Tips to Spot a Social Media Job Scam
Social media is a hot spot to post and find job listings, but it’s not always clear what is legitimate. Unfortunately, scammers have mastered targeting and taking advantage of desperate job seekers and people fall victim to jobs that are too good to be true every day.
Fortunately, some of those jobs DO exist. You don’t have to report every recruiter who dangles the too-perfect remote job, salary, or experience in front of you on social media. You just need to know which opportunities to respond to and when to hard pass.
Here are a few tips to help you spot red flags when looking for jobs on social media and through social networking:
Generally, a valid job posting from a recruiter on social media will include the same professional details about the job, benefits, or pay you’d expect to find in listing on a job site. If the only highlights are ‘remote work’ and an unbelievable salary, you may have stumbled across a scam.
Often, you will find job ads in groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, and these posts can be made by anyone who is approved to join. Public groups have no admin filter to catch on to phishing bots and scammers so it’s up to you to keep your guard up on the job search.
If you decide to reach out for more information, be very deliberate about the details you ask for. Inviting them to tell you more about the job is less effective at revealing a possible scam than asking specific questions such as:
- Can you direct me where to review the job description on your careers page or a job site?
- Can you tell me more about the application and interview process?
- Are you a recruiter or an employee? Can you tell me more about the company?
Typically, if these questions cannot be answered clearly and confidently, the job opportunity is not legitimate and you should decline to provide any personal information or follow any links to apply.
Your first red flag you may have been targeted by a scammer on social media could be a private message you receive from an unknown contact that suggests you are getting a response to a job application or request for information.
You should be tracking your job search by logging jobs you’ve applied for, what companies you’ve researched, who you’ve connected with, etc. It’s possible someone different from a contact you’re expecting could reach out to you. But if you don’t recognize the job description, company or the timing seems off, look for more clues before clicking links or submitting personal information.
If you receive a message within an app, such as Facebook or Instagram messenger, take a look at the profile of the sender on social media. One indicator this person is not who they say they are is how old their account is compared to how many friends/followers they have. Scammers often create fake accounts and send out bulk requests to establish a large number of connections quickly to appear legitimate.
Another factor to note is their activity. If it’s evident they have thrown together a feed hastily with random photos, gifs, and disconnected or unprofessional content, steer clear.
If you receive an email from a social media connection or someone claiming to know you’re active in a particular group, check the email address of the sender. Most professional email addresses will include some variation of the sender’s name and the company. Be suspicious of anything cryptic or vague. Inspect URLs and attachments you receive in the same way.
Even if no immediate red flags turn up when safe searching email addresses and social media profiles, you may want to double-check the professional connections of the contact. One of the best ways to initiate this search is to jump onto LinkedIn. You can try performing a “people search” but if they have a very common name, you may need to also search the company.
Keep in mind that not everyone uses LinkedIn or keeps their profile up-to-date. And recruiters can be victims of scammers as well. Consider that someone may have been clever enough to use their name and company to evade suspicion. If you find a contact on LinkedIn but something seems amiss about a job post you saw or an email you received, don’t be afraid to send the recruiter an in-mail message confirming the information.
The same goes for messages you receive through LinkedIn. If the recruiter and job opportunity are legitimate, they should be able to share a reliable source and/or acceptable reason for why they have targeted you.
Researching a company should be easy enough. However, many scammers today have advanced their skills in creating a system of smoke and mirrors that can confuse even the most cautious job seekers. For example, you may be provided with the name of an organization and a link to what appears to lead to a company you recognize. Unfortunately, the link may even land you on a job application that appears professional and legitimate – but is actually a phishing scheme.
Before you risk clicking on a fake company careers page, try running an internet search for the company. Check the link to their page listed in your reliable browser against what they provided in their outreach. If you notice any differences in the URL of their home page or careers page, it’s best to follow up with the company to confirm if someone contacted you directly through the verified webpage.
It’s possible a company could reach out to you to schedule an interview or submit a resume through a link to a private page, so if you applied for a job with this company, play it safe rather than sorry. They will appreciate you taking cyber security seriously, especially if there is a legitimate reason for your concern.