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Those of you who surf popular job boards like Used Victoria, Craigslist or Kijiji will notice that many of the postings are from employers who remain anonymous. It seems counter-intuitive ! Shouldn’t employers want to broadcast who they are so that job-seekers have an opportunity to conduct research, target their resume and generally put their best foot forward ?

Yes, they should but employers have a variety of reasons for pursuing the anonymous strategy. The most common reason for this is that they do not want to be inundated with unwanted phone calls or drop-ins from assertive job-seekers. It is not unusual for a job advertisement to generate hundreds of applications. Many employers do not have the time or resources to deal with the implications of that so anonymity allows them to operate behind a digital veil of secrecy.

This may not be the best hiring process but employers have the right to conduct themselves in this way just as job-seekers get to choose whether to respond to these ads or not.

There can be a more sinister purpose for these types of job ads, however. Some anonymous postings are fake and their main purpose it to gather information, or in some cases even as the initial point of contact to initiate fraudulent activity. Some employers may not be hiring at all but are curious as to what kind of response they might get to an ad. This is a waste of time for the applicant as there is no real opportunity. The more threatening type of ad is placed to lure the job-seeker into either engaging in illegal activity or to get them to disclose personal or banking information. These types of scams are common and one thing they often have in common is that all communications take place by phone or email. There is rarely a face to face meeting. Rare is the employer who would hire someone sight-unseen so this should act as a red-flag for a job seeker.

The problem is that many anonymous job postings are legitimate. To dismiss them out of hand is perhaps to ignore a potential dream job. If you are tempted to respond to such an ad here is some advice.

• Create an alternate email account for only to be used for anonymous postings. Hotmail, Gmail and Yahooare all free and there is no reason not to take advantage. You can even have messages received in your alternate account forwarded to your primary one.

• Create a resume that has only your name and (alternate) email address as a contact. Use this resume to respond to anonymous postings.

These two actions minimize your risk but also allow you to throw your hat in the ring. If the employer is legitimate and interested in your skills they will soon disclose who they are.

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