Every single job listing that is posted on CoolWorks is reviewed by a member of our team, and every employer who uses our site pays a fee to advertise their opportunities (our service is always 100% free for job seekers). While we are confident that the ads posted on our site represent legitimate employment opportunities, an unfortunate reality is that the internet can be kind of a crummy place where ill-intentioned individuals are looking to steal peoples' identities, scam them out of money, or just create headaches. Job listings are a common platform for scams and phishing attempts. So wherever you're browsing the internet for job opportunities, here are a few tips to help you avoid potential pitfalls:
- Be careful about providing sensitive information - Many job applications request sensitive, personally identifying information (Social Security Number, current and previous addresses, phone number, previous employers and salary information, etc). Unfortunately, a lot of this is the same information that can be used by identity thieves to apply for credit cards and loans in your name. Because of this, a lot of employers are moving away from requesting sensitive information on the initial application (a trend we encourage) and using encrypted online application services. Unless you have full confidence that you are filling out a secure job application, be cautious about what information you go plugging into any online form. If you have hesitations, it never hurts to call the employer, and have them confirm that they're needing this information and why. A quick conversation could clear up - or confirm - any misgivings about the information you're providing. It could also help bring awareness to the employer that it could be time to reconsider some of the questions that they're asking on their employment application form.
- NEVER send money to a potential employer or staffing service - Believe it or not, this is a somewhat common scam. A job seeker fills out an online application form, and shortly after receives a message from a party claiming to be an employer or a staffing service who requests a deposit to secure a job offer. Legitimate employers do not request money from job seekers to secure an offer or interview. This should be an immediate red flag and you should never give money or sensitive information to a party that contacts you in this way.
- Do some initial homework - Just doing a little research before you fill out any forms or submit an application can help you identify red flags. Perform a basic internet search for the employer. Do they have an established presence and/or a legitimate website? Seek out online reviews of their company, both by employees and by customers (take these with a grain salt - one grumpy customer doesn't indicate a bad business). If you're having a hard time finding any information about an employer, you may want to request more information before proceeding, and you should address your concerns before providing any sensitive information. Always trust your gut.
Protecting your information on the internet today requires a lot of vigilance, following your intuition, and using common sense. If something feels off, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and request more information. As a job seeker and possible future employee, there's nothing wrong with asking to have questions answered and your concerns addressed. If any prospective employer takes issue with your requests for more information, you've probably identified a red flag and can comfortably move on. There's a multitude of great employers and awesome opportunities out there - don't be deterred by the bad actors or give information to any party that's setting off your internal alarm bells. Happy trails and safe searching!
***July 2019 Update - We've received some complaints from job seekers in India reporting that they've been contacted by an organization using the name Cool Works and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org requesting money in exchange for job offers and/or interviews. CoolWorks does not conduct business in India or offer job placements to job seekers in that country, we do not use that email address, and we never request money from any job seeker.
If you receive a similar message, do not respond, do not send money, and do not provide any information. This is a fraudulent scam and we encourage you to not respond to or engage with communications like these. Reporting these solicitations to the authorities, such as India's National Consumer Helpline, may help in seeking a resolution.