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Protecting Yourself in the Job Process

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It's important to take precautions when networking with individuals, including friends of friends and alumni, as well as conducting interviews with employers and alumni.

These are general tips but each situation is unique; the main thing to remember is to trust your instincts and if you feel uncomfortable, either express this or find an excuse to leave. Never feel obligated to reciprocate for the networking help you have received - this is a professional contact, not quid pro quo. It's never appropriate for your networking contact to exact a personal or social obligation from you.

When meeting someone, please remember to:

  • Choose the time and place of your meeting wisely. Insist on a public place like a café or Starbucks at a decent hour during which lots of people will be around. If networking, meeting at the individual's workplace is preferred (unless that workplace is their home).
  • Do not conduct meetings in another individual's home or in a hotel room. In some cases employers do rent hotel space to conduct interviews but if that is the case tell them you are more comfortable meeting in the hotel lobby or conference room. Do not invite strangers into your home or dorm room.
  • Use your own transportation. Never agree to be picked up at your home or on campus. It's never a good idea to get into a stranger's personal vehicle. If meeting in person is challenging, suggest a phone call or Skype.
  • If you need a neutral meeting space, Career Services has interview rooms you can use - simply drop by Parrish 135 to schedule a room for your interview.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you're going, who you're meeting with and when. Plan to call or text them following the meeting to let them know how it went.
  • Consider having a friend accompany you if possible.
  • Take your fully-charged cell phone with you with easily accessible emergency numbers.
  • If your networking contact attempts to make physical contact with you, simply shake their hand. Although they may be friendly, they should keep their contact professional, which does not involve more than a handshake. 
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, make an excuse to leave immediately.

    Sharing personal information:

    We strongly encourage you to be cautious when sharing personal information that could reveal your identity. Use your general college mailing address on your resume and do not provide anyone with your actual dorm location.

    Research the person you're meeting with, even if it is a Swarthmore alumnus/a. Try to verify that the person is who he/she claims to be. Remember that his/her LinkedIn profile is self-generated and may not be entirely accurate. Google him/her prior to your meeting and be alert for anything that looks unusual - does their organization seem legitimate? Do they have a website? Is there any public information available about the quality of the opportunities they are providing? Connecting with a person on LinkedIn can be a professional way to stay in touch with a networking contact.

    If you have questions about safety in your job search or want to talk with a counselor about networking professionally, please contact Career Services or drop by Parrish 135.  

     

    Fee-Based Program & Positions

    You may come across positions or programs that require a fee for participation, placement or application.  Before paying, please be sure to do thorough research on the legitimacy of the program or position. Whenever possible, ask for references (ideally other Swatties past or present) that have done the program so you can talk with them about the program and its benefits. Also, consider making an appointment with a career counselor to discuss other options.

     

    Fraudulent Job Postings

    Unfortunately, not every job posting is an opportunity. Scammers know that job offers are a powerful tool for harvesting personal information, so you need to know how to distinguish legitimate job postings from scam attempts.

    If you ever have any questions about the legitimacy of a posting or an employer, please do not hesitate to contact Career Services.

    Basic Tips

    • Swarthmore College Career Services acts only as an intermediary between employers posting job opportunities and candidates searching for job opportunities. We do not verify the authenticity or legitimacy of the jobs or internships that are posted. The ultimate responsibility for researching a potential employer lies with the applicant. We have no control over the quality, safety, or legality of the jobs or resumes posted, the truth or accuracy of the listings, the ability of employers to offer job opportunities to candidates, or the ability of candidates to fill job openings. Career Services does what it can to verify the accuracy of each posting posted in our Handshake/UCAN/engIN databases. However, please understand that UCAN and engIN are shared databases among several different schools. Therefore, it is impossible for Swarthmore to verify that all postings are valid. Hence, if anything sounds strange, then please let Career Services know

    • When in doubt, get the job opening directly from the company's official website. Much like phishing email, scam job postings often capitalize on well-known companies' names and images. Type the company's name into Google (don't follow links from the suspicious posting, which could take you to a cosmetically similar page) and checking the employment page to be sure the opening is real. Calling the company in question (again, using publicly available contact information) is another good strategy.
    • Don't provide financial information or your Social Security number! Legitimate employers won't ask for your bank account details or your SSN, and this information can be put to nefarious purposes.
    • If you're posting your resume online where it can be accessed by anyone, leave out personal information like specific details about past employers and your date of birth. 
    • If a job sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

    Red Flags

    • NEVER accept cash or checks from an employer unless you know exactly why they are doing so--especially before becoming an actual employee. Legitimate employers have their own business banking accounts, so there shouldn't be any reason for them to ask you to deposit funds on their behalf.  

    • NEVER share personal information such as mailing addresses, social security numbers, email addresses. Legitimate employers will know your mailing and email addresses (on your resume or in the application).

    • If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. 

    • The same warning signs that signal fraudulent emails and websites -- bad grammar and spelling, requests for personal information, and difficulty contacting or identifying the poster -- are all clear signs of trouble.
    • You are contacted by phone, and the number is not available
    • Vague descriptions that focus on money rather than the job
    • Email domain (that's the @xyzcorp.com part of the address) that doesn't match the company's official website's domain
    • Email domain of a free provider is used (real companies almost always have their own email systems): live.com, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, etc.
    • Website that has information only on the job you're applying for, rather than about the company in general
    • Request for an initial investment 
    • Request for bank account access

    What if I'm already involved in a scam?

