Ten Ways to Avoid First-Job SCAMS!

Congratulations Class of 2023!   As you venture into the “real” world, endless opportunities abound!  LinkedIn is increasingly leading the networking and job listing space so make sure your profile is up to date and optimized for search engines (that’s another article for another post).   With the job market for college graduates surpassing pre-Covid levels, this is a great time to launch a professional career.   However, predatory recruiters and job scams are abundant, especially targeting entry-level job seekers.   Marketing, social media and public relations areas are especially vulnerable with hundreds of “marketing/promotions” jobs that sound great.  However, many of these are actually just commission-only predatory sales positions, telemarketing job schemes, multi-level marketing or pyramid enterprises… or worse.


Here’s how to spot a “fake” or less-than desirable opportunity.

  1. Google the company name and key word “scam,” “fraud,” “complaints” or “lawsuits.”  It is amazing what pops up when you add a few key word searches.
  2. Where and how was the advertisement posted?  Indeed and Linked-In are full of amazing opportunities, but unfortunately bad job leads too.  If there isn’t a formal job listing, avoid it.   If you can’t track the opportunity back to a company web site or legitimate job site, it is probably not a desirable opportunity.  Finally, if they require no experience (even for entry-level) or no details about skills required, it is unlikely to be a viable job.
  3. Be sure the company has a legitimate and professional web site. Does the domain name even exist? Does the site just have stock photography and no real employee biographies or photos?  Red flag.  Do more research.  If the site talks up their amazing employees, but don’t mention the type of work or business they actually do, it is likely a scam company.
  4. Verify the actual address, phone number and location. Do a map check.  See if they pop up on other legitimate search engines.
  5. Check for companies with multiple business names. These are usually companies that constantly change their name to avoid lawsuits.  You can also check to see if the company is listed with the local area Chamber of Commerce or search the Better Business Bureau.
  6. Check out Glassdoor.com or other job review sites. Scroll through employee reviews.
  7. Did you already accept the interview and get cattle-called in? Did they offer you a job right on the spot?  If the answer is yes, than this is likely a company with a VERY high turnover rate or a pay to play position.
  8. You have to pay a placement fee or start up investment.  You should never have to pay a recruiter or a company to get started in a position.
  9. No career path outlined! “Fast-advancement” is not a career path.  Ask for job details in writing, supervisor information, review process and ask them to outline the compensation and benefits IN WRITING.  If they won’t do this, this isn’t the job for you.
  10. Final gut check. These are warning signs:  They have dozens of openings and A LOT of great job titles.  They promote fast to management positions.  They seem like they are pitching you vs. you trying to get the job.  When you submitted your application, they call you back almost immediately and want to talk or meet with you right away.

Sadly the adage, “if it sounds too good to be true….” is a popular phrase for a reason.

There are hundreds of amazing companies out there. Be patient, do diligent research and keep at it (click here for: Ten Ways to Find a Job)  and you will land a great job at a quality company.

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