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Candidate Experience recruiting

Warning: Recruiter Scam! Five Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to a Scam and How Good Recruiters Can Help

January 12, 2023

Every week it seems a new scam is in the news. There are millions of ways criminals use the internet to access your data, money, and identity, and reports show that 47% of Americans experienced financial identity theft in 2020

We’ve all had mandatory seminars at work on avoiding viruses and not falling victim to scams spread through our emails and dubious websites. By now, we know not to click a link, give personal information, or open an attachment from anyone we don’t know. But what if the email comes from someone a candidate wants to get to know, like a recruiter? 

Job searches are stressful to begin with, and now candidates have to contend with a new challenge: the recruiter scam. This scam is particularly troubling because the criminals are willing to play the long game. The scammers target job seekers who have posted their resumes to legitimate sites, so the scammer begins the ruse with a great deal of knowledge about their victim. 

The victim often has a sense of urgency and is slightly vulnerable, depending on how badly he or she needs the job. When any of us are desperate or in need, we tend to let down our guard and become agreeable to requests made by those who can help us, in this case, the (fake) recruiter. 

To stay safe, it's important to be aware of the signs that could indicate a scammer. As a member of the recruitment community, you can also help protect against these scams by keeping an eye out for potential red flags. Here are five key warning signs to watch out for when evaluating potential recruiters:

1. Questionable Emails or InMails

Candidates need to read emails from recruiters very carefully. Like with any scam that originates with an email, the email may be poorly written, with misspelled words and incorrect grammar. While a typo can happen occasionally, an email with multiple mistakes is a red flag. 

Additionally, candidates need to scrutinize any email that comes from a free or public account, like Gmail, Yahoo, or HotMail. Most legitimate recruiters will be using a business email, either from the company that has posted the job or from an outside recruiting agency. In any event, job seekers should be able to find the company and assess its legitimacy. 

Unfortunately, as we know, criminals can create fake user profiles or link to legitimate profiles claiming someone else’s identity, a classic “catfish” scheme. If an InMail or email is questionable, the candidate should try to find the recruiter on LinkedIn or other social media and be sure there are no duplicate profiles. Job seekers should politely reach out to the recruiter to confirm the legitimacy of the communication they were sent. Good recruiters will appreciate their caution.

Recruiter Best Practice

You want to ensure your candidate is confident that you are a legitimate recruiter, so always use email best practices with your outreach:

  • Write your email with care and triple-check the content for grammar and spelling mistakes before sending.
  • Avoid including unnecessary links or attachments in the email. 
  • Always send it from your work email. If you are an independent contract recruiter, ask your client to create an email for you on their system. 
  • Include your LinkedIn URL in your signature, and be sure your profile is up to date with your current company or current client listed prominently.

Pro Tip: Download our Email Templates that are the IQTalent Outreach Secret Sauce:

Recruiting Outreach Email Templates that Convert

2. Job Description or Salary Doesn’t Match Your Qualifications

We’d all like to believe we can do anything we put our minds to, but the truth is a recruiter is looking for a specific candidate to fill a precise role. The recruiter has a list of qualifications and experience that they are looking for in a candidate, and these skills align with the job description. 

Warning! Recruiter scams are becoming more and more common. Check out our top five recruiter scam warning signs and how you, as a part of the recruiter community, can help:Click to Tweet

If a recruiter wants to speak with a candidate about a job that doesn’t fit with their experience and skills, their spidey senses should begin to tingle. Further, the salary should not be “too good to be true.” 

Average salaries for the role are available to find on numerous websites. It may be flattering when a recruiter tells someone that they are qualified for numerous positions or that they are worth far more than the market average, but candidates have to be honest with themselves when they know the job or salary aren’t a fit. 

Recruiter Best Practice

Good recruiters follow broad-spectrum candidate sourcing approaches in order to find top candidates with diverse backgrounds. Candidates should know why you are approaching them and how they can be an asset to your company:

  • Include a link to a detailed job description in your outreach.
  • Tell your candidate what makes them a good match for the role.
  • List specific skills and experiences that you are looking for in a candidate.
  • If you do have another role for the candidate that you realize may be a better fit over the course of your conversation, explain what it is about the candidate and their experience that may make the alternate role more attractive to them.

Pro Tip: Download our Guide to Writing Better Job Descriptions

Your Guide To Writing Better Job Descriptions

3. Job Offer Without an In-Person or Virtual Job Interview

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant rise in remote work and professionals starting a job without visiting the company’s office. Moreover, some firms no longer have office space to visit! However, even if the company doesn’t have an office, this doesn’t mean a prospective candidate shouldn’t see their new colleagues, supervisor, or executive team.

