zip Recruiter. Another helpful tip is if you like a certain product or have a company you'd like to work for visit their website directly and you might find something you fit into there.
- Don't download files that are requested of you during an interview process. There are very few exceptions to this, but in most cases your future employer should be able to provide you with any information needed about the position without asking you to download a file.
- Be cautious of phrasing that includes "guaranteed", "waiting for you", or "previously unlisted/undisclosed" postions.
By following these tips, you can protect yourself against job hiring scams and increase your chances of finding a legitimate job opportunity. If you do come across a potential hiring scam, or are a victim of one, you can file a complaint with the FTC, contact the IL State Attorney General and also the Consumer Protection Agency.