Beware of the Job Scams and 5 tips on how to avoid it
Let it be said I am job hunting and this is my perspective and experience. I have been job hunting for about 4–5 months now. There have been a few hits and a lot of misses. If you read my 1st article “How does it feel to lose a job you thought you wanted?” you would know that it’s been a tough couple of months. I have the qualifications but the hard part as we all have figured out is getting someone to call you back for an interview.
So, the other day I was not feeling that great and after applying to a few jobs I checked my phone to see that I had received a text from what looked like a recruiter wanting to do an initial 1st interview. I jumped on it and advised I was interested and gave them my available times. They replied back and said the initial interview is done via an application and chat. One of the apps they use is “Skype.” After sending them my skype information they advised someone would reach out to me about an interview. Someone did reach out and they advised they were available that day and would like to conduct the chat interview. This was different but I told myself, it’s the new age and technology is the new way of things. It did raise a red flag but they explained it was to save time and I advised I would be available in an hour. At this point, I have been through a few interviews and I know there are multiple tiers to getting a job and the initial interview is just the first step. It was a tech company so I figured maybe they use chat as their initial interview to vet out candidates.
As the “chat” interview progressed it seemed more legitimate and the questions that were asked were normal initial interview questions so the warning alarms that had gone off earlier were starting to fade away. The company was one I was a customer of, so I had consumer knowledge and it was exciting answering questions and feeling like I was acing the interview. I was sure I would make it to round two with the hiring manager which would probably be a video interview. That is what I kept telling myself for the 20–25 minute chat interview. The questions that were asked were not too personal and not a lot of personal details were asked except my first and last name and if I preferred direct deposit. It was not information that could be used to steal anything so I was under the assumption it was a legitimate interview. She advised me that she was impressed with my answers and that she would pass it along to the higher ups to see if they wanted to continue with me. I said “sounds great” and to “please let me know.” But then, “Ding Ding Ding Ding” she said “we hire pretty quickly and you should hear back in about 30–60 minutes if we are going to be hiring you.” That was the second red flag and the alarms now started to get louder again. I thought what is going on, they have barely told me about the role, I have no idea what the requirements are, what the company needs from me, no drug or background screening was mentioned and on top of that no one once mentioned that they were from human resources or any benefits and even the minimum requirements in regards to an education or level of skill I need i.e. excel, languages, written skills etc.
Like I said I have been job hunting and I know the rounds a bit so I know what to look out for. These people mentioned a few key words and then mentioned the money and thought that would be enough to trick you into believing that you are being hired by a legitimate company. Not to mention everything was done via text and skype chat. Not one email was sent. That was the third red flag and at this point, I was 99.99% sure I was being scammed but I played along because it was 7pm and I wanted to do some research. So, I asked what are the next steps? They advised me to log onto skype in the morning at 8am and they will give me the next steps in training. Casually I asked “will they advise me of the paperwork needed, drug/background screening?” To which they said that information will be provided tomorrow.
That night I went to work on the internet searching for these “scams” and to see if it had happened to other people. There was a lot of warning about “Job Scams” but no specifics. In the morning I sent them a message at 8am saying “I am a bit concerned and I did a bit of research and wanted HR’s contact information to go over the job details and would I be getting a job offer letter?” To which the reply was “I will get that for you!” and as expected hours later I still had not received anything. Strangely I received a similar text as yesterday advising me that another tech company was interested in me and wanted to set up an interview. Same words in the text except the name of the company was different. I googled the company and called their customer service and got a hold of someone. I advised them I don’t remember applying for a job with them but I was curious how their hiring process worked and if they texted their applicants. Not to my surprise, they mentioned that all communication for the hiring process is done via email and that they are aware that their company is being used in ‘Job Scams’ and have already started an investigation and the authorities are involved. I thanked her for her time and then I sent a text back to the scammers advising that I am aware this is a scam and the company and the proper authorities have been notified. As you can imagine no one has contacted me and I have blocked the user on Skype so they cannot communicate with me anymore.