Technology allows us to have meetings across the globe where we see each other through our Zoom, Teams, or other video conferencing tools. In almost no case would a candidate interview for a job and only communicate with the recruiter and hiring manager via email or even via email and a phone call. Anyone hiring a serious candidate for a legitimate job will want to meet the candidate in person, even if in-person means through a virtual/video interview. 

Recruiter Best Practice 

Establishing expectations for candidates in the interview and hiring process is essential for a successful recruitment process. Knowing exactly what to expect from the hiring process can help boost candidate experience, providing them with greater clarity on what lies ahead. Setting clear expectations helps ensure that all candidates are on the same page, which can ultimately save time and resources for everyone involved.

  • After an initial phone screen, if your candidate is interested in moving forward, lay out the next steps with an accurate timeline.
  • Send a list of with whom the candidate will interview with the interviewee’s job title.
  • Be available for any questions your candidate may have throughout the process.
As recruiting scams become more common, candidates should feel empowered to end the interview process immediately if a (fake) recruiter asks for things like money, passports, SSNs, or bank account information. Learn more in our blog:Click to Tweet

4. Limited Details about the Role

A recruiter should be able to answer almost all of a candidate’s questions about the role or the company. If the recruiter does not know an answer, they should honestly say that they do not know, name the person or position who has the information, and give a specific timeline to get the answer. 

From time to time, a search may be confidential, and if a third-party search firm conducts it, the recruiter may only have the basic information to screen candidates. However, even in this case, a recruiter should not be evasive or hesitant. If the recruiter sounds like they are lying or making up information as they go along that just doesn’t add up, it’s a red flag!

Recruiter Best Practice

Top candidates are going to have questions. It is your job to be an expert on the company and the role. Be prepared when candidates ask tough questions.

  • Do your research! Ask the hiring manager and the department head all the questions you think a candidate might have.
  • If you are working for a third-party search firm, research your client extensively. You are that company’s agent, and they should feel confident that you are representing them in the same way a full-time employee of their firm would.
  • Follow up. If you don’t have an answer, say so. Don’t pretend. And tell your candidate when they can expect an answer from you. If your company’s policy is to give limited information until the candidate books time to speak with you, then explain that policy. In the meantime, link them to a company website or to a posted job description, if possible.

5. Personal Data or Money is Requested

Candidates should never be asked for money, social security numbers, copies of a passport, bank accounts, or other personal information in an interview process. If a recruiter asks for anything like this, candidates should feel empowered to end the interview process immediately. In some cases, scammers have been known to request someone’s phone or laptop in order to conduct updates or add an app. 

Candidates should never send a recruiter any personal device or document through the mail. If a recruiter sends a link or an attached document in an email, job seekers would be wise to check the link’s domain and run security software for viruses before they open any attached document.

With some roles, international travel may be required. A recruiter may ask if a candidate has a passport. This is reasonable, but they do not need to see it. Likewise, job seekers may be asked if they are United States citizens or if they need a work visa. This is also a reasonable question, but no official documents should be shared until after an offer letter is signed and the onboarding has begun.

Recruiter Best Practice

It goes without saying: get to know your candidate, but don’t be “creepy!” You want the candidate to trust you, so it’s important to ask the right questions. But be sure to keep it professional.

  • Never ask to see any personal information or documentation
  • When discussing sensitive topics like salary, be very professional.
  • While you may have learned a lot about the candidate from their LinkedIn or other social media profiles, don’t divulge too much, like asking how their “trip to the beach” was last weekend. 
  • Give your candidates plenty of details, like names, websites, roles, etc., that are easily searchable for the candidate.

The Recruiter Scam is particularly worrisome because these scammers are willing to invest time in their victims. The very nature of an interview process is to get to know one another through multiple conversations where personal and professional information is shared. 

IQTalent will never ask for money, bank account information, social security numbers, or personal documents during an interview process. Beware of impersonators!

If you know candidates who have fallen victim to a recruiter scam or identity theft, have them contact the company the recruiter is representing immediately. If they’ve given any information to a recruiter that they now believe may be a criminal, contact the police and report identity theft. It may be necessary to close bank accounts and credit cards. 

Job seekers: stay vigilant and keep your guard up. Good recruiters will understand that you want to verify the job opportunity, and they will respect you for it. 

Work with a firm that values your reputation and your candidates’ security. Learn more by scheduling a call with our team of experts today!

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