Stay safe when job seeking

Changing course

In the current competitive jobs market, there are many opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and organisations to offer fake or fraudulent vacancies in an attempt to steal money or your identity. It is very important to be aware of possible scams and pitfalls both online and elsewhere.

Jobs boards and recruitment agencies

There are a large number of jobs boards like Monster, Totaljobs or CareerBuilder who offer a whole range of vacancies, then others like Indeed.com which act as a portal, allowing you to search many jobs boards at once. Professional bodies along with specialist jobs boards also offer vacancies related to their area of work.

Do your research before registering on a jobs board. In particular, read their sections: About us, Terms and conditions and Privacy policy, to satisfy yourself that they are well established, reputable and offer suitable student or graduate vacancies. You could also check the SaferJobs website to verify that the jobs board you plan to use promotes job scam awareness.

Recruitment agencies promote vacancies online but are also likely to have offices providing a more personal service. If you get the opportunity, call in and speak to them so you can reassure yourself that you are dealing with a reputable organisation. You should also check that they are members of a trade association, adhering to a set of national standards. Search for them via:

Only provide essential personal information

When you submit your CV to a jobs board or recruitment agency, you will need to include your personal details, so an organisation can make contact and invite you for interview. Name, email and phone number are usually enough, so you can leave out your address. Only include your address if you are applying directly to an individual employer, e.g. for an advertised vacancy (see the advice below on checking vacancies). Don't give your home address if you are sending speculative applications to employers.

Finally, never include your national insurance, passport number or bank details.

Vacancies - what to look out for

You should be particularly vigilant if you encounter any of the following:

  • The vacancy advert has poor spelling and grammar or it is one that seems generally unprofessional
  • The vacancy arrives directly into your email account from a source you do not recognise
  • There is no landline telephone number
  • There is a hotmail or gmail contact rather than one with the company name
  • You receive a job offer without an interview, or without having met the employer, or after a very basic introduction to the work
  • The job offered is very different to the vacancy advertised
  • The rate of pay is higher than you might expect for the duties listed

Additionally, be alert if you are:

  • asked to run errands buying goods for the employer which will be reimbursed with a cheque
  • asked to make payments on their behalf via MoneyGram, Western Union, or PayPoint
  • asked to provide personal details eg a copy of your driving licence, passport or bank details without having met the employer or having verified that they have a legitimate need for this information
  • asked to undertake an observation visit or to accompany staff on a day’s work without pay
  • expected to recruit staff and become a team leader in order to progress. This may be promised within an unrealistic period of time 

Be suspicious, be vigilant

If you have suspicions about any vacancy you find online – including those that may be advertised on legitimate job websites, including Career Connect – we advise you to:

  • Stop - don’t respond to any correspondence if you feel unsure or suspicious about the vacancy - don’t give out any personal information – this could be used for identity theft
  • Research - use the internet to find out more about the organisation or employer you are in touch with – discussion forums often provide useful feedback – add the word ‘scam’ to your search
  • Check out the SaferJobs website - this not-for-profit organisation has been set up to help to protect job seekers from falling prey to scam jobs
  • Contact the Careers Service at: careers@sheffield.ac.uk -let us know about your experience and we will endeavour to follow up your concerns – please keep any emails as evidence of your experience
  • Contact the Police or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 – if you have been a victim of fraud and want to report it
  • Beware of Fraud Recovery Fraud – fraudsters may contact you offering you legal help to recover money you have lost. Be suspicious and only deal with those you know to be genuine

Find out more by watching the 'Scamspotting video' produced by Student Communications