How to address the escalating challenge of job scams

"HR directors must be proactive in preventing hiring fraud," says JobsAware's chair

How people come to find jobs has fundamentally changed. It has become much more digitalised, increasing accessibility and creating more opportunities. But this has come at a cost. It’s made it easier for fraudsters to scale.

The rise of job scams casts a dark shadow over recruitment efforts, jeopardising both candidates and brand reputations. Despite the likes of the BBC, The Times, and the Daily Mail sounding the alarm far and wide, job scams have almost quadrupled since 2022.

Recent Ofcom data shows that 30% of UK online adults have experienced employment scams or fraud, which ranks above the likes of identity, dating and health.

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These scams aren't just about fraud; they're also linked to wider labour abuses, including modern slavery. It's vital for employers to grasp the seriousness of this issue and take proactive steps to address it.

At JobsAware, we're seeing a surge in reports from both workers and work seekers, implicating various players in the recruitment chain – agencies, jobs boards and umbrella companies – in perpetuating job scams. This underscores the urgent need for collaborative action to weed out fraudulent practices and restore trust in the recruitment process.

Job scams are part of the rising trend of hiring fraud, and HR directors must be proactive in preventing it. They should strengthen verification processes, such as employment history and reference checks, and educate hiring managers and interviewers on the common tactics used in hiring fraud. They can also use the latest technology, such as applicant tracking systems and identity verification software, to detect fraudulent activity.

Read more: Employers urged to step up as crucial modern slavery role still unfilled

Employers should also strive to maintain transparency throughout the recruitment process, providing clear and accurate information about job opportunities, requirements and expectations to applicants. Companies should have clear information readily available on their careers pages about job scams to help protect work seekers.

Other steps include a willingness to collaborate with other employers, industry associations, and law enforcement agencies. This can be done by participating in industry forums, sharing intelligence on emerging fraud trends, and collaborating on initiatives to raise awareness and strengthen defences against fraudulent activities.

Empowering job seekers with knowledge about job scams is crucial. Companies must ensure their jobs boards are compliant with regulations like the Online Safety Act, which aims to create a safe online environment for job seekers. Third-party certification schemes, such as the JobsAware Online Recruitment Scheme, provide tangible evidence of a company's commitment to online safety.

This government-backed, industry-driven certification scheme helps protect job seekers from advertisement scams and fraud. It will also help employer brands and recruitment platforms prove legitimacy and show that, as a business, they will not be associated with fraudulent activity.

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At JobsAware, we offer a wealth of free resources and support to companies and job seekers. Companies can partner with JobsAware for free to signpost the free help and advice to work seekers.

Job scams pose a significant threat to recruitment integrity; I urge employers, agencies, and job boards to take decisive action against this menace. Let's work together to build a recruitment process that is transparent, safe, and inclusive for all.

For more free guidance for employers and HR directors on preventing hiring fraud, read this joint guide from the Better Hiring Institute, the prime minister’s anti-fraud champion, and MPs.

By Keith Rosser, chair of JobsAware