Avoiding Scams in Your Job Search

Interactive Marketing Coordinator, Carnegie Communications

Jun   2012



Here’s a true story from a friend (though the name has been changed for privacy’s sake). Jessica was searching for a job on the Internet when she stumbled upon a job opportunity that sounded amazing. The company was currently hiring in the city where she wanted to live and it was offering great pay for an entry-level position, so Jessica applied. Then, she found another similar job and applied to that one as well. Soon after, Jessica received an e-mail from both separate companies asking her to come in for interviews at the end of the week. She accepted, planned the drive, and scoped out a hotel.

Hours before leaving, Jessica was using Google to find out some more information on the companies to have some talking points for the interviews, and she didn’t like what she was seeing: the organizations looked fake! Upon further investigation, Jessica found out that neither of them were what they claimed to be. The realization was quite a letdown, but this type of thing isn’t uncommon. Here’s how to avoid a similar situation:

Sound too good to be true? It probably is

I’m not saying that your first job can’t be amazing, because it can and should be! However, if the job posting says that you’ll make $200,000 a year and only have to work twice a week, I’d be a bit hesitant. Know what to expect in job postings and be wary if it all sounds too good.

Use the Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau provides reviews on various companies. You can read up on the companies to which you are applying, read complaints, and find if they are BBB accredited. Keep in mind that sometimes good companies are not BBB accredited. It’s not a requirement for all respectable businesses to be BBB accredited, so don’t use that as your only requirement as to whether or not the company is reputable.

Search, search, search

Use Google to do some research on the company. Here are some positive and negative things to look out for:

Good signs:

  • There’s an adequate website with a detailed “about” section, employee biographies, history, mission, and clientele (if applicable)
  • Media coverage of the company or relevant press releases
  • People have posted good reviews

Bad signs:

  • Information on the company is vague or nonexistent
  • The word “scam” is coming up often
  • An amateur website, a flashy website, or no website at all

Know other warning signs

What else should you watch out for? For one thing, you should never have to pay for a job. They are hiring and paying you, and there is no reason you should have to fork over money. Also, don’t let your excitement blind you. It’s easy to get caught up, but be choosy; don’t apply anywhere and everywhere. Lastly, realize that these scam companies can show up on any job sites, even those you normally trust.

My overall advice for the job search is to do your company research before applying to any position. It takes some time, but it’s worth the effort!

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About Kristen Fackler

Kristen Fackler

Kristen is a May 2011 graduate of Elon University, with a bachelor of science in English and Spanish. While at Elon, Kristen had the opportunity to complete a lot of writing and editing, two areas she has always been passionate about. At the Writing Center, she worked as a consultant with peers and community members to improve their writing skills. She also worked as an editor of Visions, an environmental magazine published by Elon faculty and students. While in college, Kristen was able to spend a semester in Seville, Spain. During the time she was there, Kristen was able to keep a blog in Spanish. She also was published in más+menos* magazine, a bilingual magazine completed by students and faculty members of CIEE Study Center. Kristen has also written for Examiner and is currently writing for Suite101. She enjoys writing as much as possible.

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