How to Spot Fake Job Offers

Job searching is tough work. No one wants the added hassle of having to weed out the fake online job ads from legitimate and genuine job opportunities.


I have three simple steps that help you to spot the ‘snoopers’ and ‘scammers’.

Most jobseekers tend to spend a lot of energy looking for work online. If you are one of these guys watch out for signals that you should undertake some critical thinking and background research before you submit your confidential application to a dubious advertisement.


These ads are what I call potential “snoopers” and “scammers.”

The Snoopers

Snoopers are anonymous job ads which are mostly designed to scope out the job market, see who’s searching for work in a particular sector and gather sample resume and cover letter content and data.

It doesn’t take much skill to create free, anonymous online job ads in most major job portals and social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. This practise is as old as jobseeking and some unethical businesses, and even other recruiters, may create fake job postings to see who’s out there looking for work, what their credentials are and how many jobseekers are responding to job ads.

This practise is particularly common with Black Sheep Hiring Professionals.

You need to be very careful to respond to online job postings that don’t identify who the prospective employer is, especially if you’re currently employed and you don’t want your boss to find out you’re looking for a new job. If you choose to reply to a posting without knowing where you’re sending your resume, be warned that your employer may find out, particularly if they’ve posted a fake ad trying to catch staff planning to jump ship (it does happen). You could also just be helping recruiters or in-house hiring managers with their research or budgeting work if you supply your application.

The Scammers

Scammers deliberately place misleading job ads which are designed to scam jobseekers out of money and personal and private information. These are particularly annoying as they take advantage of people who are working hard to find a new job, are genuinely interested in a job ad and who may be facing mounting financial stress. Avoid these types of fake job postings at all costs and be alert when you check job ads – no matter where and when. Ensure to protect your personal information, your money and your time and always be on the lookout for the following signs that a job posting might be a scam.

1. Something just doesn’t seem right.

These signs could point out that the job posting is probably fake:

  • The job posting looks and sounds unprofessional: contains poor spelling and grammar; vague or generic job descriptions; unreasonably low credentials required; unrealistically high pay and benefits
  • The job is for a company with a name that sounds very similar to a well-known, reputable company
  • The name in the ad suggests that the employer is associated with, or a department of, the government. Watch out for fake signs such as national flags, emblems or official looking crests that are similar to images used on legitimate government websites and documents. Most online government job postings are done through the government’s own websites.
  • The ad uses a free email address such as Gmail or Yahoo with an unprofessional username (i.e. [email protected]). Likewise, if the username sounds too formal, the scammer may be overcompensating by giving himself a ridiculously official-sounding username.
  • Anchor text and web addresses that don’t match the link in the URL preview pane
  • Graphics, logos and images that are poorly pixilated — this could be a sign that the site has copied low-res logos and images from other legitimate businesses.


2. The job ad is asking you to pay a membership, subscription or other fees

If a job posting requires you to pay a fee in order to submit an application or to be considered for an interview, it’s a scam! MOVE ON – Don’t waste any of your time. Similarly, if you’re asked to pay for training materials or web-based training seminars in order to even qualify to apply for the job, be wary. Legitimate businesses don’t require you to pay for your own training. And while we are on the subject, watch out for bogus invitations to informational weekend events at funky hotels or venues. They do it on the weekend for a good reason. It’s cheaper and less conspicuous.


3. Avoid job ads that ask for your sensitive and private information

Be alarmed if the ads request you to disclose any personal information that you wouldn’t include on your resume. Private information such as your date of birth, marital status or your banking information is only required after your prospective employer has presented a formal written job offer that you’ve accepted. Be alarmed that it’s not hard for a determined fraudster to piece personal information together to steal your identity and do things like apply for loans in your name.

Follow your gut feelings, listen to your intuition and apply your common sense when reviewing a job posting. Just always remember, if a job posting sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So, get back to your job hunt and apply these simple job ad check-ups. They are designed to help you to job search smarter, not harder. Be alert and remember to hunt wisely!


PS – Share, like or tweet this post, if you know a jobseeker or a friend who is planning to make a career change in the near future.