Is This Job Posting Real, Fake, or a Scam? How to identify the jobs to apply?

Real, Fake, or Scam Job postings? How to distinguish between them?

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If you are like me, looking for a job can be frustrating. You may spend hours searching for job opportunities on multiple job boards, modifying your resume, and writing cover letters for each of those jobs, only to realize that the job you spent so much time applying to may have been a fake or scam job.

Why should you read this article?
Because it’s packed with facts, actionable advice, and insights from someone who knows the hiring world inside out.

I have been a Talent Acquisition executive responsible for hiring thousands of employees for multiple global companies across various industries over the past 35 years and know what distinguishes the real jobs from others.

My goal with this comprehensive guide is to help you arm you with the knowledge you need to identify real job opportunities and avoid the scams and the fake ones, making your job search less frustrating and more productive.

Ready to dive in? Let’s start by understanding the different types of job postings you’ll encounter.

Scam Jobs

Scam jobs are designed to cheat applicants. Their primary goal is to gather personal information with the intent to sell or commit identity fraud. Sometimes these job posters may also ask for money from you during the hiring process on one pretext or other. They can lure you with high salaries and minimal requirements but usually have tell-tale signs that something isn’t right.

Fake Jobs

Fake jobs are postings where companies have no intention of hiring. These can be more deceptive because they waste your time and energy. Often, these postings exist to gather your resume or to appear as though the company is actively hiring when it isn’t.

Real Jobs

Real jobs are genuine opportunities for candidates where companies are actively looking to hire talent. These postings are typically detailed and professional, providing clear information about the role, responsibilities, and qualifications required.

Job scams can be devastating, leading to financial loss and compromised personal information. Here are some of the key red flags you must watch out for in job descriptions and application processes to spot these scams.

Red Flags in the Job Description

Unrealistic promises: Be careful if you ever get a too-good-to-be-true offer from someone you don’t know or from a company you never applied to. More so, if their email or communication contains phrases like “Get rich quick!”, “Unlimited earning potential”, “No Experience required” or “work from home”. Job postings that are genuine will rarely make such claims without detailed explanations.

Vague job description or responsibilities: A real job posting will clearly outline what is expected from the candidate and how those duties relate to the job title. So if you see one that is too generic and lacks specific details about responsibilities and duties or has spelling and grammar mistakes in the content, it’s a major red flag.

No specific requirements: If the goal is to cheat you, the job poster will not worry about qualifications, skills, and experience of the candidate. So be wary of a posting that states anyone can apply regardless of qualifications. A lot of people who are desperate for entry-level jobs fall prey to this. Do your research before applying.

Red Flags in the Application Process

Getting emails from non-work domains: Be cautious if you get emails from employers who use non-professional free email domains like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. Legitimate companies typically use their own domain (e.g., For instance, a credible job offer should come from an address like, not

Urgency for you to act quickly: Pause if a company is putting pressure on you to do something quickly and creating a false sense of urgency to pressure you into making hasty decisions. Most likely it is a scammer. companies I have worked for or know of will never ask you to send personal information or complete tasks immediately without proper vetting. They will always follow a structured hiring process and never promise immediate hiring without any interview.

Requests for money upfront: A major red flag is any request for money upfront. No real company will ever ask for fees for applications, background checks, or training materials. So if one does, it’s almost certainly a scam.

Asking for a code to be sent: As a part of the application process, if a person from a company sends you a text or email and asks you to send a code back to them, it will certainly be an attempt to steal your personal information and spread malware on your system for a phishing attack.

Request for personal information through unsecured means: During the application process, you may be asked to furnish personal information like date of birth, social security number, etc., for background check purposes. A proper company will however always use a reputed background check vendor to collect that information from you over secured and encrypted emails or systems and never directly. So if one does, beware of the possibility of a scam or fraud.

Interviews over instant messaging system: If your interview is being conducted over instant messaging systems like WhatsApp or Telegram using text where you can’t see the interviewer, it is most likely a scam. Don’t fall for it.

You may also review the Federal Trade Commission’s website for additional information on Job Scams.

What to do if you notice a job scam or get scammed?

  • Report the scam at FTC or at your state’s attorney general consumer resources.
  • File a report immediately with your financial institution like a credit union, bank, credit card company, PayPal, etc., if you paid money to a scammer to see if they can help.

Fake jobs are another problem in the job market, wasting your time and energy. These postings can be misleading and frustrating, often existing only for certain companies or recruiting agencies to collect data, build their database, or give the appearance to the outside world that a company is actively hiring. Here are some key indicators to help you identify fake jobs:


One of the most tell-tale signs of a fake job posting is ghosting. This occurs when there is no follow-up after initial contact or interviews. Real companies will follow through with communication of some sort via email or phone, even if it’s to inform you that you weren’t selected. However, the problem is that ghosting does not always mean the position is fake. Sometimes things change at the company, and recruiters do not communicate with you because of their workload. Always follow up but do not waste too much time if you are still not getting a response.