    • Immediately contact the local police.
    • Get in touch with your bank or credit card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately. 
    • If the scam happened online, file a report with the FTC's cybercrime division

    More resources

    Protecting Yourself in the Job Process

    It's important to take precautions when networking with individuals, including friends of friends and alumni, as well as conducting interviews with employers and alumni. Learn more.

    Peer Advice 1

    "Really emphasize your unique points in applications. As liberal arts students, it should be easier for us to find interesting aspects we succeed in!" 

    Peer Advice 2

    "For interviews: it's important to sound confident as well as sound interested. How you say things is as important what you're saying in general."

    Peer Advice 3

    "Networking is definitely crucial, so take advantage of the Swarthmore alumni network, but also any networks you have from home, high school, or even people you've met in previous summer internships."

    Peer Advice 4

    "For me, it was mostly about identifying the opportunity I really wanted... Once I reflected more deeply and found the opportunity I really wanted, I focused really hard on that one thing. I think narrowing the scope of your job search is tough because it may feel like you're closing doors, but it is an important part of finding the best opportunity."

    Peer Advice 5

    "For interviewing, practice! Write out some answers to anticipated questions, and practice them over and over again. Go on mock interviews, and practice by yourself in the mirror or camera. My advice for application materials is pretty similar-- the key is focusing in on one piece, working really hard on it, refining and revising it, and then submitting it. In general, with focus and attention to detail, the rest will come."

    Peer Advice 6

    "For companies that I had no connection to, I searched for Swat alums at those companies on LinkedIn and sent them an email asking if they had any advice about getting a job and if they had a few minutes to talk. Often times, they were happy to hop on a phone call. Initially, I was nervous about talking with people I did not know, but Swat alums are always very nice." 

    Peer Advice 7

    "I made sure to research a lot about companies before getting on the phone with alums and other contacts. I also kept up to date with current tech news. During phone calls and interviews, it was one thing to say, 'I am very interested in software engineering' or 'I am very interested in your company.' However, the phone call goes better if you are able to ask specifics about the company or talk with them about current news in their field."

    Peer Advice 8

    "I had one or two bad experiences in which interviewers asked about things that I mentioned or were on my resume that I did not know much about. The lesson was if I did not want to talk about something in an interview, I should not have it on my resume or mention it at all. Interviews are not that long so I always tried to concentrate on things I am comfortable with."

    Peer Advice 9

    "Send your resume to multiple people for their advice - this includes CPAs, your peers, recent graduates, more experienced alums and so on. It is not uncommon to have dozens of drafts before coming up with a great resume. Remember to use a variety of action verbs and quantify the results of your contributions."

    Peer Advice 10

    "Before submitting a cover letter (with a firm-specific introduction) or going into an interview, it is always helpful to reach out to alums at that firm to learn about their experiences and interview tips. If you can mention specific names or anecdotes, it is always a huge plus and demonstrates your passion for the position."

    Peer Advice 11

    "Prepare for interviews with your buddies! It is so helpful to prepare for behavioral/ case interviews with friends and they are the best people to go through the process with. My friends have been a great source of support for me and I am incredibly grateful that we stuck together through the many applications and interviews."

    Peer Advice 12

    "Externships are incredibly helpful for gaining experience and building connections. You can do it through Swat’s program, or you can always reach out to alums or local companies over breaks. There are also unpaid part-time internships during the semester and these can be great talking points during interviews."

    Peer Advice 13

    "For networking, often the most helpful people to reach out to are recent graduates who just went through the recruiting process and are eager to help. Often, they are involved in the first-round selections too. Also, it is helpful to chat with junior members first before reaching out to more senior alums at the firms."

    Peer Advice 14

    "I have been amazed by how strong our alumni community is - people are always happy to help! Please don’t be intimidated by alums’ experiences/ positions and feel free to reach out. Just remember to always be respectful of their time and have a thoughtful list of questions ready. Always write thank-you notes!"

    Peer Advice 15

    "Great advice that I received was to block out time every day to focus on job-hunting - perhaps two hours every afternoon to work on applications, reach out to alums and prepare for interviews. Swat can be overwhelming sometimes and this is a great way to spread out the stress of job-hunting and make it a daily habit."

    Peer Advice 16

    "One of the best practices of networking is always follow-up with people you meet, such as alums you spoke on the phone with, someone you met at a networking dinner, recruiters at an information session and so on. It is surprising how few people follow-up consistently and it is a great opportunity to leave a lasting impression."

    Peer Advice 17

    "After you have secured an internship or job, remember to share the good news with everyone who has encouraged and helped you along the way. These connections and friendships can last a lifetime. Also, it would be great to pay it forward by supporting others who are going through the process as well."

    Peer Advice 18

    "If you haven’t already, now is the time to be best friends with Career Services! Drop in for an appointment and the counselors are incredibly helpful in providing support and pointing out useful resources."

    Peer Advice 19

    "Handshake has been a great resource for me and I’d highly recommend logging on regularly to check out jobs, information sessions and on-campus interviews."