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Is Your Job Offer Too Good To Be True?

If you're graduating soon, you're probably already started the job-search. You have a well-crafted resume, some smart interview outfits picked out, and are targeting some promising employment opportunities. But did you know that scammers could be targeting you? The job-market is hard enough without becoming the victim of identity theft or a Ponzi scheme, so follow these tips to make sure that your job offers and applications are legitimate.

Mar 17, 2016
  • Student Tips
Is Your Job Offer Too Good To Be True?

We all know by now that the internet is full of tricks and traps – rich princes, dead uncles, magic pills, and prizes for the millionth visitor are all just gimmicks aimed at emptying our pockets and stealing our identities. But for recent graduates, who often send out dozens, if not hundreds, of job applications using internet sites and applications, it can be difficult to tell the pros from the cons. Scammers are getting more sophisticated by the day, and recent graduates seeking jobs are targets, so here are some rules to follow as you go out into the wild world of job searches.

1. Don't part with your money or identity


The first rule of thumb for avoiding job scams is that no legitimate organization will every ask you to pay up front for anything. Whether it's selling knives (they promise you'll earn back the price of the demo set in a week!) to overseas jobs with six-digit salaries (just send money to cover the visa processing fee), if a job or company wants you to pay before you've met in person or read and signed the contract, you should be suspicious. Don't arrange to send (or receive) money, don't give out personal information like your social security number or passport details, and don't agree to send on goods or currency. These are all major red-flags and should tell you that something is not right.



That's why you should Google everything, even offers that seem legitimate. Scammers are getting craftier, and many schemes go to extreme measures to look real. Some even use the names or logos of actual companies and firms, but a quick search should reveal the more prominent scams. Visit the website of the legitimate company, check LinkdIn for the recruiter, and Google the email address. You'll discover the frauds in no time, and if the job is legitimate, you'll have acquired some good background for the interview. Speaking of websites and emails, remember that real job offers will come from corporate email accounts, not Hotmail or Yahoo accounts, and legitimate corporations will have a solid online footprint.

3. Pick good sources

Media business background

Remember when you were writing research papers and your professors stressed that it was important to pick good internet sources? Well, the same goes for job searches. If you're getting desperate to find a job, it might be tempting to reply to that sketchy offer from craigslist, but it's a better idea to stick with trusted job-seeking sources like LinkdIn, Milkround, Monster, and other well-known sites. Remember that it's a good sign if the job is listed on multiple sites.

4. Follow the news

Beautiful woman reading the newspaper while drinking coffee

Scammers can target anyone, anywhere, but there are areas and populations that are more frequently targeted than others. International students can find themselves victims of scams because they're more likely to be looking for jobs abroad or remote employment opportunities, and companies in countries that are popular with international job-seekers may be used more frequently as covers to target graduates. If you're living abroad and looking for a job, keep up-to-date on the news – news organizations are quick to pick up on active scams and will inform the public. If you live in or are seeking a job in an area that has a high rate of scam job schemes, be extra cautious when applying for jobs or responding to offers.

5. It can be too good to be true

magician shows trick with cards on the dark background

In the end, remember that if it seems too good to be true, it's probably a scam. Maybe it's an unsolicited job offer, a job-listing with an outrageous salary offer, a work-from-home position that promises riches, or a highly-skilled position that requires no experience, but if it seems improbable, do a little research. Graduates are rarely contacted if they've not applied for a position, and while the internet and global economy are making freelance and remote jobs more lucrative and possible, they're never 'easy-money.' And if you're still unsure, simply contact the company directly. If it's a hoax, you'll suss it out immediately, and if it's real, you'll have shown some impressive initiative.