Kimberli Lowe-MacAuley* shares tips to protect yourself online during a job search.
Spyware, adware, viruses, phishing scams, and job scams—if you’re in the middle of a job search, you’ll probably encounter at least one (and perhaps several!) of these nasty things.
Consider how often you hand in a paper resume or application now.
It’s probably extremely rare.
Even if you go in person, many companies will direct you to their online career portal to ensure that all applicants’ information is captured correctly.
Job scams are of particular interest to the team at FlexJobs because one of our core values is to help job seekers avoid job scams.
We diligently create a safe space to search for legitimately remote and flexible jobs.
In that spirit, we’re asking you to take a few minutes to double-check your online job search activity and ensure you’re not inadvertently participating in risky behaviour.
Protecting yourself during an online job search
In many ways, moving job searching online has made finding a job substantially more manageable.
However, with constantly evolving technology and processes, scammers and threats also gain in sophistication.
As online interactions become more commonplace, it can be easy to let your guard down.
Is it possible that you engage in risky online job search behaviours? Assess the following areas where job seekers need to remain vigilant in protecting themselves.
Posting your resume online
Sharing too many details, like your home address or phone number, leaves you open to scams.
On the other hand, every business and job site has an area to upload or store your resume.
Your first step should always be to verify that the site has a professional business URL that appears reputable.
There should be an “s” at the end of the HTTP signifying a security certificate.
Look for well-known verification badges, such as from the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe, throughout the company site.
If you’re ever unsure, do more research into the company before uploading.
Also, consider whether you sought out the company or if it was an email or social media post you’re responding to.
Scammers often use web addresses that, at first glance, appear similar to the legitimate company site.
While you should always take a moment to verify information, take extra caution if you’re not the one who initiated the interaction.
Sharing your contact information
As a best practice, consider setting up an email specifically for your job search correspondence.
There are several reasons why this is a good choice.
For instance, you won’t risk an important message from a recruiter getting lost in the 250 daily mailing lists you somehow managed to subscribe to.
But also, this ensures that if you do run into scammers, they don’t have your actual email address.
There are no password resets for your bank, credit card, or other accounts attached to this separate job search email.
Providing personal information
Before you’ve even been offered a job, scam employers will often ask for information, like your bank account or credit card numbers, social security number, a scan of your driver’s license, or other sensitive data.
Make it a habit to think through why a prospective employer might need this information at this point in the hiring process.
If you haven’t even reached the interview stage yet, the answer is—they don’t.
Don’t hesitate to question them further on why they might be looking for this information.
Follow your gut
A lengthy job search can be overwhelming, making it easy to leap into a scam that you would otherwise avoid.
Don’t let the scammers take advantage of your burnout.
Watch out for some of the following red flags:
- Taking jobs that seem easy
If you want to make quick cash online, plenty of scammers are waiting to take advantage of you.
Moving money through wire transfers, reshipping products, and assembling crafts are all typical “easy money” scam jobs.
- Accepting job offers without an interview
Scammers sometimes offer a job right upfront, without any application process or screening interviews.
- Accepting job offers from out of the blue
Scammers also contact people through LinkedIn and other sites to offer them a job, even when they haven’t applied.
While you might get recruited to apply for an opening, there’s never a scenario where you’ll be offered a job without any sort of interview and discussion.
- Ignoring a “gut feeling” that something isn’t right
Logically, most of us are pretty good at detecting unusual situations or strange behaviour.
But when you’re searching for a job, you may ignore the signs that something is amiss because you really want/need a job.
Unfortunately, con artists know that you’re vulnerable and exploit that need.
Enjoy a scam-free job search
Did you know that we have an entire section dedicated to news and information related to job scams? Check out our Avoiding Job Scams articles to learn the latest job scams, such as recruiter fraud, social media scams, job seeker identity theft, and seasonal or holiday job scams.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to be proactive in conducting your job search safely, avoiding risky behaviour before they get a chance to invade.
Use relevant keywords
Don’t search “work-from-home” or “work-at-home jobs” because scammers commonly use those phrases.
Instead, use good job search keywords, like “virtual job” and “remote job,” which are far more likely to be used by legitimate employers.
Dedicate time to research
Research each company extensively before applying.
Ideally, you should develop a list of companies that mirror your values and have an appealing culture.
This research also serves to help you detect any bogus companies before you have submitted your information.
And if at any point along the way something seems too good to be true or gives you pause, pay attention to those feelings and proceed with extreme caution.
Capitalize on flexjobs’ scam-free database
Our researchers screen every job and company before it’s posted to our site to identify and remove scam jobs before our job seekers are exposed.
Searching for a position on FlexJobs means you’ll find only legitimate, professional-level listings.
You’ll save time and won’t have to worry about losing valuable personal information to a thief.
*Kimberli Lowe-MacAuley is a Content Coordinator for FlexJobs.
This article first appeared at flexjobs.com