Beware of Resume-Writing Scams: Protect Your Career and Wallet

Frustrated woman looking at her phone when a Zoom Interview Goes Sideways

A client was recently contacted by a “recruiter” about an attractive job opportunity.

Upon submitting their resume, the recruiter said it wasn’t “ATS compliant.” Of course, the recruiter knew a resume-writing service that could revise it. Urgently.

My client immediately contacted me.

This is never a message I like to receive. Did I do something wrong?

My spidey senses tingled.

  • The resume I provided was properly formatted to “play nice” with ATS.
  • The offer sounded too good to be true.
  • Recruiters wouldn’t use term “ATS-compliant.”

Was this a ruse to sell unnecessary resume-writing services?

Further investigation turned up expert articles on recruiter scams, but they were mainly focused on phishing. I didn’t find anything on selling resume-writing services.

This got me thinking: was this really about resume writing?

Given that I eat, breathe, and sleep resume writing, it’s no surprise that my mind went there first.

But did this recruiter have a team of people writing resumes? Was there a business infrastructure producing actual products? Were these people so desperate that they resorted to lies and deception to rope in customers?

And then what? Every client gets a note that they didn’t get the job (because it never existed)?

None of this made sense. Resume writing is a saturated industry, but it seems highly unlikely someone would go to these lengths to get clients.

Then, it hit me.

This wasn’t about resume writing. It was a phishing scam!

The fake recruiter was trying to get my client to sign up for the resume-writing service to steal their sensitive personal and financial info!

The only “deliverable” that would be provided was a massive headache as my client picked up the pieces after being scammed.

I told my client what I found out, and he immediately cut off communications with the scammer.

Whew! Crisis averted.

My advice moving forward was to build relationships with people inside attractive companies and work his way in from there.

Just say “no” to pushy recruiters requiring paid services!

Understanding ATS

What Is ATS?

  • ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems, are software tools used by employers to sift through job applications.
  • These systems scan resumes for keywords and qualifications relevant to the job.

Myth Busting: “ATS Compliant”

  • There’s no standardized “ATS compliant” resume, but there are formatting best practices to make a resume more “parsable” by algorithms.
  • All submitted resumes are compiled into ATS.
  • Well-formatted resumes with keywords demonstrating a candidate’s alignment with the job requirements help individuals get noticed and land an interview.

Avoiding the Scam Trap

Before diving into how to protect yourself, let’s identify some red flags and best practices for ATS optimization. These tips will help you recognize and avoid potential scams.

Spotting Red Flags

  • Be wary of unsolicited resume critiques, especially if they push for immediate paid services.
  • Question the legitimacy of anyone insisting on specific, paid services after reviewing your resume.
  • Know that legitimate companies don’t ask for money up-front, paid resume-writing services or training.

Best Practices for ATS Optimization

  • First, fit in with simple, straightforward fonts and formatting. Then stand out with impactful content demonstrating cause and effect (i.e., “Achieved X by doing Y in Z situation”).
  • Populate your resume with relevant keywords from the job description.
  • Stay abreast of today’s ATS best practices.

Notorious Scammers

Identifying specific fraudulent services can be challenging, but being aware of common tactics used by scammers is key to protecting yourself.

  • High-pressure, pushy communication.
  • Encouragement to purchase paid services.
  • Recruiters using personal-looking email addresses.
  • Hard-to-find info on the recruiter or their business.

Protecting Yourself

To safeguard your career and personal information, knowing how to validate the legitimacy of recruiters and services is crucial.

Do Your Homework

  • Research any recruiter or service that contacts you. Check their legitimacy.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is.

Stay Informed


On Key

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