Don't be fooled by something that is too good to be true.
Searching for a new job or career is hard enough — and the last thing you need is to get duped by a job posting that looks amazing but is actually just a scam. It can take you from happy and optimistic to frustrated and dejected in no time.
The bad news? Job scams are out there. The good news? You can spot them before they get you, if you know what to look for. Here are 11 telltale signs that a job posting is actually a job scam:
1. You never applied
A recruiter calls you up and says that they found your resume online. “You're a perfect fit for this amazing position,” they say. While you may think how lucky you are, don't be fooled. While it can happen, it's a good bet that this is a scam. Hear them out, but then do your research.
Most open positions receive many applications, so it's rare for a recruiter to have to scour job sites looking for qualified candidates.
2. The pay is too good to be true
If you are hunting for a job, you probably have a good idea what the average salary is for your job and experience level. If you find a job posting that lists that position for two or three times the typical salary, be wary.
Even if a company wants to get the best of the best, it can probably do so by beating the competition's salary by a small margin. Paying double the going rate is bad business and not likely to happen. You've heard it before — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Your research comes up empty
Trust your research. If you see a listing but can't find a good website for the company, consider it a red flag. The same goes for a recruiter; if you talk to someone about a job that could be a great fit for you, but you can't find the recruiter on Linkedin or a company website consider it a warning sign.
4. Poorly written job post and correspondence
You've seen this before: You scan a job posting or receive an email, and the wording is just … off. It may be overly formal and awkward, or it could be full of grammar mistakes and punctuation errors.
Professional companies don't let this fly. A job posting should be easy to read and understand, and that doesn't mean that there can't be a typo or two. Think about it this way — if a job posting is unprofessional and awkward, what would it be like to work for that company?
5. Vague job description
The hours are good and the pay looks great, but what exactly would you be doing? Job descriptions shouldn't be hard to understand. If you can't figure out what you would be doing in a particular job based on the description, assume that you don't want to know. It's likely a scam.
6. Suspicious URL
While doing your due diligence, you check out the company website that was either listed with the job posting or given to you by the recruiter. First, check out that URL — is the company name spelled correctly?
Most companies want their website URL to be short and sweet because that helps Google identify their page easily, so a long and confusing URL may be a bad sign. You'll also want to check out the country code if there is one. If the URL is clearly from another country, weigh that against what you already know about the job posting.
7. The recruiter has a generic email
Whether your correspondence is with a recruiter from a recruiting agency or the HR person at the hiring company, you should expect that they'll have a company email address. If the recruiter is using a generic email service, like Gmail or Yahoo, they're either not legit or really unprofessional. In either case, you'll want to move on.
8. Asking for an interview via messaging service
With it being an increasingly digital world, remote interviews are more commonplace. However, there are still some basic guidelines that should be followed. Interviews are still typically held by phone or video conferencing software, like Skype or Zoom. Using a messaging or chat service is highly unprofessional and a good way for a scammer to hide his identity.
Simply put, no legitimate company is going to ask you to interview for a job by way of a messaging service.
9. You get an immediate job offer
If you apply for a job and are offered the position almost immediately, something fishy is going on. Even a great resume doesn't tell the entire story. Legitimate companies want to talk with you first to get to know your personality as well as your list of accomplishments.
10. You get asked for personal information
Timing is everything on this one. There is a point in the interview process where the employer may need to get some personal information, such as your social security number, to conduct a background check.
If an employer is asking you for your social security number, bank account information, or other personal information and you're still early in the interview process, it should trigger your scam alert senses. It should be clearly stated upfront why they need this information and if it makes you feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to move on.
11. You're asked to pay for something
You've been looking for a work-from-home position, and you finally found one that looks amazing. The only problem is that you're asked to pay some money at the start to help fund the equipment you'll need to get set up.
Don't fall for it — this is a simple grab-the-money-and-run scam. No reputable company should ask you to pay them to get equipment for your job. It's that simple.
Protect yourself by doing your research
The simplest way to help yourself stay clear of job scams is by doing your own research. If you see a job posting or receive a call that intrigues you, put it on pause for a day or two and hit the internet. Look for:
A professional company website
Professional profiles of any recruiters with whom you've spoken
Social media presence
Accreditation or rating with the Better Business Bureau
Company reputation reviews on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed
With a little research, you can not only find out if a company and a job are legit, but you can also see if the company is the right fit for you.
How to report a job scam
If you come across a job scam and you want to see justice, it's up to you to report it. There are several steps to reporting a job scam, but you can save a lot of people from getting ripped off. Here are the steps:
1. Report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
2. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
3. Report the company to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
4. Let the job site know about a fraudulent listing
Don't get discouraged. The vast majority of job postings you'll find are legit; just keep your eyes open, keep these tips in mind and trust your gut.
Not getting the response you want in your job search? Check to make sure your resume is up to par.