No Glassdoor or Indeed Profile

If a company doesn’t have a profile on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed, or if they have overwhelmingly negative reviews, it’s a red flag. These platforms provide insights into company culture, employee experiences, and hiring practices. Check out Glassdoor and Indeed to research company reviews. Negative reviews about a long or disorganized hiring process can be particularly telling. In my experience, real companies spend a lot of time creating profiles on these sites so they can create the right impression in the minds of potential candidates they are trying to attract.

No Data on Company’s Online Reputation

Companies today should have an online footprint. Lack of presence or negative reviews are major warning signs.

Little or no online presence or negative reviews: If you can’t find any information about the company online, or if what you find is largely negative, it’s best to steer clear. This includes checking their website, LinkedIn profile, and social media presence. Avoid companies with frequent negative press about hiring practices or high employee turnover. Researching company news articles can also provide valuable insights into their reputation.

Posting Open for a Long Time

While a posting can be open for a long time for genuine reasons, such as when a company is not able to find the right candidate, it can also be a sign that you should not have high hopes of getting a response or moving forward in the process. In a lot of cases, this is either because of rigid standards or this being a “pipeline” posting meant to gather resumes.

Identifying real jobs is crucial to ensuring your job search efforts are directed towards legitimate and rewarding opportunities. Here are several key indicators to help you distinguish real jobs from fake or scam postings.

Research the Company and Employees

Verifying the company’s and employees’ presence online can provide valuable insights.

Use social media to verify the company: A well-maintained LinkedIn profile can indicate a legitimate company. Some companies also have Facebook and Twitter pages.

Engaged employees on LinkedIn: See if employees of the company are actively posting information about themselves, Their colleagues, the company, or events happening in the company and engaging with others.

Hiring manager or recruiter listed: Check if the hiring manager or recruiter is listed on the job posting and verify their presence on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Are they actively promoting the job posting?

Here’s how to research LinkedIn effectively:

Verifying the Company Profile:

Step 1
Go to LinkedIn and type the company name in the search bar.

Step 2
Click on the company’s official LinkedIn page by clicking on “View page”.

Step 3
Check the company’s profile for recent posts, updates, and employee engagement by clicking on “Posts” An active LinkedIn page with regular posts indicates a legitimate company.

Find the Hiring Manager or Recruiter:

Step 1
On the company’s LinkedIn page, go to the “People” tab to see the list of employees.

Step 2
Use the search function within the “People” tab to find employees with titles like “Hiring Manager,” “Recruiter,” or specific to the job role you’re interested in.

Step 3
Check the profiles of the hiring managers or recruiters. Look for their activity, such as posting job opportunities, engaging with candidates, and sharing company updates.

Is Word of Mouth Happening?

Job being promoted outside of the job board: When companies are serious and desperate to hire talent, they would leave no stone unturned to promote the job. Recruiters, hiring managers and other people with large social media network would be posting those jobs on their social media feed as well as share those with their network. So if you see such activity, you can be assured that it is a real job.

Hashtags #hiring or #recruiting: One of the ways to Check if the job posting is being promoted, is searching on Google and other social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter with these or similar hashtags along with the name of the company.

Reviews and Testimonials

Employee reviews on platforms like Glassdoor can provide valuable insights about the company, the posted job and their hiring practices. go to the search box at the top right of the page to search for a company and read through the reviews. Negative reviews, especially about the recruitment process, can be a warning sign.

Clear Application Process

A serious company will have a well-defined application process.

Clear application instructions: There should be a straightforward way to apply for the role, such as an online application form, instructions to email a resume, or contact information for a recruiter. Be wary if there is no obvious way to submit your information.

Structured process: A serious company will outline a clear and structured process in the job posting. If the process is overly complex or you receive only automated responses, it might indicate that the company isn’t fully invested in finding the right candidate.

Application deadline: Look for a clear application deadline. Unrealistic deadlines (too short or none at all) can indicate a lack of urgency. Companies with reasonable deadlines are likely actively reviewing applications.

As a TA leader, I would be asking my recruiters to complete the hiring process within the industry norm. As a result, the recruiters will follow a very structured timeline and communicate the same to the candidates through the job description or subsequent communication.

Understanding Job Postings

Detailed and specific job descriptions are a hallmark of serious job postings.

Detailed job descriptions: A serious job posting is detailed and specific. It clearly outlines the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for the role. Vague or overly generic descriptions can be a red flag, indicating that the company might not be entirely sure about what they’re looking for.

Where is the job posted?: Check if the job is posted on reputable job boards and the company’s career page. a good sign that the vacancy is real is when it is posted on the company’s official website.

Checking the Posting Date

The age of a job posting can be telling.

Posting date: Very long postings (months old) with no updates could be a sign the company isn’t actively recruiting. Consider searching for reposts of the same job to see if it’s a recurring placeholder.

Filter by Recent Postings: Filter your search results by searching for the job and the company name for jobs posted in the past week or month. Recent postings suggest that the company is actively hiring.

