Thursday, March 30, 2017

University students beware: Job scammers are lurking on LinkedIn

There's a bold new initiative among "employers" that promote jobs on LinkedIn. Many are pyramid-scheme multi-level marketers, or those who offer commission-only retail or phone solicitation sales.

There's no crime in that, running a business and attempting to build it and increase profits. What is close to a crime are individuals who make a concerted effort to trick university students under false guises and misrepresented job titles. Some of these employers are becoming predatory, reaching out through targeted calling campaigns to recruit candidates.

Yesterday, we held our annual Communication Department alumni recognition day at Appalachian State. Dr. Janice Pope (event director) made a concerted effort to bring in recent graduates who could impart insights on job search and school-to-work transition experiences. Some of what we heard was beneficial; other remarks were rather startling.

Event speakers told students to get their LinkedIn profiles updated and professional, so that they would show well to potential employers. But another warning was administered, to beware of scammers that are trying to attract new graduates with attractive job titles. One example was a position entitled "Public Relations Specialist - Entry Level." A graduate stated that she made a trip to interview for the position, only to learn it was a commission only position selling communication devices at big box membership club locations.

When students were asked if they were aware of this employer, over half (in a room of approximately 25) raised their hands. They had either applied, interviewed for, or had been contacted regarding similar positions.

Here's the advice that was given, for students who wish to scam-proof their job search efforts: Always call ahead. Many of the scammer jobs will state no phone calls, but if needed, force the call. Be specific, insist on learning about the form of compensation, the products or services involved with the position, and the specific responsibilities. If the potential employer refuses to take a call and disclose information, don't take the interview.

Here at App State, we strive to give students a competitive university education. In this case, it goes beyond the classroom. As instructors and administrators, we need to stay aware and guide our graduates away from those who might attempt to take advantage of our young future leaders.

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