First-time jobseekers beware
Unscrupulous ‘ recruitment agencies’ prey on thousands of people who have finished their studies and are searching for a job
Many matriculants and university graduates are now looking for a job. Armed with enthusiasm and their new qualifications, many of them will be approaching recruitment and staffing organisations to help them find employment in South Africa’s strained job market. However, the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (Apso) warns that not all staffing agencies are as legitimate as they may seem.
While most recruitment agencies have the candidate’s best interest at heart, there are those that prey on people who are unfamiliar with the recruitment process and who may be desperate for a job. This places first-time jobseekers at risk of being scammed.
To help jobseekers select a credible recruitment company, here is some advice:
Jobs won’t just land in your lap
When looking for candidates, recruiters will either post the vacancies on their website or on an online job portal. The position may also appear on the employing company’s website.
You will not receive a job offer out of the blue from a recruiter unless your CV is on their database and you have been interviewed beforehand – either in person or telephonically.
Verify that the recruitment agency exists
You can do this by checking for an official website. If it does not have one, or it does not have contact details, then you should be cautious.
If it does have a website, check if the website is real by examining the URL.
Scammers often use fake URLs to pose as well-recognised companies. On bogus websites, the URL may contain numbers or misspelt words. You should also establish in what country the website is based or hosted in.
In addition to looking at the company’s website, you should do online and offline research about the organisation. For instance, you could check to see if the company’s phone number is listed in the Yellow Pages and assess whether the company is authorised to trade in South Africa by checking the VAT number. Avoid agencies or companies that use free email accounts “Recruitment agencies” that correspond using free accounts such as Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail are likely to be scammers. Genuine job-related emails will be sent from corporate email accounts. Do not pay them any money You should never have to pay a reputable recruitment agency so that you can be listed on their database, to secure a job or for any other reason.
You should also be aware of recruiters who offer to train you for the job in exchange for money.
The law forbids employment agencies from charging candidates to secure employment.
Services provided by legitimate agencies are free of change for jobseekers – they make their money by charging a service fee to client organisations for sourcing and managing their workforce, never the jobseeker.
The fee charged to client organisations also does not come out of the worker’s back pocket.
Never share photos or personal information
Never include a photo of yourself, unless it is an important feature of your industry, such as modelling. What you look like is not relevant to your qualifications for the position.
You also should also not divulge your ID number, home address or salary until you have confirmed the company’s authenticity.
By revealing this information, the scammer could commit identity theft, apply for credit cards and run up enormous bills in your name.
It is imperative that you do not disclose your personal banking details during the recruitment process, unless you have been hired and are making arrangements for your payment and tax deductions.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Job descriptions that state that no specific skills or experience are required should be treated with scepticism.
Those that have “work from home” in the title should also be considered with caution because they are a favourite among fraudsters. Also be aware of very large salary offers. Check the amount being offered against the norm for that particular role and your level of experience by looking at the results of salary surveys. If you are being presented with a salary that is way higher than this figure, you are probably being scammed.
Scammers will often advertise that they can guarantee candidates a job, but all an agency can do is consider you for a potential vacancy, promote you to the client and hopefully secure an interview – during which you can sell yourself.
Familiarise yourself with genuine recruitment agencies within your desired industry
Ask people you know in your preferred field to refer you to recruiters they are familiar with. You could also go to organisations that interest you and find out which recruiting firms they use.
If you have been a victim of employment fraud, ensure that you stop all communication with the “agency” and report the matter to the department of labour.
If you have paid over any money, contact your bank immediately and go to your nearest police station with all the correspondence you have received, together with proof of the payment, and open a criminal case.
To ensure that you deal with an agency that is legally compliant and adheres to a code of ethics and good practice, approach one that is an Apso member. When it comes to your future and your career, it is always better to be safe.
Makhubele is vice-president of the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations, South Africa and Africa’s largest professional body. The federation also belongs to the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ethics Institute
of SA. For more information, visit apso.co.za