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The Worst Sort of Scoundrels

Preying on the desperate is a horrible practice. When it comes to job postings, there's a lot of amoral people collecting applicant information by posting jobs that don't exist, are no longer available, or are entirely fake.

They do this for a variety of reasons, but for our purposes here, all we need to know is that they are fraudulently representing themselves as job sites when in fact all they do is collect the applicant information for ulterior purposes, some of which are nefarious, like identify theft.

Your resume contains a significant portion of your background. Would you willingly hand it to a known identify thief? Of course not.

For the average user to determine whether or not a job postings site is real is not easy. There is a typical bell curve: some sites are obviously fraudulent and disappear quickly, but some are very sophisticated and linger in use for years. Most fall into the middle meaning they are not blatantly obvious and hard to spot when you're in a hurry submitting dozens of resumes per day.

Warning signs you might be on a scam site:

  1. It's not one of the big names. This is the simplest rule to follow. If it's not a common name or job applicant site just avoid it.

  2. The job posted does not exist as a link from the company website. Big clue that it's fake. If the listing claims they are representing a company as an exclusive recruiter, you can exert a little effort to determine if they are a genuine executive recruiting site. Nobody uses executive recruiting sites, for the most part, so save your time and just avoid anything claiming to be exclusive that you can't easily verify.

  3. They want money to let you apply or join their club. Obvious red flag. May not be offered until after you've provided your resume.

  4. The job listing appears badly formatted. This is my favorite, because as a person who hires people, I want my open position notices to look professional. If the listing looks terrible, it means they scraped the info from someplace else and it's not really theirs to offer. Avoid them.

The consequences of providing your information range from a large increase in spam and junk phone calls, to genuine identity theft. Do what you can to avoid making those problems worse by avoiding scam sites.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Never provide your complete contact information. No street address; only city and state. Email and phone you have no choice, although if you're tech-savvy, you can finagle a temporary email and phone number for free or low cost.

  2. Never provide your references until you've established genuine contact. This protects them from getting more spam and junk calls.

What else can you do about it?

If you like the company being falsely represented, you can let them know about it by using the company contact information. This also gives you a chance to represent yourself to that company, even if they aren't hiring. So be sure to include your contact information and write your notification with the same care you would a cover letter. Who knows, you might get a call. At worst, it's another link in your networking, even if you aren't hired.

If you are advising job seekers, please feel free to disseminate this information but do keep our link on the copy. Good luck, job seekers!

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