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How to Protect Yourself During an Online Job Search

Searching for a job online is convenient. Unfortunately, it is also an opportunity for you to encounter fraudulent postings that can waste your time, cost you money, endanger your identity and/or put you legally at risk. Follow these tips to protect yourself when searching for a job online.

Do's and Don'ts of a Safe Job Search:

  • Don’t put your home address on a resume. You may include your city and state.
  • Set up a separate email account just for job searches. That way if you do click on an infected link or are in contact with a scammer, they cannot start spamming your address book and won't spam your regular email account.
  • Generic email addresses. Most companies will have their own domain address. Be wary of those that use Yahoo or Gmail, especially if seemingly connected to a well-known company. If you are contacted by someone with one of these generic addresses, proceed with caution.
  • Email addresses with misspelled names. Genuine companies will not misspell their own names anywhere in their communications. Read all parts of postings and emails carefully.
  • Being offered a different job than the one you applied for. Fraudulent postings will offer one job title and then offer you a different one with other tasks and duties. Be especially aware of jobs to work from home as a “Personal Assistant.”
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be aware of commission-only positions, especially any that ask you to “invest” first.  Confirm a physical location for the business, even if you can work from home.
  • No in-person interview. Genuine employers will want to meet you in person.
  • Never pay anything to be hired. Charging fees is a violation of Sierra College and Sierra Job Link’s rules, and this practice is often a type of scam. Background checks, recruiter placement fees, training fees, and/or interview reservations are not considered reasonable fees or costs for you to pay. Any reasonable costs (uniform, etc.) will be taken out of your paycheck.
  • Do not perform any financial transaction on behalf of a potential employer. Regardless of the story or reason (they usually sound convincing) avoid cashing checks, money orders or transfers sent to you in order to make purchases on someone’s behalf, especially transactions involving Western Union, MoneyGram or BitCoin. Even if it is not your own money, you may be left liable and legally at risk. Don’t accept money upfront for work you have not yet performed. It is likely a counterfeit check or money order, which puts you at risk of performing bank fraud.
  • Don’t ship/re-ship packages. There is no legitimate scenario where an employer would require you to re-ship packages from your home, sometimes called “merchandising manager” or “package processing assistant.”
  • Always report suspicious communications to Sierra College. If you are contacted by someone you suspect of fraudulent intentions or suspicious business practices, please contact Career Connections immediately.
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