When you’re hunting for a job, you always have to be on the lookout for scammers–people who prey on desperate job seekers by pretending to offer legitimate job opportunities only as a ruse to get their personal information (or their money). This is especially true during times when jobs are scarce. But now, with a job market that is especially hot, a different type of scam is on the rise–namely, scammers posing as recruiters.
In one recent example, a human resources firm in Portland, OR called Mineral detected a group of scammers posing as recruiters for their company by setting up fake profiles on LinkedIn and connecting with actual employees of the firm to make them look legitimate. Thankfully, the scammers didn’t get any money out of it, but it wasn’t until a corporate VP for Mineral noticed a LinkedIn profile for a graphic designer she didn’t hire that the scam was detected and thwarted.
How Do Recruiter Scams Work?
Scammers are always looking for new angles, so scam recruiters can sometimes be difficult to tell apart from the real ones. But generally speaking, here’s how a recruiter scam works:
- A scammer reaches out to you, claiming either to be a third-party recruiter or a recruiter for a company, and says they are looking for someone with your skill set to fill one or more positions.
- The scammer typically sets up a fake online profile so when you look them up, they appear legitimate.
- At some point in the dialogue, the scammer will create a pretense to ask you either for personal information, an advance payment, or both.
- The scammer disappears, leaving you with no job offer–and possibly poorer, if you gave them money.
Tips for Detecting and Avoiding Recruitment Scams
So, if a scam recruiter reaches out to you with an offer, how can you tell if the offer is legit? Here are a few practical tips to avoid getting scammed:
- Check the recruitment link, if you’re given one. If you’re emailed with an offer to apply for a position, the link typically takes you to the company website or an applicant tracking site (ATS) like Taleo or Jobvite to fill out the application. Look at the URL (the website address). If it’s a legitimate company taking you to the applicant tracking site, the company name will usually appear somewhere in the URL (e.g., “companyname.jobvite.com”). If the URL looks suspicious or doesn’t look like a legitimate company name, it probably isn’t.
- Look for grammar errors. In the world of a global Internet, many scammers don’t speak English as their first language. If there are spelling and grammatical errors in their email, it’s a red flag.
- Reach out to the hiring firm or the hiring company directly. If you’re unsure whether a recruiter is on the level, find a phone number for the company they tell you they represent, call them, and ask whether that person is a recruiter for them. If they don’t recognize the name, it’s probably fake.
- NEVER give a recruiter money or personal information. A true recruiter will never ask you for an application fee, nor will they ask you for your driver’s license number, Social Security Number or other personally identifying info. You should NEVER have to pay the recruiter (the hiring company does that), and as for your SSN, you only give that to the employer if you get hired.
It may feel good to get a call or email from a recruiter because it makes you feel like your skills are in demand. And don’t get me wrong–there are lots of legitimate recruiters out there, especially in this job market. Just keep your eyes open, ask questions, and watch for the warning signs. As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
As always, I’m available if you want help positioning yourself to land the job you want. Just click here to access my calendar and set up a free 30-minute consultation.