Looking for work? Don’t get scammed on craigslist.

Posted by on Feb 10, 2010 in Career Advice | 2 comments

I’ve read the statistics on the high unemployment rate, and I am one of those unemployed. About a year ago my previous employer told me that the company wasn’t doing well, and he didn’t know if we’d make it through the end of 2009. As of January 2010, the company is still in business though I am no longer an employee.

In order to love my work-life, I first need to work. Over the past year I have seen significant changes in the job search market. Most of the tips and tricks I learned working at a staffing agency and through job search seminars are ineffective in today’s job market.

A good resource for job leads is craigslist, but lately there are more fake jobs posted than real jobs. Craigslist has recognized the problem and added a scam alert on their main job page. Here’s how you can recognize the scams.

1) Beware of job ads that do not list a company name. Advertisements without a company name could be legitimate, but there is little reason for a reputable company to omit this information.

2) Watch out for job ads that refer to a company that does not have an office in your area. Some scammers realize that job seekers are getting wise and the scammer will use a legitimate company name in the advertisement but a quick Google search reveals the company is located in another state and has no offices or jobs in the area.

3) Beware of replying to anonymous email addresses. Replying to an anonymous email address such as the craigslist “reply to:” email means you’re sending your personal information to an unknown source. You have no idea who might be receiving your personal details such as your name, address, phone number and email.

4) Think twice before replying to a Gmail, Yahoo! or MSN email address. Often scammers will use a fake contact name in the advertisement to make it seem legitimate and ask resumes be emailed to “fakename@gmail.com”. Most legitimate companies have their own business domain.

5) An entry-level position paying $17/hour? I don’t think so. Times are tough for people and businesses. Most companies are hiring at lower salaries, not higher salaries. Real jobs for entry-level or “will train” positions are not going to pay $14+ per hour.

6) Watch out for inconsistencies in the job advertisement. I’ve noticed that scammers often repost what are probably legitimate job postings, but if the title of the advertisement says the position is in Fort Collins, Colorado and the body of the advertisement says the job is in Alpharetta, Georgia, the posting is a fake. If the job title listed is “Executive Secretary” and the body of the posting is “Receptionist”, the posting is a fake. I’ve also seen fake postings listing one hiring salary listed in the body of the advertisement and a different hiring salary in the “Compensation” footer.

If you do reply to a scam job posting, you’ll know it when you receive a response by email asking you to supply additional personal information and/or complete a credit report. Legitimate companies might need this information, but usually this happens after you have met with a company representative in person.

There are many new challenges facing job seekers today. Through research and networking I’ve discovered new methods to apply to my job search. If you’re also looking for work today, good luck to us both!


  1. I wish you had written this before my job search after graduation! Even some postings that appeared to be real ended up being scams. Those are some great tips I will definitely use the next time I am job searching on craigslist.

    • Not too long ago I did a Google search on job scams on craigslist and was surprised to find mostly general information on avoiding these scams. I’ve been hitting the job boards daily and started to recognize patterns. I’m happy to share my observations and research with others and I hope it’s helpful to someone.

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