Ask HR: How Can Job Seekers Avoid Recruitment Scams?

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP July 21, 2023

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP

SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today. 

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here.

My husband is currently in search of a job. He has encountered multiple fake job offers and scams. It takes up much of his time and energy to search. What should he look out for to avoid being drawn into another scam? —Yvette

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: I'm sorry your husband, like many others, has fallen victim to recruitment scams. Unfortunately, fake job postings have become increasingly common. But there are ways applicants can weed out bogus career opportunities from legitimate ones.

First and foremost, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It may be a red flag when job postings or recruiters promise unusually high salaries and amazing benefits or flexibility. This is a ruse for defrauders to collect applicants' resumes and contact information to use later.

Also, pay attention to the language in the job posting. The advertisement is probably fake if it uses vague wording, has grammatical errors or doesn't contain company branding or contact information.

Similarly, if a recruiter asks an applicant to share confidential information or pay for something upfront, something nefarious is likely at play. Legitimate recruiters rarely request personal information, such as Social Security numbers or birth dates, before making a formal offer, and they almost never ask applicants to absorb any recruitment costs.

As the adage goes, "Trust, but verify." When in doubt, applicants should do their research. Visit the company's website to verify the opening is listed on its careers page. Also, check LinkedIn or other social media profiles where employers often advertise their job vacancies. Websites such as Glassdoor can also provide a wealth of insight into a given organization and its interview process.

As with most scams, job-related or not, the perpetrators generally operate one way. They ask for your information, resources and even money without ever sharing anything from their side. Don't be afraid to test them. Most scams aren't sophisticated enough to stand up to true scrutiny. Guard your personal information as closely as you do your money; don't be willing to give it up without something tangible in return. The recruiting process should flow both ways. If it doesn't, find out why, and ask probing questions.

With these tips, your husband should be able to avoid these scams in the future and find genuine employment opportunities. Best of luck!

I was laid off as a full-time employee and saw my job posted as a position through a staffing agency. I applied to get my exact job back, which would be through a staffing agency. The hiring company said they could not legally hire me in the same position after being laid off but would hire me in a different position. I have seen no evidence that they can't legally hire me again. Is there a law for this? —Gina

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Layoffs are a grim reality of the post-pandemic world of work, and I applaud you for taking active steps to return to the workforce. The question you pose stands at an interesting intersection between an employer's internal process and the potential application of regulations.

When we think of layoffs, we often think about companies eliminating positions or even departments due to financial reasons. In those scenarios, it might make sense to rehire former employees who were in good standing back into their old jobs. However, in some cases, companies may need to lay off employees to realign the knowledge, skills and abilities that are not present in the current employee or position.

While I can't speak to your exact circumstances, I want to delineate a distinction that determines the legality of bringing back a terminated employee. The big question is whether your company would hire a contractor for the position through a third-party agency or as a direct contractor. As a terminated employee, bringing you back via an agency would be allowable by law. Conversely, rehiring you directly as a contractor would be illegal. 

It is also worth mentioning that currently, there is no statutory requirement to have a position empty for a specific period following a layoff since employment in the U.S. is typically at-will. So, any employer or employee may end the relationship with or without cause. I encourage you to review your layoff paperwork and any relevant company policies your previous employer has related to rehires after involuntary separation for additional guidance and clarity.

Certainly, you may want to explore other opportunities to find an organization that covets your skill set and has what you are looking for in a workplace culture. Either way, stay on the hunt for the best opportunity for your career growth. And I urge you not to be discouraged by this turn of events, as this may open the door to a new and exciting future. I wish you the best of luck in your continued job search!



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