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Avoiding Fraudulent Job Opportunities

As you likely know, Engineering Career Services works with a multitude of employers who are looking to hire Ohio State engineering students.  Some of the employers come on campus to do their recruitment.  Other employers prefer to simply post jobs that are specific to our students.  While ECS puts a lot of time and effort into screening the high number of job postings that we receive, there is always a possibility that a fraudulent one could slip through unnoticed.  Additionally, when you are searching on public job boards, you may encounter postings that are not trustworthy.  Below is some advice on warning signs to look out for, so that you know if the job you are about to apply to is legitimate—or not.  Avoid being taken advantage of by using these tips to spot fraudulent job postings.

The ad is poorly written.
If the job posting includes many spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, confusing details and/or completely lacks basic information, take this as a sign that it may not be on the up-and-up.  A poorly written posting may also indicate that the wording has been translated and is coming from a source that is not reputable. 

It sounds too good to be true.
Perhaps the salary advertised in the job posting is unrealistically high (compared with averages for your career path, field, qualifications, etc.).  Maybe the employer has called you and offered you a job on the spot (no phone screenings or interviews prior).  These can be clues that something is “off” with the position.  Do your due diligence and investigate further before accepting that these dream scenarios are reality. 

Emails are from a non-business email address.
The posting appears to be from a reputable and familiar company, yet the domain in the contact’s email address does not match the domain used by representatives of the company.  Legitimate contacts have their company’s name at the end of their email address.  You should avoid responding to emails where the contact’s email address is from Gmail, Hotmail, or any other non-company email address. 

You receive unsolicited emails from unidentified employers offering you a job.
Avoid responding to emails from employers in which the company name is not given and/or you have not initiated contact.  You should know the opportunity that you are being considered for and with which company.  Some exceptions to this are:

  • Third party recruiters.  Third party recruiters are contracted by companies to do their hiring for them.  When working with third party recruiters, often you are not “in the know” regarding the hiring company name, however, you should check that the third party is reputable by researching and verifying them online.
  • Resume referrals from ECS.  Occasionally you may be contacted by an employer who used our Resume Books feature on CareerEngine.  This means that the employer opted to look at students resumes via CareerEngine and selected criteria to identify candidates for particular positions.  Employers should inform you that this is how they got your resume, but if they don’t, ask them how they obtained your information.  If it was through CareerEngine Resume Books, then it’s likely legitimate.  Still unsure?  Feel free to ask ECS to verify.

Distinguishing information is missing.
If it’s difficult to locate the company name, website, location, etc., proceed with caution.  If a posting is fraudulent, the scammer prefers to reduce visibility which may make locating details tough for you.  Be sure to look closely at websites as well.  Fake websites may be used to collect personal information.  Double-check that the web domain name is spelled like the company name and that it matches a Google search that you do on that company. 

You are being asked for personal information.
You should never provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, your social security number, or other personal financial documents to potential employers.  The only time you may be asked to give information as sensitive as your social security number is when you've already been hired and are filling out tax documents.  Many scammers buy fake job ads with stolen credit card numbers, then ask applicants to send them personal information, which lets them steal more identities and more credit card numbers.

You are being asked for money.
Scammers know that finding a job can be difficult.  If you hear that you’ve got a job waiting if you only (fill in the blank: pay a fee to receive a certification, pay for their expenses to place you within a company, send money for training materials, etc.) then you know it’s a scam.  Bottom line: you should never have to wire money, process payments, or transfer funds to get hired. 

The good news is that most opportunities you encounter are legitimate.  However, as with any job search activity, doing your research is always advised.  If something seems fishy, trust your gut and investigate further by visiting the employer’s website, Googling the company’s name and the word “scam” to see if there’s any cause for concern, or using sites like the Better Business Bureau or Hoovers to verify the organizations.  Still have questions?  Come talk to ECS.  We are here to help. 

"Trust, but verify." 
-Ronald Reagan

About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.