This was actually alarming for me. I consider myself a well educated, smart individual who can spot a scam or a trick a mile away but these people were good. They know the right buttons to hit and in my excitement of being interviewed by a company that is well known and one I would love to work for I did look over a few red flags when initially I should have questioned it and made sure my questions were answered instead of letting it go so I don’t cause any ripples in my chances of being hired. I can’t imagine how many people might have fallen for this. Eventually, they would have asked me for information such as: direct deposit, social security card and driver’s license for their paperwork and just like that they would have had everything they needed to steal my identity and ruin my life. Things that would take years of work on my end to fix and most likely ruin my credit and my chances to own a house, car, pretty much everything I have worked my entire life to gain.
So, how can you avoid a situation like this. Here are 5 tips on what to look out for:
- Did you even apply for the Job? If the answer to this is no it’s most likely a scam. There are other ways to get a job. Recruiters will reach out to you via other portals like LinkedIn or if you have uploaded your resume on a site like Indeed and opened it for recruiters then that might be a possibility but like I said it will be more of a professional contact. Also, they will have you apply to the job so you are in their system. At the end of the day you do have to apply to the company in some way. They will give you all the details of the job, the requirements, they will want to touch base and have a conversation before even setting up an interview and it will not be a quick call and “You are hired.” Hiring process takes time and there are multiple factors so if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is not real.
- The salary or the money seems to be more than you imagined what it would be for the role. They were not to forthcoming about the role or the position but they did mention the money multiple times when I was contacted. This is to “hook” you and have you keep biting so you can know what you will be losing if you started questioning the process. Money is a big motivation in our lives and when we see the dollar signs we are willing to overlook the other red flags so please do your research and if the amount they are willing to pay is too much then you should tread carefully. You can go online and see what the average salary range is for the position and see if it matches. If they have not even told you what the position is but have offered the pay information then that is a red flag.
- The lack of details. That was one of the main things I kept coming back to. Why were they not providing me with the details of the position. What is the position? What qualifications do I need? Is my educational and work experience enough? Any company that has a job opening will have a job posting for the role that is easily searchable. You can google the position and the name of the company and bam it should pop up. If the recruiter is being vague and will not answer your question or does not send you a link to the posting then that should raise alarms. It should not be a secret. That was a BIG red flag for me. I have experience in HR and I have been involved in the hiring process and the fact that they just called it “management” position was questionable. What division, what role, what department, who will I be working under? Those are all questions that any recruiter would have answers to. So, please if you feel like you might have walked into a scam start asking questions.
- Being hired after one chat/call/interview. Truthfully no one does this. For the most part a job will require at minimum two interviews and 3 if the position is higher. One will be with the recruiter. This is an initial interview. They go over the role and the position and the requirements and you tell them how your experience or education or both fit that role and if they think the hiring manager might like you, you go on to the next step and interview with your direct manager/supervisor. If it’s a higher level position then usually the hiring manager will also want you to interview with the department head so that they get to know who you are before you are hired. Management position, leadership position, higher tier job will require multiple interviews and vetting process.
- The after “you are hired” process. Even after you get through the multiple interviews there is still a lot of work you have to do on your end to complete the process and be “Hired” and start working. That is why usually they give you 2–4 weeks before you start working. There are things you have to complete before starting a job. First thing is to read and accept your offer letter. Then comes signing documents for a background screening. This by the way is done through a company and documents and information are submitted through a portal and not to a person. Check to make sure they are legitimate you can do that by searching for them on the internet and checking their credentials. It should also advise you that it is a secure site when you log in. If you are emailing your documents to a person, that should be a red flag and you should ask questions. At the same time as the background screening you will receive an email about going to a site for drug screening. Which you have to go and complete by a certain date and pass the drug screening before you can start. If you fail to provide the documents or something comes up during these steps that hinder your hiring process, two things can happen either your hiring date will be pushed back till the issue is resolved or your job offer will be rescinded and you will have lost the job before you even start.
I believe the more you know the less likely you will be taken advantage of so please do your research. If you were not aware of the lengthy hiring process and everything that you had to do before, during, and after, I hope I have shed some light and you do not fall pray to anyone trying to take advantage. I understand it is a difficult and stressful time so please ask questions and look into anything that does not seem right to you. The recruiters will not be offended if you ask questions. That is their job. In todays society, unless you have won the lottery or are independently wealthy, we need a job to sustain our lives and no one should take advantage of that. I hope my unsavory experience helps someone avoid a detrimental mistake. Good luck on any future interviews and be vigilant.