How to spot a fake Canadian job offer

Shelby Thevenot
Published: January 22, 2022

Scammers know job-seekers are in a vulnerable position, and willing to provide their personal information or even money to secure a job in Canada. If you have fallen for a scam, you are not alone.

Online scams have been on the rise since the pandemic started. Stats from Canada's Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) indicate there were more than 68,000 reported cases of fraud in 2021, and that is not including December. The losses totalled up to $231 million, more than double the losses in 2020.

Knowledge is your best defence against scams. Beyond the CAFC website, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a scam tracker that keeps tabs on reported cases of fraud. In this article, we have compiled a list of tips for avoiding fake job offers, and a few more to help you find the real deal.

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How to avoid job offer scams

A general rule of thumb is if you think the job offer is too good to be true, you're probably right.

Here are some of the clues that may indicate you have a fake job offer on your hands:

  • If you didn't apply for it, it's probably not real. Fake job offers are usually unsolicited. They come from companies you didn't apply to, for jobs that you didn't apply for.
  • They may offer a high salary, and have vague requirements that make them seem like anyone could be a good candidate (over age 18, no experience required, etc.) They are designed to pander to your emotions, to make you think the job search is over, and you have found a source of financial security.
  • The sender's email address may be suspicious— or it may not. Legitimate business owners do use free email services like Gmail, but it is more likely that companies will have their own domain names in their email address. Keep in mind though, scammers are able to hijack emails of existing companies and pose as recruiters. If you do suspect you received a fake job offer from a real company—do not reply to the email—but contact someone else at that company to see if they really tried to get ahold of you. If there is no contact information in the sender's email, that could be a red flag.
  • The fake recruiter may ask you to pay money in order to get the job offer. They may give you a cheque to buy supplies with, which turns out to be fake and you are left on the hook for whatever you purchased. You should not have to pay for a legitimate job offer, or do any transaction activities.
  • They ask for personal information, such as your home address and your Social Insurance Number (SIN). You should never give out your SIN unless it is legally required. Employers only need your SIN after you are hired.

Lastly, do a simple search before you agree to anything. Do not click on any links, reply to any messages, or download anything until you are satisfied that you are talking to a legitimate recruiter. You should have been expecting their message if you are. Do a quick background check on the sender and the company they are representing. See if typing the company name along with "scam" turns up any results.

If you do suspect you have received a fake job offer, you can report it to the CAFC and the BBB.

Finding genuine job offers: network and apply

When you receive a real job offer, it is from a company that you know. Either you applied to it, or you were introduced to them through networking.

LinkedIn estimates about 85% of jobs are found through networking. So if you know people in Canada, ask them for leads.

If you are in Canada, you can also search for employment services offered by your municipality, or province. If you are an international student, your university will have resources to help you find jobs.

When you are applying online, try sending your application to the company website directly.

You can also find resources that are specifically for helping newcomers find jobs. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers free settlement and employment services on their website, which can be used whether you are in Canada or abroad. Canada also has a job bank website where Canadian employers can search for local and international talent.

You can also check the provincial websites that are participating in the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) to find designated employers who are seeking foreign workers. Also, communities participating in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) may have opportunities on their municipal webpages.

Make sure when you apply that you have a cover letter and a Canadian-style resume, which usually includes less personal information than what is required in other countries. Tailor your application to the job you are applying for. Read the job description thoroughly. Explain to the hiring manager why you are a good fit and how you can benefit the company. Do a quick background check on the company too, see if it is a good place to work.

Finally, just apply. Employers hire for a number of reasons beyond what is written on the page. Even if you do not think you are qualified, apply anyway.

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