Job Search Tips

How to spot a fake job posting

Written by Peter Jones

The job market is hard enough to navigate without having to worry about some posting turning out to be a scam—or even just a dead end. Save your precious time and energy by being on the lookout for these simple signs that something just isn’t right.

1. The company has no online presence.

You do your due diligence and try to verify the person, the company, the job listing… and nothing is turning up in your Googling. You can stop right there and step away. Legit jobs always have some online trail.

2. The recruiter’s email doesn’t match their company.

You get an email from a recruiter who claims to represent a fabulous and well-known company. The company logo might even be at the bottom of the email. Look closely—does the email they want you to send materials to not end in the official company name ( If the email associated with the posting or the invitation is a personal one (think Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), maybe take a pass. And please, please don’t respond and attach any personal documents unless you’re sure you’re dealing with the real deal.

3. You found it via a random social media post.

While it is possible to land a great job you found through social media, chances are if it’s just posted there—or sponsored or advertised—it’s probably not as sweet a deal as it seems. Remember that the overwhelming majority of jobs are referral based, come through legitimate channels, or are on vetted job boards. Resist the idea that you can just surf Facebook and get hired.

4. They claim “No experience necessary.”

Sure, maybe the job they’re offering is entry level. Maybe they offer training. But if the posting leads with NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY, you can be almost certain that there’s a catch you won’t like. Most jobs want you to come equipped with some skills.

5. The language is sloppy.

If the ad isn’t well written, or it contains spelling or grammatical errors, or it’s just sloppily punctuated or IN ALL CAPS, consider it a red flag. A real job posting will be professional and polished.

6. They ask for an interview via chat or text.

You should be wary if your first interview scheduled on some kind of text messaging service. While remote interviews are becoming increasingly common, that means phone calls and Skype, not a typed conversation in a chat window.

7. Anything about it is too good to be true.

You’re hired immediately! The salary is CRAZY HIGH! They contacted you out of the blue! No need to interview! When can you start? (Hint: if a job seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.)

8. Everything about it is vague.

If you can’t tell from the posting what exactly your role would be at the company, that’s a problem. A bigger problem is when you can’t really tell what the company does and get a sense of its mission or history. If all of this is very vague… leave this one on the “no” pile.

9. They want money.

If you’re asked to pay anything—such as a fee to apply or for a software program with which to send in your application materials—consider the job a scam. A general rule of thumb: never give your money away to total strangers you meet on the internet.

10. Your gut says no.

The bottom line: keep an eye out for these and other warning signs, but your best alarm system is your own gut feeling. Does something seem off to you? If so, let it go. There are other jobs out there.

About the author

Peter Jones