New Job Scam Alert: What is Job-Fishing and How Can You Protect Yourself? 

What is Job-Fishing and How Can You Protect Yourself?

In recent years, one of the best things employers discovered is that hiring in a remote setting works. The power of technology has done wonders for job placement. For example, when many jobs opened up during the pandemic, recruiters could interview people without meeting applicants in-person. As a result, many companies are setting up recruitment steps to be permanently done digitally.   

Take warning, however. While communicating and interviewing online is filling job vacancies at record speed, there is concern about how technology allows fraudulent applications. Devious people are falsifying data and even creating fake versions of themselves for job interviews. Then, on the first day, an entirely different person starts work. This is called “job fishing,” and it’s a serious problem for companies and recruiters. 

Job fishing can also refer to scams where fake vacancies are posted for potential hires to apply. However, for this post, we will focus on situations where one person interviews and another person shows up on the first day of work. While this scenario can be stressful, our advice is not overly worried.  

How Do Job Applicants Use Fake Information to Pass the Hiring Process?   

The term “catfished” is mostly used in the dating scene when someone creates a fake online profile hoping to be noticed. Unfortunately, a similar approach is now circulating in job hunting. Potential hires pad their resumes and online applications so that recruiters will consider them for a job opening.  

While putting in false credentials may not sound new, “job-fishers” take the use of false credentials to a new level. They use tactics such as having someone else pretend to be them during job interviews. Some have even resorted to using deepfake technology in their job interviews. The FBI has issued a public warning about this practice.  

How do you know if your company is a target of job fishing in recruitment? This job fishing victim shares their experience

  • The application is never perfect, but close. Finding a potential hire with all the right qualities is challenging, and job fishers know this. Employers may struggle with seeing how the potential hires’ qualities fit the role. Thus, job fishers will do what they can to appear like someone you are looking for.  

They also know what to say during interviews and may even appear to know the industry through their smooth talk. Little will you know that this is not the person you are hiring.  


  • Asking for references seemed tricky. Going back to the job fishing victim above. He asked for a reference from a former boss from Company X. However, the job fisher supplied a fake reference. This was when he got suspicious, and after searching on LinkedIn and Company X’s Salesforce usernames, he confirmed the applicant was a fraud. The hiring manager protected his team from a toxic employee, which could ultimately harm the company’s financial performance and workplace atmosphere.  


What Are Ways to Avoid Job Fishing? 

It’s unfortunate to see some job seekers lie and cheat to get a position. However, as an employer, you can stop this fraudulent act by protecting yourself from this type of crime. Here are some recommendations:  

  • Ask them to get into details during the job interview. A job fisher may be an expert in presenting themselves through their resume or interview. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll let them pass easily through the hiring process. As you ask questions, feel free to go in a different direction if you feel the applicant in front of you is faking it.   

For example, you can focus on questions about the applicant’s best qualities. Dig deep into how they found their passion for their career, and let them elaborate on their past roles. You may also involve subject matter experts within your company. Ask them for technical questions you can give during the interview or let them join you. Someone with technical knowledge about the role can help spot suspicious applicants.  


  • Take time to vet your candidates. Sometimes, it’s easy to get swayed by a stunning resume or a smooth job interview, but you must remind your recruitment team that contacting references and background checks are equally important. Aside from finding out if job fishing is happening, it’s also a great way to know the applicant further. 

There is an ongoing debate on whether backdoor reference checks should be used. Our take is to use it only if you doubt the applicant’s identity or credentials. You can get more references and explain that you would like to know more about the potential hire by asking former colleagues or managers.  


  • Use social media to verify identities. With the increasing number of social media users all over the world, it’s so easy to find out about someone through their online accounts. Allot ample time to search a person’s name through Google and see what comes up. Usually, consistency in names and photos between social media accounts are signs that your applicant is legitimate.  

Make LinkedIn part of your social media check, too. Having a LinkedIn account is crucial for modern job seekers. With an estimated 50 million users on LinkedIn looking for jobs weekly, using the website for an identity check is a smart idea.   

Related reading: Our Best LinkedIn Profile Tips (From a Pro!) 


  • Trust in the help of a staffing agency. The best way to avoid sketchy job applicants is to ask for a staffing agency to assist you. Staffing agencies know best how to conduct a background check. They can recommend from their talent pool of former applicants they have vetted. As experts in the recruitment industry, staffing agencies are your best partner in looking for the best hires while avoiding job fishers in the process. 

Related reading: 5 Proven Ways Your Company Can Benefit From Using a Staffing Agency 


We at Focus People aim to build meaningful opportunities for you and your future employees. We have always been invested in the success of our people. We practice a holistic approach to leading potential hires to the right positions. Our commitment to transparency hopes to inspire applicants to be transparent about themselves, too.  

Focus People has been delivering reliable services since 1994. Our clients and hires trust us; many have stayed with us for years. We prioritize our clients and focus on providing personalized solutions. Get in touch with us today

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