It’s important to be able to spot the warning signs when a job opportunity is not legitimate when searching for jobs online.
Our Careers and Employability team review each job advertisement published on CareerHub to ensure, where possible, that jobs are genuine, lawful and non-discriminatory. Occasionally, however, a job may get through our rigorous checks or you might find something through a different website that you wish to apply for. So, it’s important to be vigilant when deciding whether to apply for a specific role or not.
Resist the pressure to apply quickly
Almost all vacancies which are advertised will have a closing date and you will need to apply before that date for your application to be considered. It’s important to note that some job advertisements may even close early if an organisation receives enough applications.
However, if you are feeling pressured to apply immediately, or there is perceived pressure to sign paperwork without the chance to read and consider it properly, this should be a warning sign. Look at the company website to check their advertised vacancies, calling them to confirm anything you may be unsure of if necessary.
Protect your identity
Be aware of the information that you are sharing with a third party. This could include an employer, a recruitment agency or even uploading your information onto a website. Your CV should always include basic contact information – your email address and telephone number; but it doesn’t need to include your address (although you may wish to add a general area e.g. Chester).
DO NOT include details such as your National Insurance number, passport number, date of birth or bank details in your CV. Genuine employers won’t ask for this information until you have a formal job offer and you shouldn’t disclose this information until you’re sure that the opportunity is genuine.
Avoid paying upfront costs
Don’t get tricked into paying any upfront costs for fake security checks, certification or training, or sending money in advance for interview travel, software or equipment. Genuine companies won’t ask you to pay in advance for any part of the recruitment process, although there may be instances where you are required to pay for your travel to attend an interview or assessment centre (some companies, and especially larger companies, may reimburse your travel expenses).
If a premium rate or international phone number is the only way to respond to a job advertisement, or you’re asked to call a premium rate number for a phone interview (usually starting with 0070 or 09), the job may not exist and the charge for the phone call can be very expensive. It is normal practice for employers to provide you with a landline number that you can call.
Check emails carefully
Fake email addresses can look convincing, so make sure to check the details carefully. It might look like an official email address but check for anything that doesn’t seem right – this could include a missing letter, slight changes to the name, spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
If a personal email address is being used rather than a company email address, you may want to check this out further. If you’re not sure whether it’s genuine, look at the company website or contact the employer to ensure it’s genuine.
If you receive emails about a job that you haven’t applied for then you should immediately be suspicious, especially if they ask for any personal information or bank details.
Be realistic – if it seems too good to be true then it probably is!
If the opportunity being advertised seems to be paying way above the market average, offering far more benefits than you would expect for the level of work or a large salary with “no experience needed”, then be on alert. We’d advise you to be careful and conduct some additional checks.
If you’re offered a role without any sort of application process, particularly if the next step is to pay for something in advance to be able to do the job, it’s likely to be a scam so do not apply!
Examples of scam jobs include (but sadly aren’t limited to) the following:
- Any job that requires you to supply bank or financial information, passport or similar identification at the first stage of application is probably phishing. A legitimate employer might require these details, but only after a formal job offer is made to you.
- Roles offering high pay for minimal work can sometimes use your bank account for money laundering scams so do not apply! There are serious legal consequences for employers for this type of activity.
- Pyramid selling – these include roles where you’re recruited by a seller above you to buy stock with the intention of selling it on. Roles like this also expect you to make money by signing up new members to sell for you.
- Roles where you’re required to sell services or goods directly to all your personal contacts – the organisation may be after your sales leads and not your experience specifically.
- Any job that expects you to pay for training. The small print may say that you pay for the course but there may be no guarantee of work at the end of it.
If in doubt…
- Don’t apply for the job
- Don’t sign anything
- Don’t pay for any services on offer
- Don’t reply to any contact made to you by the organisation
- Don’t be reassured just because you see similar adverts across multiple websites. Some of these sites are connected or they make so much money quickly that they can afford to advertise widely before disappearing
- Check it is a legitimate business by seeing if the organisation is listed on Companies House
- Ask the Careers Service for a second opinion: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The SaferJobs website has more information and advice
- HMRC give advice on spotting phishing emails
- Recruitment agencies who are members of an industry association such as REC, APSCo or TEAM have standards in place to prevent job scams and will usually say what to do if you spot a fake opportunity
- Read the Graduate Coach blog about job scams and how to avoid them
- If you have any questions, come and talk to staff in Careers and Employability: email@example.com