When you are looking for a job, you are susceptible to scammers. The combination of your vulnerability and the fact that you have to reach out to many companies that you don't know, gives con artists lots of opportunities to get your personal information, your money, or even your (unknown) participation in a crime. These scammers are smart and they've done this many times before. However, you can usually stay safely out of their grip by following a few guidelines:
Check out the company. If you are not familiar with the company, it is a good idea to do a little research. Look at their website and see if it seems legit. How long have they been in business? Do they have an actual location that you can visit? Is there anyone in your network who has either worked with or dealt with this company? If nobody has heard of the company and you can't find the location, that is definitely a concern.
Don't be too quick to hand over your information. It is normal for an employer to ask you to bring copies of your certificates, degrees and diplomas to a job interview. It is normal for an employer to ask you to bring your SIN Card and a void cheque to your first day of work. It is not normal for employers to request this information at the application stage. If an employer is immediately demanding a lot personal information, it might not be worth the risk.
Be wary of anything that seems too good to be true. "We would like to hire you (without an interview) for a 'work from home' Human Resources Manager position paying $80,000 a year (even though you don't have any HR experience). As your mother used to say, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Never give an employer any money for any reason. There is no legitimate reason that an employer would be asking an applicant for money. If they are asking you to pay for training, to download a computer program, to pay for a resume review, to pay for credential assessment, you should consider it to be a huge red flag and move on.
When in doubt, Google it. If somebody is trying to scam you, it is likely not their first rodeo. Google the company, or even better, Google the company's name with the word 'scam'. If it is a scam, some reports might pop up.
If you've done all your homework but still have a nagging feeling that something is off, trust your gut. Your subconscious may have picked up on something. You may decide to pursue the job carefully and to ask a lot questions along the way. As a job seeker you are little more vulnerable to these scams, but if you keep your eyes open, you should be able to avoid most of them.
(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)