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Employment Scams – what to be aware of when job searching online

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Aisling Harrison Blog, Job Search

With such high rates of unemployment at the moment and the job-market so unbearably tense and crowded, job-hunting has become that of a full-time vacancy for many, without the reward of a full-time salary.

Candidates are quite rightly, stressed and overwhelmed by 2020’s decrease in hiring and the fierce competition. Job-hunting for a dream role is stressful at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic and recession.

With this added pressure to secure employment, candidates are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by online job scammers; therefore, it’s crucial they know the signs of suspicious or dangerous job scams and exploitation.


One of the biggest incentives for an employment fraudster to create a job scam is to deceive or manipulate their victims into giving them money.

For example, a fake recruiter might ask for a fee for looking for work on a candidate’s behalf. It is illegal for recruiters to charge candidates a fee for finding them work. The only reason a job seeker would pay an agency is for additional services such as career coaching or CV/application support.

Anyone asking the applicant to cover recruitment costs is a major red flag. Candidates may require certain documents and certificates for particular roles. Even if there is a cost involved to secure this, a candidate shouldn’t be asked upfront for a fee by someone advertising or offering them a job.

Also, while many businesses have adopted remote recruitment practices this year, candidates need to be alert to any alleged phone interviews when they are being asked to call premium-rate numbers.


The only personal data that should be disclosed by an applicant is your name, contact number and email. Other private information such as banking details, home address and date of birth is not necessary in the initial application process.

Candidates should be alarmed if an alleged hiring employer or recruiter is asking for copies of their passport or driving license, prior to meeting them.

Candidates must ensure their data is in the right hands, as scammers will use it to steal money, identity and other valuable credentials.


Employment phishing is a fraudulently engineered email, designed to deceive a candidate into willingly sending private data or transferring money for what they think is a legitimate job offer or interview.

Scammers may use HTML tricks to disguise their email addresses and graphics to replicate and impersonate legitimate companies. They’ll contact people offering them work or support either in exchange for data or money.

Some scammers will also embed a malicious file or link in the email, like Ransomware which will encrypt your data or lock your computer unless you pay a fee.

Signs of phishing:

  • Non-company specific email domain e.g. @yahoo, @gmail, @hotmail
  • No previous engagement with the sender
  • Unprofessional tone
  • Poor grammar and spelling
  • Lack of branding, graphics and logos
  • Bulk recipients
  • No personalisation
  • Attachments with random file names
  • Expressing no interest in the recipient’s suitability
  • Promising employment
  • Inappropriate subject lines


Stay safe on and offline at all times.