4 ways to spot a fake job posting on LinkedIn

5/20/2024
 

Over 61 million people use LinkedIn to find new jobs each week, according to the platform's internal data. But even one of the most reputable job search platforms isn't safe from scams — and it's up to job seekers to learn how to apply with caution.

In 2022, LinkedIn blocked 16.4 million accounts they suspected of being scammers, and restricted an additional 5.4 million as a proactive measure before they had even been reported by users. Another 190,000 accounts were wiped from the site after LinkedIn users officially flagged them.

To job search safely, applicants will need to learn to decipher what's real and what could potentially be a scam. That requires becoming familiar with a few common red flags.

"Exercising caution and verifying job postings are essential steps in finding legitimate employment opportunities in today's digital landscape," Trevor Cooke, a privacy expert with tech insights platform Earthweb, said in a release. "By staying informed and taking proactive measures, job seekers can navigate the job market safely and avoid falling victim to these insidious scams."

A successful job scam can cost an applicant up to $8,700 in fees gathered from fake applications, training courses or screenings that falsely guarantee employment, according to research conducted by tech services company Surfshark. Victims lost a record high of $277 million on fake job offers in 2023 — a threefold increase compared to 2019.

From unrealistic job descriptions to suspicious company profiles, Cooke emphasizes the importance of exercising extreme caution when engaging with job posts, especially on platforms where they've previously felt safe. He suggested strategies like conducting thorough research and cross-referencing job postings to maintain online safety. Here's what to be on the lookout for:

 

Unrealistic job descriptions

Example: A job posting for an entry-level position that offers an unusually high salary and extravagant perks without requiring any relevant experience.

Why it's fake: "One of the first indicators of a fake job offer is an overly vague or unrealistic job description," Cooke said. "Scammers often use generic language or promise unrealistic perks to lure in candidates. Be wary of job postings that guarantee high salaries or rapid career advancement with minimal qualifications."

 

Unprofessional communication

Example: An email from a supposed hiring manager that contains numerous spelling errors and lacks coherent sentences.

Why it's fake: "Legitimate employers maintain professional communication throughout the hiring process," Cooke said. "If you receive poorly written emails full of grammatical errors or vague responses to your inquiries, it could be a red flag. Authentic employers will communicate clearly and professionally, providing detailed information about the job role and company."

 

Immediate requests for personal information

Example: Any job application form that asks for bank account information and passport details before an interview.

Why it's fake: "Beware of job offers that request sensitive personal information upfront, such as your Social Security number, bank account details, or copies of your identification documents," Cooke warned. "Legitimate employers typically request this information later in the hiring process, after establishing trust and providing a formal job offer."

 

Suspicious company profiles

A company profile on LinkedIn that has few connections, no recent activity, and no reviews or endorsements from employees.

Why it's fake: "Check for inconsistencies in the company's profile, such as missing contact information, sparse employee profiles, or a lack of online presence," Cooke advised. "Scammers may create fake company profiles to deceive job seekers."

 
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