Is Your Prospective Job Really What it Says it is?

In an increasingly digital working landscape, job-related scams have unfortunately increased in prevalence in recent years. Job scams as a whole were brought to public attention by a high-profile ‘jobfishing’ incident reported in February, where a fake design agency named Madbird hired more than 50 remote workers on ‘commission’, with the promise of a salary and visas for overseas workers.

With job scams becoming increasingly common, it is more vital than ever to carry out due diligence as a jobseeker before applying to positions. The following highlight some of the major signs a job opening may be fraudulent, at each stage in the hiring process.

The Job Advert

The earliest indications that a job may not be all it seems can be found in its advertisement. For example, if you see the job ad on posters around your city or as an advert in a newspaper, pay attention to its design. Is it well-formatted and professional? If images are used, are they low-resolution? These can all be evidence of a hastily arranged advert or a poor promotional budget, both of which can be alarm bells for the legitimacy of the business in question.

The job advert may mainly comprise of a job description, outlining the various duties and perks involved in taking the position. Is this description well-formatted, and is everything grammatically correct? Frequent spelling errors or poor copy can be telling. At this point, you should also consider the points laid out in the description and specification; do the duties outlined seem reasonable for the position? Is the description deliberately vague, and do the benefits seem a little too good to be true?

Online Presence

If you see a job advert that appears well laid-out and genuine, your next step should be to research the business. This is a useful process for any job interview, allowing you to read up on the business’ model and accolades, but can also reveal any potential red flags. For example, a business that calls itself a limited company might not be registered on Companies House, indicating a non-existent enterprise. The same rigours applied to job adverts can also be applied to company websites: does the website appear well-designed and well-maintained?

The Interview Process

Interviewing for a position is not only an opportunity to put yourself forward as a legitimate candidate for a position, but also an opportunity to learn more about the company and the way it operates. In this way, interviewing can reveal a lot about your prospective employer’s legitimacy. For starters, interviews held over an instant messaging service are suspect, as you don’t get to meet your interviewer face-to-face, or even via video-link.

If the interviewer appears not to have read your CV or asks relatively few questions about you and your experience, the position may be fraudulent. If the interviewer asks you for money at any point, whether to fast-track your progress or cover some administrative fee, the position is guaranteed to be a scam. Lastly, if the job offer itself is surprisingly fast, surprisingly easy or for more money than initially advertised, the opening may be fraudulent.


Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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