Job-seeker scams in the era of online recruitment and adverts

Anton P. | March 15, 2022

Recruitment processes have fundamentally transformed over the last few years. There might be no face-to-face meetings from contacting promising candidates on LinkedIn to their first day. Such strictly-online communications amplify certain risks, like recruiters uncovering that hired talents falsified their resumes or interviews. Job-seekers also face the threat of applying to non-existent jobs or those requiring advance fees.

job scams

Thus, some job-seeker scams can merely waste precious time of intended targets like recruiters or applicants. However, others could exploit candidates with hopes of monetary gain.

The surge of job-hunting scams

Online scams have a tendency to direct their attention to the most profit-making domains. There are several reasons for fraudsters to focus on the job market:

  • The current unemployment rate in the US is 6.7%. It means that 10.7 million people are currently on the job hunt. The first thing scammers need is a lengthy target list, and applicants for various positions are ideal prey.
  • Another reason scammers create lucrative but fake job prospects is the favorable conditions. Many applicants can feel overwhelmed when a highly rewarding posting reaches them. Since job search can be physically and emotionally taxing, getting excited is natural. However, it can also make people drop their guard. Thus, vulnerable candidates can be lenient regarding ridiculous or unnecessary recruiters’ demands.
  • The remote recruitment processes enable applicants to cheat during interviews or fabricate resumes. Some candidates can pretend to be high-caliber experts in their respective fields. However, they may get help during interviews or hire specialists to complete screening tests.
  • The boom of digital job boards and social platforms. LinkedIn is a blessing for building a professional community and finding promising candidates. However, it also allows scammers to approach individuals looking for work with fake proposals.

Exploring the current job-seeker scams

The competitive hiring market is unpredictable. However, the current trends suggest that finding qualified candidates has reached high difficulty levels. Thus, recruiters quickly feel excited when an application they receive ticks all the boxes. Sadly, what sounds good on paper might not always reflect reality. And that brings us to the first scam circulating in the job market.

Fake candidate scams

Applicants exaggerating their skills on resumes is nothing new. Minor details can slip through recruiters’ radars. However, headhunters can face resumes that are complete fiction.

Also, after a thorough online recruitment process, HR specialists might not recognize the hired individuals. They might look different or have little recollection of things discussed previously. The most notable red flag will be that their skills and knowledge might be significantly lacking.

Ways for recruiters to detect fake resumes early on during head hunting:

  • Read applications and CVs carefully. Protocol described a revealing experiment on how attentively recruiters inspect candidates’ resumes. It appears that many companies, especially tech, use automation for filtering applications. They indicate specific keywords related to previous work experiences and skills. However, the experiment revealed that recruiters are unlikely to fully read even the filtered resumes.
  • Notice unrealistic jobs skills or experiences. An excessive number of skills can seem overwhelming and, at times, fictitious. If a resume includes too many in-demand skills, be cautious of it being a clickbait application.
  • Conduct visual screening method. Of course, it is much more efficient to implement remote recruitment during these uncertain times. However, meeting candidates in person will prevent them from fabricating their interviews or experience.
  • Check provided references. If candidates supply references, check whether they are genuine. Call the provided numbers and confirm if the specific individual has the specified experience with that employer.

Sensitive data or money-requiring scams

Many job-seeker scams can be after candidates’ personal information. That might include banking details, email and physical addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers, etc.

Let’s examine some of the common fraudulent job postings:

  • Adverts for highly-paid positions with low barriers of entry. Postings can offer various roles and require little to no experience in the field. Such a scenario hopes to attract as many people as possible.
  • Recruiters urging you to join their teams right away. Job seekers know that recruitment processes are lengthy. From sorting through the candidates to actual hiring, there are many steps. However, a scammer can congratulate you on getting the job in a matter of days or even hours. Then, they can make ridiculous requirements, discussed in the following points.
  • Companies asking for advance fees. Fraudulent recruiters can require money transfers to cover various expenses. There are many excuses that such fake recruiters can make, like processing or equipment purchases.
  • Equipment bought out of candidates’ pockets. In other cases, they might require devices like iPads or laptops that candidates must purchase themselves. Then, scammers could instruct applicants to send these devices for proper setup and software installation.

Recommendations for safe and transparent job search

The dark side of recruitment prompts both headhunters and applicants to be on their guard. One of the biggest errors is hiring as quickly as possible, frequently without applying the necessary diligence. Applicants themselves might be too eager to work, with outlandish requests failing to set off any alarms.

Here are some general tips for safe recruitment processes on both sides:

  • Recruiters should be more attentive to candidates. It includes explaining to applicants that the company has zero tolerance for lying. Such statements can ward off some of the fake candidates. Additionally, ensure that remote interviews happen in well-lit rooms. It is essential to pay attention to the candidate’s mouth and audio to ensure they sync up. Also, note if the applicant glances at anyone else in the room frequently.
  • Be wary of highly-tempting offers requiring little to no skills. Scammers can use such postings as bait. Instead of letting your guard down, skip through such offers. If you apply, try to find red flags and react to them adequately.
  • Legit companies are unlikely to use instant messaging platforms. Recruiters can find you on LinkedIn or other job-focused platforms. However, it is not necessarily common if headhunters wish to chat over Telegram or WhatsApp.
  • Notice red flags in recruiters. Are HR representatives being pushy and failing to answer basic questions? Scammers might not be incredibly professional, and interactions with them can seem odd.
  • LinkedIn scams and malware-ridden links. According to our research, emails impersonating LinkedIn manages to tempt many users. A swooping 47% open rate indicates that most targets are curious about job-related offers. So, be wary of emails allegedly coming from LinkedIn or recruiters within the platform.
  • Never send money or equipment to companies. Respectable companies will never ask you for advance fees. Also, they would not force you to buy work devices and promise reimbursement later.
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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.



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