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6 safety tips for online job seekers
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If you're still in doubt, reply without sending a resume. Ask the employer or human resources manager for whatever piece of information would satisfy your concerns, such as a reply e-mail from a corporate e-mail address, suggests Rothberg. Or, you could call the company and ask to speak with the person who sent you the e-mail. They should be happy to start a conversation with you if they're trying to fill a job opening, says Steven Branigan, president of CyanLine, an Internet security consulting firm, and author of "High-Tech Crimes Revealed."

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2. Find a job board you trust.
A privacy policy doesn't guarantee privacy. If they're willing to con you, they're probably willing to post a phony privacy policy. "Fake eBay sites have privacy policies," says Branigan. For better security, he suggests sticking with job boards you've heard of, such as Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, Dice.com or Hotjobs.com -- not only because they are better known but because they will have the most connections. When it comes to getting that all-important job interview, "it's all about connections," says Branigan.

For more security comfort, find out how hard it is to create a job posting on that job board, says Branigan. Click through the employer links rather than the job seeker links to see what they are asking employers. Generally, the more trustworthy sites will charge employers a fee to look at resumes, says Margot Carmichael Lester, author of "The Real Life Guide to Starting Your Career" and monthly contributor to Monster.com.

Besides controlling who looks at your resume, trustworthy sites should let you control how much of your resume remains private, says Lester. If they don't let you mask your resume, don't post your resume on their site.

Once you find a job board you trust, carefully read the employment listings before you reply to them with an application.

3. Sniff ads for a phishiness
Learn to spot a suspicious ad. Misspelled words in a job ad are a tip-off to rip-offs. "There seems to be some rule among scammers that there must be at least one misspelled word," says Branigan.

Also, verify that the Web site's link in the ad goes to the domain advertised in the message. Just because the link reads "BestJobInTheWorld.com" doesn't mean the link will actually take you to a site by that name. If they don't match, watch out. Another sign of danger is when the job description sounds too good to be true or doesn't make sense.

International job opportunities can be suspect, says Merrill. Traveling might sound ideal, but not if the company makes you pay for the flight or fraudulently sucks money from you somehow. See if the company really exists first by conducting a Web search.

"Blind ads" -- advertisements that omit a company's name -- shouldn't necessarily raise an eyebrow, but the business should still describe itself and the open position well. If the ad lacks enough information for you to figure out what the job entails, it's probably a scam, says Lester.

All the experts generally agreed on one characteristic: If the ad mentions any upfront fees, it's most likely a scam. The employer pays, not the other way around.

4. Apply to a handful of employers.
Be selective when answering job ads. "The problem comes in when candidates apply to as many jobs as they can. Nobody has the time to verify hundreds of employers," Rothberg says. Sticking with a few companies you trust allows you to track who has your resume -- and who can claim to have seen it in an e-mail.

 
 
Next: "You can control what the public gets to know about you."
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