10 tips to protect yourself from online recruitment scams


We’re all hoping that one day someone is going to contact us and recognise our brilliance! We dream that a headhunter’s email will drop into our inbox and that, like a prince on a white charger, they will take us away from our every day life, double our salary and offer us the chance to change the world. In our new book You’re Hired! Job Hunting Online: The Complete Guide we discuss how to use the internet to drive your career forward, but also advise some caution.

With social media and sites like Linkedin the possibility of unsolicited job offers has grown, but you still need to be very careful. So in this post I’m offering you 10 tips to avoid getting scammed.

  1.  Be suspicious of any job that looks too good to be true. For example, if it appears that anyone can apply. Most vacancies will require particular skills, qualifications or experience. If the ad says ‘no experience necessary’, think again. This could be a sign that they want as many people as possible to respond to increase their chances of finding a victim.
  2. Be suspicious of adverts that encourage you to apply immediately. Scammers often try to get you to act quickly without giving you time to think. Most reputable vacancies will have fixed recruitment deadlines unless they are in high-turnover areas such as telesales and call centres.
  3. Check with the company where you will be employed. If an advert claims to be for a job with a particular company, go directly to the organisation’s website (don’t follow a link in an advert or email) and see if the vacancy is there. If in doubt, call and ask them.
  4. Check links and email addresses. So-called phishing scams attempt to trick you into visiting a spoof site and entering your login details. They may use web addresses that look very similar to the real site, but there will be subtle differences.
  5. Research the agency. It is easy to check who owns a web address by using the WHOIS service and to look for information about agencies in the Companies House register.
  6. Beware of poor spelling and grammar. This can often be the sign of a hastily concocted scam.
  7. Don’t just communicate with recruitment agents by email or text. Try to meet them in person or ask them to phone you. If they are reluctant and give excuses, then be on your guard. Don’t phone them in case it is a premium-rate phone scam.
  8. Don’t download attachments or allow software to be installed on your computer. They may be a way for criminals to get malicious programmes on your computer which can steal your passwords and bank details.
  9. Don’t hand over money. Legitimate recruitment agencies charge the employers not the candidates. If you are asked for administration fees or to pay for record checks, the alarm bells should start ringing. If you are asked to pay for training or police checks, tell them you will provide this yourself and bring in evidence.
  10. Don’t hand over your personal details. This also applies to your CV. This would include: date of birth, full postal address, passport number, driving licence number, National Insurance number, credit card or bank account numbers, your weight, height, hair colour, eye colour, marital status, number of children or any other personal information that is not relevant to employment.

For more information on how to avoid recruitment scams and to keep yourself safe have a look at SAFERjobs, Get Safe Online or Action Fraud.

If you found this post useful you may be interested to know that there is a lot more where this came from in our new book You’re Hired! Job Hunting Online: The Complete Guide.

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