South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 32.1% in the last quarter of 2023. What this also means is that currently, South Africa has the highest unemployment rate on the continent, and even worse, in the world too as of 2024. Globally, the job market is extremely competitive with many companies looking to cut costs wherever possible based on the tough economic climate. Sadly, one of the biggest cost-cutting mechanisms is reducing overheads by reducing employees, which is what a number of the largest tech firms have done in recent months. The aim is to do more with less, which also often requires employees that are left, to be able to wear multiple hats in order to make up for having less roles filled within a company.

While it’s not all doom and gloom, the current job market and the desperation attached for some job-seekers, has also provided an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of those who are desperate for work. That being said, there are a number of steps prospective employees and workers can take in order to avoid being caught out in a job scam. A number of job scammers pose as recruiters and recruitment agencies and come across very convincingly. However, according to Carte Blanche’s investigations, the first big red flag in the process is if the so-called recruitment agency asks for money in order to assist you, or facilitate and perform any of the following services: registering you on their ‘database’, searching for a job online, setting up and being interviewed by a recruiter, or any kind of training before you have actually been hired. In essence, it is unlawful for a recruiter to charge any form of upfront fees in relation to the recruitment process or job placement.

Below are a few steps that job seekers can take in order to becoming a victim to a job scam. The first is simple – outside of a recruiter asking for payment straight out the gate, it’s important to establish the credibility of the recruitment agency before committing to anything, and especially before sharing any personal details with them. All “legitimate recruitment companies must be registered with the Department of Labour.” A request can be made to see this certification, or cross-verify this directly with the Department of Labour. As with any online interaction – practice caution and do not open or interact with unknown entities and links, especially if they request personal information such as full names, contact details and Identification Document details or copies. The same is applicable to banking details – it is illegal for a recruiter to request this information. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is – there is no such thing as a guaranteed job, a recruiter will never be able to make such guarantees on behalf of their supposed clients. Make sure that you know who you are speaking to – many scammers prefer to hide behind emails, SMS and phone calls, ensure that you take safety precautions too if you do plan on meeting in person. In a very public place with friends and family being aware of your whereabouts is best. Lastly – be extra careful when applying for overseas opportunities – do your homework and only use reputable, registered companies with a verifiable track record.