Red Flags to Look Out for During Your Job Search

by Staff Reporter

Looking for your first job after graduation can be exciting but also scary, especially if you’re veering into unknown territory. Although there are plenty of incredible employers in South Africa, there are also, unfortunately, scammers out there who may try to trick you with fake job offers. 

To help you stay safe, and ensure that the job offer you’ve received is legitimate, we’ve compiled a list of the most common red flags to look out for during your job search:

Table of Contents

job search

Requests for Financial Information

A major red flag to watch out for is requests for financial information during the hiring process, such as your bank account numbers or credit card details.

Legitimate employers will never ask you to provide personal information until after you have accepted a formal job offer. If a potential employer asks for your financial information upfront, it could be a sign of a scammer attempting to steal your identity and commit fraud. Protect yourself by being cautious and withholding such details until you are confident in the legitimacy of the job opportunity.

Remember, your financial information should only be shared with the company once you have accepted the job offer and it is necessary for payroll purposes. If a hiring manager asks for your financial information before this point, consider it a major red flag and proceed with caution.

Payment Request

When it comes to job scams, one common tactic used by scammers is to request payment upfront. This could be due to a variety of reasons. For example, they might claim that the payment is needed for background checks or recruiter fees. However, it’s important to remember that legitimate employers will cover all costs associated with the hiring process. If you ever come across this red flag during your job search, beware!

Another red flag to watch out for during your job search is money laundering, which is when the scammer sends you a sum of money and asks you to deposit it into another account, allowing you to keep a certain percentage. This is a classic fake check scam, whereby the scammer is seeking to acquire your bank account details.

graduate finding red flags during their job search

Asking for Personal Information

During your job search, it’s crucial to be cautious when asked to provide personal information. Whether it’s your social security number or other personal details, sharing this information too soon could be a red flag for a potential job scam. Legitimate employers may require certain personal information, but typically only after you’ve accepted a job offer.

So, how can you protect yourself from potential job scams?

  • Be wary of any requests for sensitive personal information early in the hiring process. Legitimate employers understand the importance of privacy and will usually wait until later stages of the hiring process to ask for this information.
  • Research the company thoroughly before providing any sensitive information. Look for reviews, check their website and verify their contact information.
  • If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a job offer, contact the company directly using alternative means of communication, such as a valid phone number or HR email address.

Remember, protecting your sensitive personal information is crucial in avoiding job scams during your job search in order to safeguard your identity.

graduate receiving suspicous email during job search

Suspicious Email Addresses

When conducting your job search, it’s important to pay attention to red flags that may indicate a potential job scam. One such red flag to look out for is suspicious email addresses

Legitimate hiring managers typically use their business email addresses, which are associated with the company they represent. However, scammers may try to deceive job seekers by using email addresses that mimic legitimate company names or by using personal email accounts like Gmail.

Suspicious email addresses can be a telltale sign of a job scam, as scammers often use them to create a false sense of legitimacy. To protect yourself, it’s essential to verify the legitimacy of the email address and be cautious if the email does not come from an official company domain. Here are a few tips:

  • Research the legitimate email format of the company, such as “”, and compare it to the email you received.
  • Check the email domain. Legitimate companies typically have official email domains that match their website domain.
  • Look for misspellings or variations in the email address that may indicate an impersonation attempt.
  • Contact the company directly using alternative means of communication, such as a phone number listed on their official website, to verify the authenticity of the email.

Remember, being cautious about suspicious email addresses is crucial in protecting yourself from potential job scams. By verifying the legitimacy of email addresses, you can avoid falling victim to deceptive schemes and find legitimate job opportunities.

The Job Offer is Too Good to Be True

When you search for a job, you may come across postings that promise mind-blowing salaries for minimal work. While it may be tempting to think you’ve hit the jackpot, it’s important to approach these opportunities with scepticism. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers are notorious for preying on job seekers by offering unrealistically lucrative roles. They understand that many people are desperate for high-paying jobs and will be enticed by the promise of quick and easy money. However, these job ads often conceal hidden scams, designed to exploit unsuspecting applicants.

graduate identifying red flags during job search

Red Flags to Spot During Your Job Search

To avoid falling victim to job scams during your job search, it’s crucial to be aware of the red flags that indicate something fishy is going on. Here are some key warning signs to watch out for:


  • Absurdly high salary offers for minimal work or qualifications.
  • Job requirements that seem too easy or don’t align with the position.
  • Guaranteed job offers without an interview or proper screening process.
  • Requests for upfront payments or fees to secure the job.
  • Email addresses or contact details that don’t match the company’s official domain.

While these red flags aren’t definitive proof of a job scam, they should raise a healthy dose of scepticism. It’s essential to conduct thorough research on the company and the position before proceeding.

graduate reading about red flags to look for during job search

How to Protect Yourself From Job Scams

Protecting yourself from job scams is essential in today’s digital landscape. By being aware of the above red flags during your job search, you can avoid falling victim to fraudulent schemes. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself:

  • Be cautious when providing sensitive information: Avoid sharing sensitive information, such as your social security number or financial details, during the early stages of the hiring process. Legitimate employers will typically request this information after a formal job offer has been extended.
  • Use alternative means of contact: If you suspect a job posting or communication may be a scam, do not solely rely on the contact details provided. Instead, research the company independently and use alternative means of contact, such as finding their official phone number or HR email address.
  • Conduct thorough research: Before applying for a job or attending an interview, take the time to research the company extensively. Look for legitimate reviews, check their website for authenticity and verify their presence on reputable job portals or social media platforms.
graduate viewing suspicious job posting during job search

Examples of Fake Job Postings

When searching for a job online, it’s important to be aware of the red flags that may indicate a fake job posting. By recognising these warning signs, you can protect yourself from falling victim to job scams. Here are some common red flags to look out for:

  • Non-existent websites or social media presence: Legitimate companies usually have an online presence, including a website and active social media accounts. If you come across a job posting from a company with no online presence or a website that looks unprofessional, it could be a fake job posting.
  • Job requirements that don’t make sense: Fake job postings often include unrealistic or confusing job requirements. If the job description seems too vague or doesn’t align with the industry standards, it’s wise to be cautious.
  • Offers that seem too good to be true: As we said earlier, fake job postings often promise high salaries or extravagant benefits for minimal work. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Lack of job details: Legitimate job postings provide clear and detailed information about the job responsibilities, qualifications and company. If a job posting lacks essential details or seems generic, it could be a sign of a fake job posting.
  • Grammatical errors in emails: Scammers may send poorly written emails with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Legitimate companies usually maintain a professional standard of communication.

By paying attention to these red flags, you can identify fake job postings and avoid becoming a victim of job scams. Good luck with your job search!

Get Career Guidance with FundiConnect

Now that you know which red flags to look out for during your first job search, be sure to navigate to FundiConnect for all the latest news and updates regarding your career journey. We’ve got everything you need to jumpstart your career:

  • Career Advice: Find all the latest job tips, updates and advice on our Career Guidance page.
  • Career Profiles: Explore our Career Profiles, where you can find all the information you need to know about your specific role. 
  • Career Guidance Assessments: Take our FundiMatch Career Guidance Assessment and make informed decisions about your subject choices and future career prospects.

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