By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
With the desperation brought about by increasing unemployment in the country, more people are beginning to fall victims of job scams. And though this trend has been on for quite a while, concerns have risen, as it is taking new dimensions, with the con men and women daily inventing ‘innovative’ strategies to lure their victims. It has gone so far that people now receive invitation for jobs they didn’t apply for or are knowledgeable about. People are inundated with all sorts of ingenious job proposals and invitations that the undiscerning is easily hoodwinked.
Interestingly, experts are of the opinion that there are more jobs available than those seeking them. They, however, caution job seekers to be wary of scammers disguising as potential employers or employment links, by being more alert and inquisitive. A job seeker, they said, should have enough self-confidence and self-worth to avoid falling prey to scammers.
Yemi Oyefolu, Business Manager, Human Resource Services for Workforce group, explained that there are a lot of naïve people out there looking for jobs and when job seekers become desperate, they are susceptible to all kinds of scams. In addition, the current economic recession in the country has heightened the situation, as the Labour market is over saturated with the entrance of a large number of people that have lost their jobs. Consequently, otherwise intelligent people have become vulnerable and are easy targets of scammers, who appear to be thriving because of all these factors.
“However, it should be noted that scammers do not have any job to offer in the first place,” Oyefolu said. “They will only be asking their victims to pay some money in a bid to get non-existing jobs. Companies that genuinely give jobs don’t just place adverts asking people to come for the jobs. There is always a procedure and structure in place to ensure that people are employed. A lot of people are so blinded to notice these faults and they just keep following and getting into the wrong hands, till they realize there’s no job.”
Oyefolu explained that most licensed recruiters have a guideline they adopt from the Ministry of Labour, and there is also the recruiter’s licence every company needs to get, if they will be recruiting staff.
“The ones that have these licences will go by the regulations of the Ministry of Labour, while the job scammers do not have such licence,” he said.
So, how can one go about identifying job scammers?
“If you walk into a company and they tell you they want to recruit you as a staff, the first thing you should do is to go to their website,” Oyefolu explained. “Some companies will not openly come out with their names, because they don’t want people to know they are the ones recruiting, and which is understandable. But when such companies invite you for an interview, you should observe from their procedures that they are a reputable organization.
“As a job seeker, you are expected to ask questions for clarity. You are also not supposed to pay any fee, as it is against the law to do so. Recruitment agencies will not ask you to pay money because they are getting money from their clients. It can only be a scam, if a fee is involved from the job seeker.”
He said most recruitment agencies would not come out to say they are recruiting staff for a particular private company. So, it is only after series of tests and interviews that the job seeker can begin to discern, if it is for a financial institution or any other.
In Oyefolu’s view, the present poor educational standard in the country is mainly responsible for this unsavoury state. He said: “We have all these half-baked graduates with little or no self-esteem or confidence. So, whenever they see a shortcut they jump at it. You find people saying, ‘If you pay me ₦10,000 now, I will get you a job’, even when they know that such agents have no qualification, yet they fall for it. When a job scammer takes even ₦5,000 from 100 people with the same request, then he has made ₦500,000 and that is a lot of money. Some can go as low as ₦1,000 to get more people to sign in, and then they make a lot of money.
“Although there are genuine and decent jobs, but then the way these are handled makes it look suspicious. For instance, you have five job openings, but you send out invitation to thousands, while asking them to pay a certain amount. This means if you don’t pay that money, no matter how qualified you are, you can’t get the job.”
On the way out of the problem, he said, “The Ministry of Labour should further strengthen their regulations. There are some job scams that are syndicates and the Ministry is aware of them. Regulating this sector cannot be achieved by an individual. It is only the Ministry of Labour that can put the required structures in place.
“For a recruitment firm like ours, you spend about ₦200,000 to get the licence and then ₦2m to get an insurance, which covers a fidelity bond that protects staff salaries or entitlements due to them, as well as, ensures that a company does not engage in illegal practices. If a company goes through all that stress to get these licences and follow the law, then it also needs to be protected in a way.
“So, the Ministry of Labour should be responsible for clamping down on unwholesome recruiting processes, because this is bad business for most of us who are in it legally, though at every forum, we see government’s efforts in achieving this, but then it is not enough.”
He is particularly worried by this trend because it is having a backlash on registered recruitment companies like his.
“Such undesirable conducts hinder our work, because when you need people to apply for a position, and you send out job applications, sometimes there are no responses, especially when there are no details about such job. With this, we lose the client and money, which is affecting our business,” he said.