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Beware bogus online job adverts

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With an unemployment rate of just over 25%, unscrupulous criminals are quick to take advantage of desperate job seekers by placing fake job adverts, demanding fees for job placement or contacting them with fake offers via social media.

Women have also found themselves subject to harassment by men who pose as employers and demand illicit photographs in order to secure (fake) jobs. Fortunately it is possible to protect yourself against bogus advertisers, by following simple safety guidelines.

“A lot of these adverts seem entirely legitimate, which is why it’s important to do a quick check before providing your details,” says Claire Cobbledick, head of Marketing for Gumtree SA. Cobbledick says a first port of call is to Google the company. “If the company does not reveal their name in the advert (as many don’t), send a very polite e-mail requesting further details about the position and the business, stating that you are interested and would like to know a bit more. Make sure that the address and phone numbers exist – a quick view on Google maps will confirm.”

A good rule of thumb is to use online job hunting resources to determine what you should expect from the job hunting process. “The more educated you are about the process, the more adept you will be at spotting when something isn’t as it’s supposed to be.”

Cobbledick also says that job seekers should not divulge too much information. “Provide a phone number and your e-mail, but do not provide information that’s not necessary. Advertisers that ask for information such as a copy of your ID, your banking details, your credit card number and other personal details without so much as an interview are dubious.”

Sending your CV off as quickly as possible to as many advertisers as possible is not advisable. “It’s important to read each advert carefully and to respond to each one individually if you want to make a good impression. It’s good to demonstrate knowledge of the company and an understanding of what the advertiser is requesting in your responses.”

Cobbledick says women should be wary of advertisers asking for photographs to accompany their applications – particularly over WhatsApp and other social media sites. “Even if the job is based on physical appearance – like professional modelling – a professional would require a portfolio and a face-to-face. I’d be wary of advertisers looking for administrative assistants or a receptionist that insists on photos.”

Another trick that would-be job scammers employ is to offer jobs on the condition that the applicants pay for “training materials”. “They should be paying you – if it’s the other way around, warning bells should go off.” Cobbledick says that job seekers who do come across unscrupulous advertisers on their site should immediately report it to Gumtree. “It helps us to remove the adverts and block the advertiser much faster.”

Finally, Cobbledick says that job seekers should trust their instincts. “Don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe. If your gut tells you that something is wrong, don’t proceed. You are under no obligation to respond to messages,” she states. “There are thousands of legitimate job opportunities and adverts to choose from. It’s tough, but wait for the right one to come along.”