Skip to main content

We’ll leave it to the economists to crunch the employment numbers. We’re just happy to see more Help Wanted signs in the windows of Main Street retailers. That’s good news for Americans affected by pandemic-related layoffs. As companies are getting back to business and returning to an in-person workplace, the FTC has some tips for job seekers.

Investigate job placement services before signing up. There are lots of reputable employment agencies, staffing companies, and other placement firms, but scammers have been known to masquerade as legitimate recruiters. They may claim to have the inside track on dream jobs at hot companies or they may just cut and paste outdated listings from genuine job sites. The usual tip-off is that they insist on money from job seekers up front. Legitimate placement firms don’t typically charge applicants a fee. Instead, the prospective employer pays the firm to find qualified candidates.

View work-at-home offers with suspicion. The recent experience of teleworking has led many people to explore working from home as a permanent option. Con artists know that, too, and try to lure consumers in with bogus work-at-home offers. A sign that you may be dealing with a scammer is if they ask you to shell out money for “starter kits,” “training,” “leads,” etc. Before sinking money into a work-at-home offer, talk it over with someone you trust. Evaluate with skepticism the “success stories” of people recommended by the promoters. They may be in on the scam.

Beware of be-your-own-boss pitches. Has uncertainty in the job market got you considering self-employment? Raise your defenses against bogus business opportunities. They often begin with a “free” online or in-person seminar that dangles the bait of a lavish lifestyle. But learning the promoters’ so-called “secrets” to financial security requires a substantial cash outlay for more courses or coaching. Take it from the people who have lost their savings to a real estate, investment, or money-making promotion: As soon as you hear the upsell, shut it down.

Start your search with reliable resources. Businesses are looking for qualified workers and you’re looking for a good job. See if you can make a match from the listings on reliable free sites. For example, CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and features job listings in the public and private sectors. is the federal government’s official site with job openings nationwide.

The FTC has more tips on spotting a job scam and evaluating business offers.

Next in the Back to Business series: Fostering a resilient workplace


Get Business Blog updates