An investigation by the BBC has brought the phrase jobfishing to many job hunters’ attention. Their investigation exposed a design agency that signed employees up to contracts that only paid in commission for the first six months, where no payments were ever made.
Employees of the design agency were attracted to the position by the possibility of future earnings that would never materialise. Alongside this, the BBC reports that the business used underhanded tactics to attract employees to them, using “fake employees” to participate in Zoom calls.
The pandemic and rise of remote working jobs have opened the door to a wave of new job scams. The UK government reported that in 2020, seasonal job scams rose by 88% compared to the previous year.
Job scams are a type of fraud that occurs when people take advantage of their victims in order to obtain monetary or material gain. They come in a variety of forms which range from false promises and misrepresentations to outright theft.
There are many types of job scams, but the most common ones include:
Fake companies: This scam is when someone creates a company and pretends to be hiring for it. They might even have an office or website, but the jobs don’t actually exist.
Job boards scam: This scam is when someone posts jobs on job boards without any intention of hiring anyone. They might also post fake ads on other websites and use bots to post the same ad over and over again in order to increase their chances of attracting people.
Unpaid labour: This is where someone is hired on a trial basis with a promised contract afterwards or payment upon completion of work, where the money is never paid.
Multi Level Marketing: Also known as Pyramid Schemes, they recruit people to sell their products or services through person-to-person sales and recruit others to join the company promising a percentage of the sales they make.
How do you spot a job scam?
There are several things to look out for when job hunting to make sure that you are not to enter into a job scam, such as jobfishing. Look out for these things.
Companies you have never heard of before
If you are applying for jobs in your local area, there’s a good chance you might have heard of them before, or know of someone in your social circle who has worked there.
Be wary of employers you have never heard of. Take time to adequately research them before providing them with any personal details, including a copy of your CV.
Companies with little online presence
Companies with little online presence should be treated with caution. In the modern era, it is not unreasonable to expect a business to have a website, social media presence or Google Business listing.
Companies with an unprofessional web presence
If the employer is a company you are unfamiliar with, pay close attention to the details you can find about them online.
Does their website look professional?
Is the text well written?
Do they regularly post on social media and have many followers?
Does it sound like they know their industry?
Is the pay suspiciously high compared to similar jobs advertised in your area? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Low barriers to entry
Most advertised jobs require some sort of qualifications or experience to be successful in gaining them. Be cautious of jobs that advertise no experience or education needed.
Jobs that are prepared to take on anybody and everybody could be a sign that they aren’t very legitimate, especially if they are offering unusually high earning potentials.
Upfront payment required
Legitimate jobs do not require you to pay anything upfront to join their organisation. If this is something a business is asking you to do, you might be walking into a scam.
How to avoid falling for a job scam?
Research the company
Before applying for a position, it is important to conduct thorough research on the company to discover whether or not they even exist or how long they have been trading for. Businesses formed less than 12 months ago should be approached with caution.
Obviously, not all new businesses are illegitimate, but pay attention to what they are offering and the language they use.
Take the time to read through what information you can find on them, does it sound professional and realistic?
Use search engines and social media to find reviews and comments about the business from other people. Try tools like Google News to find any examples of where they have appeared in the news, whether nationally or locally.
Do not hand over personal details
Before applying to a job role you are unsure about, see if there is an email address you can contact them on to seek further clarification on details.
Look for a professional email address that ends in the companies website domain name and a generic email such as gmail.com or hotmail.com.
If you do not receive a reply or receive one that is unprofessional, presents unrealistic earnings or a deal that looks anything other than ordinary, hit the delete button and move on.
Ask others to look at it
If you are unsure if a job advert is a scam, ask a friend or family member with more experience in the job market to take a look and ask for their opinion.
If in doubt, move on
A job advert from a respectable business should not look like a scam in any way. It will have clearly defined job responsibilities and a job title.
The company will also be easy to find online and for most, will have a physical office/headquarters you can identify on Google Maps.
If you have any suspicions over a job advertisement, ignore it and look for opportunities elsewhere.