Everything You Need to Know About Job Hunting Service Scams

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By: Jurissa Ayala

What is a job hunting service scam — and how does it harm both employers and employees? Job hunting service scams operate like recruitment or staffing agencies, claiming to place job seekers with prospective employers. Occasionally job hunting services may actually be able to arrange interviews and even procure a job for a job hunter, but it will always come at a considerable and unnecessary cost.

Employees: How to Avoid a Job Hunting Service Scam

How do you distinguish a job hunting service from a standard recruitment firm or staffing agency? A job hunting service will usually charge money to forward you job descriptions and will not connect with you to discover your needs as an employee.

Employees should look for the following red flags:

  • A one-time or monthly fee. As a job seeker, you should never have to pay a staffing or recruitment agency; you are their product. Job hunting service scams may offer you a “free trial” but then begin to charge you a “listing fee.” Often they will justify their prices by claiming that this reduces their pool of applicants.
  • Outdated or inapplicable job listings. A job hunting service will send you long lists of jobs that may not suit your experience at all. This is because they don’t have a vested interest in actually finding you a job. In fact, if they are charging you a monthly fee, they want you to remain unemployed for as long as possible.
  • A lack of testing or interviews. Legitimate recruitment firms and staffing agencies will interview you thoroughly to determine your experience and skill levels. There will usually be, at minimum, general typing and computer tests. This shows that a company is invested in your success.

Job hunting scams may actually connect you with real jobs, but they generally will not forward you any resources that you could not find yourself. Many of them simply pull from free classified listings and newspapers in your local area.

Employers: Identifying Job Scouting Scams

Employers face similar problems with job hunting service scams – though they generally display themselves as job scouting or recruitment companies. A job hunting service scam may approach an employer with a list of candidates and explain that they represent these skilled individuals. However, they will usually charge an extremely exorbitant amount of money for the employer to actually hire these individuals. Furthermore, there is generally no contractual agreement that the employee is under; an employer may pay the hiring fee and have their employee quit the next month.

Employers should look for the following red flags:


  • Cold calling regarding open positions. In general, recruitment agencies work with companies who approach them first for their services. Job hunting and scouting scams, on the other hand, will call a company directly and tell them they have candidates available for their open positions.
  • A large upfront fee or fee schedule. While staffing agencies do include charges, they are usually fairly reasonable. Job scouting scams will want a large upfront fee right away, which can be as much as 50% of the employee’s annual salary.
  • Failure to disclose. In a job scouting scam, the operative word is “scam.” The representative will often be unclear about their relationship to the candidate and will often avoid talking about finances until the candidate has already been interviewed.
  • Unacceptable candidates. Some job scouting scams will claim to forward you candidates that are perfect for your positions for either a one-time or monthly fee, rather than already having a specific candidate in mind. In this situation, they may sent you unacceptable or completely inapplicable candidates.

An employer may actually find a legitimate candidate through a job scouting scam, but they will likely find it prohibitively expensive to actually hire them. Once they have been introduced to this employee through the scouting scam, they are then obliged to hire the employee through the scouting agency – which means that if they had found the same talent through more legitimate means, they could have avoided the related fees. This is not entirely unlikely in smaller job markets. Ultimately, it is usually a waste of time and resources to even interview candidates through such a scam.

The above only outlines some of the most popular forms of job hunting and job scouting scam. There are many scams that prey both on employees looking for a new position and employers looking for a new hire. It’s always best for employees and employers alike to remain skeptical, especially when an aggressive sales routine comes into play.