Taryn Heathcote from recruitment and staffing company Express Employment Professionals, said that there are a couple of scams on the market which include fax to email scams, interview or training payment scams and work-from-home opportunities, to mention but a few. She advised job seekers to investigate the advertised position and the potential employer.

“Bear in mind that many companies do use the 086 fax numbers legitimately and professionally for business, so trust your gut and employ your investigative skills before you make a judgment call. “Fax to e-mail services are used by these scammers and the fax number is set up to incur charges beyond standard rates, so the job seeker gets overcharged on their phone bill and the “recruiter” earns revenue for every page that gets faxed through for the fake position,” explained Heathcote.

To avoid being a victim of this scam, she said it is important to verify if the company’s contact details actually exist, and to check for the VAT number. “Make sure that fax is not the only way to communicate with them. Insist on e-mailing your CV and if they still insist that you should fax your CV, they’re probably not legit,” said Heathcote.

Another employment scam involves job seekers paying for training or registration before a job interview. Heathcote said that one should not pay a recruiter to get employed or to be interviewed for that matter. “Legitimate recruiters will not ask you a fee to get registered on their database, because they are getting paid by companies to recruit staff for them,” she said.

She also advised job seekers to guard against illegal work-from-home opportunities which include typing work, addressing envelopes of any kind, addressing labels of any kind, filling of envelopes of any kind, administrative opportunities, compiling data and direct sellers of consumer goods that do not honestly identify themselves, the firm and their product offering in their advertisements.

She said that since 2011, 99% of work-from-home opportunities have been outlawed by the South African government. “Being involved in an illegal work-from-home opportunity is a criminal offence and is punishable by a fine not exceeding R200 000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both a fine and imprisonment,” warned Heathcote.

Job scams are also linked to identity theft. “Some people in these job advertisements ask for photos along with your CV. Be vigilant. Don’t send any photos via the internet and certainly don’t provide any other details such as your ID or your home address. This can lead to identity theft and fraud which is a huge threat. “Watch out for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes in job ads. It not only indicates a lack of professionalism, but also betrays a scam artist’s potential lack of education,” said Heathcote.

Dealing with unemployed graduates

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) graduate Slindile Bhengu is one of many graduates in South Africa who are unemployed. After finishing her studies at one of the high schools in the Mkhambathini area, she enrolled for a teaching diploma. She matriculated in 2000.

“At high school we never received career guidance and we were never exposed to a variety of careers. By the time we matriculated, we never really knew what we wanted to study at a tertiary level. In 2001 and 2002, I enrolled for a teaching diploma at one of the teaching colleges. I was always discouraged by a lot of people who told me that the teaching profession was fading and that by the time I finished my diploma, I would not get employment,” said Bhengu.

Without any proper guidance, Bhengu dropped out of college and changed to what she viewed as a ‘sophisticated course’. “I studied psychology but due to financial restrictions, I dropped out. I received credit for the modules I had passed and in 2004, I managed to obtain a human resources diploma from UKZN,” said Bhengu. Bhengu spent most of her time applying for internships but she never received any feedback. “I was unemployed until I passed the age limit for internships,” said Bhengu. She only got employed seven years ago by a retail company as a cashier. “I have given up looking for another job. Maybe it was just not meant to be. Maybe I need to focus on the job I have and make it work for me,” said Bhengu. Bhengu is not alone. It has been reported that last year, the number of discouraged job seekers increased by more than 200 000.

The South African unemployment rate decreased to 25,40% in the third quarter of last year from 25,50% in the second quarter of 2014. In order to help job seekers increase their chances of getting employment, Heathcote shared a few tips on how one can be successful in this field.

Finding employment tips from Heathcote

  • Never get despondent or lose hope.
  • Always remain positive. When one door closes, another open does open.
  • If you are unsuccessful at an interview use it as experience and carry on going.
  • Keep yourself up to date with industry information.
  • Always work hard to evolve and improve your CV
  • Network, network, network.
  • Always attend job fairs and free seminars.
  • Register with recruitment agencies local to the area in which you want to work. Stay in touch with them and call upon your recruiter regularly.
  • Find a recruitment agency that can assist you with regards to writing a CV
  • Go forth and be fearless in your attempts to gain work experience.
  • Volunteer wherever you can and start from an early age.

When looking for employment Heathcote said that it is important to maintain a professional image on social networks as drunken shooter photographs will not go down well with the future employer. “Social media is all part of your personal branding and self marketing and recruiters and employers alike do research your profiles. Think positively and focus these vibes into your profiles. Check your privacy settings ensure that your photos are not public and are set to friends.

“If you have work colleagues as friends, always be conscious of what you post as things can be used to work against you. Obviously, we all have a social life which is healthy and part of our balance, but always think before you post,” said Heathcote.

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