There is no better teacher than personal experience, so when I almost fell for a recruiting scam I thought I better share my experience with you. First, you need to know that because you are in a job search, you are more susceptible to scams than others. That’s because you want to find a great job, and scammers can easily identify exactly what type of “great job” you are looking for and use it as a lure to “hook you” and get you to give them private information that they can use for nefarious purposes.

I got a message on LinkedIn from a recruiter (that I didn’t know) asking for a phone call to discuss a contract opportunity at a company I was targeting. My first reaction was to get excited because I really wanted to work at this target company. So I called and was immediately pressured to send my resume within the hour and fill out a short application. The company the recruiter worked for was unknown to me, but I felt like I didn’t have time to research them because I needed to send my resume and application as soon as possible. Next, they wanted to set up a second phone interview for the next day, supposedly with the client. So now I had time to research the company the evening before my second interview. I didn’t like what I found because the copyright on the website was for the wrong year, the parent company was in India, and they primarily did technology-related work (and not staffing). I was officially suspicious but proceeded with the plan. The next morning I asked some questions, mainly who I would be having this second phone interview with. I was told it would be two people who work at the staffing agency (and not the client) as a screening interview. So now I am even more suspicious and I tell my friend who is also in the middle of a job search. He tells me it sounds like a scam, and it’s like I needed to hear that from someone else in order to believe it myself. I reviewed what I knew, and I saw lots of red flags and came to the conclusion it was a scam. I proceeded to block the recruiter on Google, report him as spam and also report him on LinkedIn as “I think this person impersonates someone”.

Here are some “red flags” to be aware to help you spot a recruiting scam:

    • Were you contacted about a job out-of-the-blue (for a job you never applied for)? Be aware that it is unlikely that a recruiting agency stumbled across you on the internet. And if they did, you better triple check their credentials.
    • Was the interview setup quickly? Be on the alert, recruiting scams like to move rapidly to decrease the chance of you checking the legitimacy of the job opportunity.
    • Have you heard of the recruiting agency? If not you need to search for them to see if they have a legitimate website or a sketchy website.
      • Here are some things that would alert you to what I consider a sketchy website
        • Copyright is not the correct year
        • Parent company does not primarily do staffing
        • Domain name redirects you to another domain name
        • Redcruiting agency is established in another country
    • Does the job appear to be exactly what you’re looking for? If it’s too good to sound true, then it probably isn’t true.
    • Just because they don’t ask for your social security number or for money at first, doesn’t mean they won’t eventually. The way these scams work is they first try to build your trust. They might do this by specifically telling you something like “no social security number required” to convince you not to be suspicious of them.

I was in shock that I went along with the scheme up to the point of a second phone interview. I mean I was already aware of job recruiting scams, and even shared How to Spot a Job Scam after my friend almost sold all of his possessions to accept a job in another country (only the job never existed). But here I was, learning first-hand how easy it is to fall for these scams because your optimism is taken advantage of by the scammers.

Did you almost get scammed by a job that didn’t really exist? Please share your story in the comments!