Down But Not Out - How to Stay Safe When Searching for a Job

With Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 18.8% and underemployment at 21.2%, there is no shortage of active individuals desperately looking for jobs. This population sometimes feel frustrated by the lack of job opportunities and therefore become vulnerable. Fraudsters, social media opportunists, kidnappers, ritualists, traffickers, rapists and other evil people know it, so they do not hesitate to take advantage of this vulnerability.

I have seen an increase in online advertisements for fake job vacancies and recruitment opportunities often with very juicy packages including international travels or training, mouthwatering perks and scintillating benefits.

These very tempting opportunities are often shared by trusted people on WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook and other platforms with noble intentions to help others but inadvertently facilitating fraudsters.

Why would anyone create a fake employment vacancy you may ask? Well, the reasons are many ranging from getting more followers on social media, driving online traffic, harvesting personal details of applicants for sale or digital marketing, kidnapping for ransom, abduction for rituals or slavery, trafficking, rape, and so on.

In extreme cases, to fall victim to this evil is to lose the little faith one has left in society and any glimpse of hope for a bright future. Once the damage is done there is no amount of justice that can restore the loss even if the criminals are found and prosecuted so you are better off protecting yourself so you do not fall victim.

Before applying for that vacancy, here are some red flags to watch out for.

  1. Email for submission of applications is a private or personal account. Unless it is a direct recruitment through someone you know, organisations use dedicated official accounts rather than private emails, not even staff official mails.
  2. Job specifications, qualifications and experience where applicable are too broad. This is to ensure wider application and make the opening even more attractive.
  3. Timeframe or deadline for application is either too short, too long or not stated
  4. You are asked to provide very personal details before or during the recruitment
  5. Compensation is disclosed. While some genuine employers may give a pay range, other than casual jobs, most employers do not openly disclose salaries upfront. This is because salaries are usually based on skills, experience and grade level which is best determined after the selection of successful candidates.
  6. Typos and bad grammar - employers are generally mindful of their brand and the negative impact of bad external communications so vacancy announcements go through quality reviews before they are put out.
  7. You are asked to pay (in cash or kind) for forms, tests etc - this is a super red flag and a BIG No. Even if the vacancy is genuine, no real employer will ask you to pay. So it’s just someone trying to deprive you of your stipend.
  8. You are offered a foreign trip as part of the recruitment process or to resume your duties abroad - this is often disguised trafficking. It might be too late before you know it.
  9. The offer looks too good. Well, if it looks too good to be true then it’s probably a trap.

And here are some tips if you are suspicious

  1. Check official website or company social media accounts to see if the vacancies are there
  2. Google the individual’s contact details provided to see if the person is indeed associated with the organisation
  3. Don’t give too much personal details about yourself or your referees when submitting your CV
  4. Ask for a phone number, and check identity on Truecaller. You may be surprised at what you find.
  5. If you are invited for an interview, tell people who are close to you about it, check location and other details for suspicious signs and ask if someone can accompany you. Decline if you feel uncomfortable, it’s better to lose a job opportunity than lose your life
  6. Enquire about the organisation and make weird requests such as rescheduling of interview or ask if they’ll pay for your transport and see if they oblige
  7. Don’t go with anything precious like an expensive phone, jewelries or large sums of cash

I am a firm believer in hard work so by all means don’t stop exploring opportunities because of fear, rather keep hope alive and keep moving but exercise diligence. You may be down but definitely not out!



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