Fake Job Posts: Avoid These Time Wasters

By Flannery Amdahl, revised by Don Goldstein

Fake Job Posts

Photo by Nick Loggie on Unsplash

There are plenty of good job opportunities to be found through job search engines, including sites like Monster.com and Idealist.org. (Our office maintains an extensive database of job search resources for finding job openings both within and outside academia.) Unfortunately, job seekers do need to keep their guard up when looking online for jobs. Fake or fraudulent job posts are impossible to avoid, and they’re sometimes subtle enough to fool even the typically savvy applicant.

Protect Yourself

Scam jobs can come at you from many different directions, including email. Protect yourself by keeping the following in mind:

  1. Don’t ever give money to a recruiter or a supposed employer.
  2. Don’t make any check deposits to your account from a supposed employer. Don’t be fooled by a promise of receiving a large cash award for the use of your bank account.
  3. Don’t give out your personal details, including your social security number or your bank account number for direct deposit, until you are 100% sure this is a legitimate employer.
  4. Many of the recent scams are “Work at Home” schemes promising large amounts of money for small amounts of work. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
  5. If you have doubts about a job posting, check the company website to make sure the job is posted there and apply through the company website.
  6. If you have any doubts, please make an appointment with one of our career advisers.

Some fake posts, for example, advertise legitimate-sounding positions that, in reality, the employer has no intention of filling in the immediate future—if ever.  At the very least, applicants end up wasting valuable time tailoring their cover letters and resumes to apply for a positions that doesn’t exist. Here are some things to watch out for:

Spotting Fake Job Posts

Fake posts written by H.R. staff or recruiting agencies

Why would a recruiter post an ad for a job that they have no intention of filling anytime soon? Recruiter.com, a site aimed at recruiters themselves, offers some insight. In one scenario, a company might be considering creating a new position sometime in the future, and hiring managers want to gauge interest and get a sense of the talent pool out there. In other cases, a human resources department has either pre-purchased a certain number of listings from a search engine service or has has extra money left over in its recruiting budget.

Headhunters or recruiting firms sometimes stockpile resumes for future use and eventually contact applicants when a position opens. At the same time, applicants should keep in mind that they might unwittingly disqualify themselves from later being hired directly by any company that has an ongoing contract with that recruiting agency.

The fewer details included in a post, the more likely it’s a fake. “Be as specific as you can when searching for a job—if possible, list both a specific job title and location,” advises Alyson Doyle at the Balance Careers. Also look for specific requirements and qualifications and/or the contact information for a hiring manager (rather than an HR department or a recruiting agency), Phil Rosenberg at ReCareered recommends. And keep in mind that generic ads appearing week after week are unlikely to be real.

Data-mining scams

Other fake job posts encourage you to provide “employers” with personal data (your name, email address, phone number, home address, education, and more) that they can then sell to anyone.

Another way scammers collect your email address and personal information: you reply to an offer that seems too good to be true only to be informed that you need to register through an additional website service (one that promises even more job listings) before your application can be processed. If you do so, you’ll likely end up with nothing but an email inbox filled with spam.

Before sending a resume or providing personal information, always check the potential employer’s website. The USC Career Center recommends doing the following:

  • Look for an index on the website, and beware of any site devoted solely to the position you’ve seen advertised. Scammers sometimes create a basic website that can seem legitimate at first glance.
  • Validate the position you’ve seen advertised by checking to see if it matches open positions listed on the company’s website.
  • Verify the contact information listed in the job post.

Also be very careful about sharing any sort of personal information like your social security number. It’s best to complete these job applications in-person and at a company’s office.

Avoiding Job Scams

The next blog entry addresses even sleazier fake job scams—and how to avoid them.