Beware of Opportunists Taking Advantage of Job Seekers

This blog post is copyright Pathfinder Writing and Career Services LLC
Recently, a colleague passed along another new job seeker Web site… so what’s new, right?

Well, the site forwarded to me appeared to cater specifically to good-looking people, claiming that people who have good looks tend to do better in job interviews and get jobs more often.

Oh dear. Is anyone REALLY going to buy that load of baloney???

I certainly hope not.

Most legitimate human resource people would steer completely clear of this high-risk recruiting approach. There’s just too much potential for lawsuits these days… Exactly how does one define good-looking, anyway?

Oftentimes, these appealing ego-centric sites are actually veiled attempts to get you to part with your money or just to drive publicity to their service, rather than actually focusing on the business of helping out the job seekers.

Yes, there ARE many helpful career sites out there… and then there are just as many that exploit job seeker insecurities, false assumptions, egos, idealistic career aspirations, and anything else that might sound completely APPEALING to get people flocking in to sign up.

In my mind, this makes the entire career service industry look bad, because most of the genuine professionals I know really are there to try and help out their clients, and are invested in their success. Sure, we do make a living, but not to the disadvantage of the customer. It’s definitely not a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” kind of relationship – we are personally invested in the long haul of a client’s career success so they are happy, and then refer people back to us…. That’s how reputable businesses grow.

But not these exploitative websites and resources. They want your money and will do almost anything to get it.

Love ‘em and leave ‘em indeed.

Without naming names of these purveyors, my suggestion to job seekers is to do your due diligence, and don’t fall into any traps that sound too good to be true… usually, they ARE too good to be true.

Unfortunately, in today’s competitive job market place and corresponding diminutive list of actual openings, some job seekers throw themselves at these ‘opportunities’ like a floating castaway throws themselves onto a lush tropical beach. It may look good from the distance, but you’ll likely find yourself completely marooned with no support coming to rescue you.

If you find yourself in the throes of a desperate job search, remain vigilant. Don’t be so frantic that you forget to protect yourself from exposure to harmful risk. There are plenty of bad people out there who are preying on your desperation, and hoping that you’ll slip.

A perfect recent example of this kind of nefarious exploitation of job seekers happened here in Portland, Oregon. Back in December 2009, a job advertisement appeared on the local edition of Craigslist for ‘American Airlines.’ American Airlines had nothing to do with the ad; this was purely a(n) evil person(s) acting on their own, using the desperation of job seekers to their advantage.

Hopeful applicants responded to the ads with their career credentials then were contacted for an ‘interview.’
While the person was out trying to find the interview location, the scam artist behind the ‘ad’ took the applicant’s personal information, and used the opportunity of the person being gone to rob their residence.

[For an account of the scam, here’s the link to the article on online version of The Oregonian newspaper:]

You should always be cautious when disclosing your personal information. Many of the job boards out there let applicants post their résumé online. But you should know that there aren’t a whole lot of security protocols in place that can qualify who exactly is or isn’t an employer, which means that some undesirable folks might be peeping at your résumé.

Think about it. A person ‘creates’ a company, poses as an employer, pays the fee to access the job board as an employer, then can leisurely troll applicant information that has everything… your name, address, work history, educational background… the only thing missing is a social security number… and eventually, you’ll leave the house, right?

Oh dear is right.

These tips are not meant to frighten you, but to instead, think first, act second.  Does the job ad that you are responding to provide any identifying information on the company advertising it? Proceed with caution. Get a return response asking for more information, but you still don’t know which company you are dealing with yet? Red flag.  Getting posts inviting you to a new site advertising jobs only for high-paying positions? Or appealing to something that just sounds so incredibly fabulous?  Turn on your radar and check them out.  See if they want something out of you first before you get the help you want / need.

Keeping some risk management strategies in place will help you keep your job search on track while also protecting your wallet and your identity.