Don’t fall prey to job scams

To many, the UAE is a land of dreams. however, some unscrupulous recruitment agencies are taking advantage of vulnerable job seekers with promises of perfect placement
The Community By Shayantani sinha
Published on June 1, 2014
job scams

DUBAI The notorious job scamsters are back in business, dangling the bait of lucrative employment offer at gullible job-seekers. This has resulted in many candidates coughing up hundreds of dirhams on the pretext of ‘interview training’ or ‘administration fees’. While the trend may not be new — and one that has been highlighted in the media innumerable times — gullible jobseekers continue to fall prey to these unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
Interestingly, the modus operandi of the scam seems to be the same — place adverts in leading newspapers and once a candidate bites the bait, call them over to an office for an interview, of course at a price. Such scamsters often target desperate candidates who are either new to the city or whose visas are nearing expiration. Sample this: When Rajeev Saxena decided to come to Dubai on his brother’s sponsorship, he was positive that he would find himself a decent paying job. Like most job seekers, looking at the appointment sections of newspapers was his first step. This gradually turned into incessant job search on websites. During one such search, Saxena came across an advertisement that contained exactly the kind of profile he was hoping for. The vacancy sounded promising — it mentioned a ‘walk-in interview’ for a customer service executive position. Holding four years of customer service experience, Saxena made a call to the company and a receptionist who called herself Zareena answered. After a brief conversation she asked him to drop by at her office in Ajman the following day. Saxena did as asked and the next day he and his brother showed up at a small apartment-turned-office.
“As we entered, two men walked out of the office and warned us that this was a fraudulent company. However, we went ahead to try our luck,” said Saxena. They were greeted by the sight of four Asian ladies dressed in abayas, sitting at what was made to look like a reception area, each of them carrying one or two cell phones that rang every few minutes.
“So it’s a recruitment agency, I thought,” said Saxena. “I spotted Zareena, introduced myself, and she asked me to be seated. She scanned my resume and spoke to me for about 15 minutes about the company, the position, a salary ranging between Dh5500-6000, accommodation, annual air ticket and a promotion or salary hike in six months.” Saxena’s brother sat in the waiting area. “They said the same lines to everyone who was there,” he said and also noticed that they promised all candidates that they were “80 per cent selected”. At the end of this interview, the job seeker was asked to pay a Dh500 registration
fee with the condition that if the applicant does not get placed at all, Dh500 will be refunded.
However, if an applicant withdraws his registration, Dh250 will be refunded. To any doubts they had, the standard responses were: “This company has been functioning for six years and we are not going anywhere…This is company policy, we don’t make the rules sir….You will definitely get a job”.
“They claimed they had a website and it was under maintenance,” said Saxena.
Uninformed that it was against UAE laws for a recruitment agency to charge applicants any fee for registering, Saxena paid the Dh500 and got a registration number as well as a visiting card with a number to follow up. However, after regular calls and visits until the day when his visa finally expired, all he got were delayed promises of “You will surely get a job”.
Hussein Anwar, who approached the same company to help his wife find a job, said: “I don’t know if they were a fraudulent
company. I didn’t like the atmosphere of the place so I went back the next day to get back my refund.”
Anwar had also paid the Dh500 registration
fee, however, only half the amount was refunded to him. The remaining Dh250 was retained by the company as a processing fee for registration.
When The Community called up this particular
company, posing as a candidate, a female agent answered and hurriedly gave their address. The lady wasn’t willing to give us any details about the company, but told us they were conducting interviews at the moment and we should head to their office immediately. “You need to pay Dh500 for processing,” she rambled.
The UAE Labour Law states that no jobseeker must be charged a recruitment fee. A call centre agent at the Ministry of Labour confirmed the same. “It is illegal,” he said, adding, “It is clearly listed under the ministerial order 52, 1989 edition, Article 6.” All reputed agencies that The Community spoke with confirmed that they don’t charge their candidates any fees.
Another call was made to the same office,
this time stating that we were reporting
their activities.
The call was quickly handed over to Sayeed Afridi, the manager, who insisted that they were genuine. “We are a human resources consultancy. Once a candidate pays Dh500, within 10 days we try and source them a job. There is no guarantee.”
When asked if he can share a list of the companies, the manager resisted, saying
that they cannot divulge the names of the vompanies. He, however, claimed ignorance of the UAE law that disallows him to charge jobseekers. “There is a law for charging,” he insisted, before justifying, “No one is forcing anyone to pay. If the people are willing, they can pay.”

WARNING SIGNS

Emma Whinnery-Al Shaikh of IPF Human
Resources Consulting says, “The biggest
warning sign is when a company asks for money up-front.”
Oscar Cooper of Duneden Human Resources Consultancy elaborates, “We do not take any payments from candidates, we charge our clients, full stop. We’re hearing a lot of it lately, people assuming that there’s a fee.”
Recruitment firms are not supposed to charge job seekers registration fees, though some companies do offer courses that you would need to pay to attend.

THE PROMISE OF A JOB

There can be no guarantees when it comes to the job market. Cooper points out that there are several factors involved, “A lot depends on the candidate and how he does in the interview. A candidate can get through to the final round of interviews and still not get a job.” In Whinnery-Al Shaikh’s words, “We never promise anything to anyone.”

LACK OF INFORMATION

A good recruiter should tell you about the company he works for and the company in which there is an opening. He should also try to get to know you to make sure you are a good fit for the post and his client company. This means that the two of you should have an in-depth conversation so that he can assess you and your goals. Once your interview at the prospective workplace is over, the recruiter should call you up to find out how it went and perhaps offer a little feedback.

PROTECT YOURSELF

The UAE Labour Law is crystal clear on this matter and bans agencies from charging candidates for job applications or employment. Moreover, if the company is running out of a domestic arrangement, or doesn’t have a permanent address, be wary. Also, do your own background check of both the recruiting agency and the company they claim to be recruiting for. This should help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Further, always see the company’s trade licence and never sign anything you haven’t read completely.

READER’S VOICE

1. Have you ever paid money to a recruitment agency in order to get a job?
2. Do you know any recruitment agency that asks for money from aspiring job seekers?
Do send in your feedback by writing to us at thecommunity@skyhorizonmedia.com

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