On Feb. 12, an email was sent out to students through the Announcements and Alerts folder through FirstClass, warning students about job scams and how not to be tricked.
Cathy Marquez, the assistant director of employee relations for the Career Center, sent the email announcement, with the intent to warn students and better prepare them for their job searches.
Marquez does not want to scare students away from a great opportunity, but job scams do exist. She recommends applicants research the companies before applying; being informed is the best thing you can do. Marquez also urges students to use the Career Center for help to determine whether you are applying to a genuine employer, emphasizing that the Career Center acts like a line of defense for students.
“I’m only human,” Marquez admitted, suggesting that job scams may still get by her.
Marquez works behind the scenes on CareerLink — UMaine’s online resource for jobs and internships — to provide job opportunities for students. When an employer is looking to hire University of Maine students, they are able to contact Marquez who then goes through a screening process. “I decide whether or not it’s a bona fide employer,” Marquez said.
“We can’t know everything about employers,” Marquez said.
Whether an employer can post a listing onto the UMaine CareerLink is determined by research. Marquez has to take exceptions into consideration, such as a startup company that may not have name recognition or depth to its website.
When Marquez receives job postings from unfamiliar employers, she proceeds cautiously to make sure there are no scams. She makes calls and visits their website — anything to ensure that the posting is real. By taking these steps, she can quickly realize who is a trusted employer, even when dealing with a startup company.
Marquez is familiar with a number of local and national businesses that post jobs on a regular basis — businesses she has a strong-standing relationship with usually don’t give her concern.
However, there are times when even the familiar companies need a bit of investigating. For instance, Marquez came across a job posting from a local and trusted company, but something caught her attention as a possible scam. She noticed that the position was being offered as a Federal Work-Study opportunity, but work study is only offered on campus and to nonprofit organizations. Marquez recognized a red flag, knowing that the employer was not a nonprofit organization, and contacted the employer directly to confirm the job posting, which they quickly denied.
“People should put their resumes out there but be cautious about responding,” Marquez said.
She urges students to check in with staff at the Career Center to double check job postings that may sound too good to be true.
Marquez suggests that students find information more than what is just on the Internet. A few ways to verify an employer is to make calls, ask to meet in person, search for company reviews and find out what other people are saying about the company.
Students can also use search engines to look up the employer’s phone number or email address to check if it matches, if not, that is a red flag.
“Job scamming happens intensively close to graduation because they know students are on the hunt for jobs,” Marquez said.
For this reason, Marquez stresses it is important for students to know what kind of scams to look out for, proceeding with caution.
Marquez recalled certain buzzwords and red flags should be of concern to students:
- The employer asks you to cash an unexpectedly large check. Marquez comments that this is a common scam, and that check will end up bouncing.
- You are asked to call and leave a message with the employer because they are too busy to take your calls. According to Marquez, this could be a way for a job scammer to store your phone number to solicit calls.
- The employer asks you for your identification numbers and bank account information. Marquez comments that this is something done in a Human Resources office after being hired. The only exception is federal jobs where the government will ask for such information to determine your true identity.
- The employer email domain is a Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! and not a company email address. According to Marquez, students should be aware this can be a red flag; however, this company could be a startup, so it is best to research beforehand.
- A company offers you generous pay that seems too good to be true. Marquez suggests it usually is.