Verify Old Postings: If a job was posted several months ago, reach out to verify if it is still active before applying.

Communication from the Company

How a company communicates with you can reveal their seriousness about filling the role.

Prompt and professional responses: Look for clear application instructions and contact information. Companies that respond promptly and professionally, and provide transparency about the hiring timeline, are more likely to be legitimate.

Structured interview process: The recruiter is likely to clearly share with you the process and timeline during the initial screen itself. You will notice that the interview process is well-organized, with multiple rounds involving different team members.

Engagement During Interviews

Assess the level of engagement from interviewers.

Engagement from interviewers: Are the interviewers asking detailed questions about your skills and experiences? Do they seem genuinely interested in your answers?

Feedback and follow-up: Timely and constructive feedback after interviews is a strong indicator of a serious company. They should provide clear next steps and timelines, keeping you informed throughout the process.

Company Culture and Values

A company’s culture and values should align with the job description.

Reflection of company values in the hiring process: What the company says as their values on their website will be reflected in their engagement with the candidate. You will be able to easily tell that this is a company serious about finding quality talent and a cultural fit.

Salary and Benefits Transparency

Transparency about salary and benefits indicates a company serious about filling a role.

Clear salary and benefits: A company serious about filling a role will be upfront about salary ranges and benefits. This transparency not only saves time but also demonstrates that they value their potential employees and are committed to finding a good match. A real company will also be compliant with certain state regulations requiring the salary range to be posted in the job advertisement.

Hopefully, the ideas mentioned above will give you clear insights about whether applying to a certain job is worth your time.

If you want to double-check, here are two other ways to do that:

Reach out to the recruiter: Confirm the job is real before applying by reaching out to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager by sending them a message on LinkedIn/Facebook or via Email.

Check in with your network on LinkedIn: Your professional network can be an invaluable resource for you. Reach out to them via a quick email, text, or LinkedIn message for a confirmation about a job posting from their company and ask them if they would be willing to refer you. You never know, they may also share with you other job opportunities that may not have been advertised yet.

Related: How To Prepare For An Effective Job Search Step By Step

So far you have looked at the differences between the 3 different types of jobs with the goal to identify the real ones. However if you want to be smart in your job search, you may proactively look for companies that are currently hiring so that you can focus your energies in only applying to those.

In the current job market, finding companies that are actively hiring can be challenging. However, there are several effective strategies you can use to identify these opportunities. Below are some practical steps, backed by research and expert advice.

Research LinkedIn for “Who’s Hiring Right Now?”

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job seekers. LinkedIn editors curate a list of companies hiring right now based on news and platform data, making it a reputable source for job seekers.

Trending Conversations: On the LinkedIn homepage, you can find trending conversations under the “Who’s Hiring Right Now?” section. This is regularly updated and provides a snapshot of active hiring trends.

Search Terms: Use specific search terms like “Hiring” “remote,” “urgent,” “I’m hiring,” or “we’re hiring” or a combination of these along with the desired job title to find relevant job postings, by entering those terms in the LinkedIn search box. You can further filter the results by posts, jobs, people, companies, groups etc. to get additional information about who and how to contact.

Research Google for “Who Is Hiring Right Now” or “Companies Hiring”

Simple Google searches can yield valuable information.

Search Queries: Use queries like “companies hiring now” or “Who’s hiring right now?” These searches often lead to curated lists and recent articles providing insights into companies that are still hiring.

Navigating the job market can be daunting, but knowing how to spot real job postings from fake or scam ones can save you time and stress. By understanding the red flags and conducting thorough research, you can focus your efforts on legitimate opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. Always remember to use reputable sources and verify the authenticity of job postings to make your job search more effective and rewarding.

1. How can I verify if a job posting is real?
Research the company on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other reputable sites. Check for detailed job descriptions and verify the recruiter or hiring manager’s presence online.

2. What should I do if I suspect a job posting is a scam?
Do not provide any personal information and report the scam to the FTC or your state’s attorney general. Contact your financial institution if you have already shared sensitive information.

3. Why do companies post fake jobs?
Companies may post fake jobs to collect resumes, build their database, or give the appearance of being actively hiring when they are not.

4. What are the key indicators of a real job posting?
Real job postings have detailed descriptions, clear application processes, professional communication, and are listed on the company’s official website and reputable job boards.

5. How can I find companies that are currently hiring?
Use LinkedIn and Google search with specific terms like “companies hiring now” or check the “Who’s Hiring Right Now?” section on LinkedIn for updated hiring trends.

By following these guidelines and tips, you can make your job search more efficient and find genuine opportunities that align with your career goals. Happy job hunting!

About the author: Kaushik is an accomplished HR and Talent Acquisition executive and a Career Coach with more than 35 years of experience. During his career he has hired thousands of employees for global companies across skills, roles, levels and industries and has helped hundreds to land their dream jobs and careers. He has been a board member at multiple talent organizations across USA and is an accomplished speaker on career related topics. You can reach out to him directly at for job search and career guidance. More information about him can be found at or at

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