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6 Tips To Maintain Your Privacy While Searching For Jobs Online

Looking for employment today is dramatically different from how it was just two decades ago. It’s rare to just walk into a business, fill out an application, and get hired within the same day; today’s job hunt often begins and ends online.

Some might argue that it’s easier to look for and apply to jobs via the Internet because you can do so from just about anywhere and at any time. However, ease of the application process takes a backseat to new and sophisticated threats directed at job seekers.

Creating a presence online has become particularly important, almost necessary, for today’s aspiring workforce. Job searching social sites employers gain a better idea of who workers are, job boards help people find work, and social media can even help spread the word that someone’s looking for a job. But all of these things can be used against you if you’re not careful about what you do and do not share online.

Do not be discouraged while seeking employment online, but do be careful about how you go about it. Here are some safety tips you should implement during your job search that will help keep you and your privacy safe from online scammers:

1. Contact Information
Most people looking for a job try to make it as easy as possible for employers to get in touch with them. This might mean providing contact information including cell phone numbers, home addresses, personal emails, and so on. However, doing this is not necessary and can be extremely dangerous behavior to practice online. Limit the contact information you offer. You can also set up an email account specifically for your job hunt to further limit unwanted solicitations.

2. Sharing Your Resume
Looking for a job can feel like a numbers game—the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you’ll get an interview, right? However, being selective about where you post your resume is a good way to ensure your privacy during a job hunt. Look for reputable sites that offer a privacy policy. Read the policy carefully and look for a privacy seal like TRUSTe or BBBonline. Finding a few quality sites to post your resume to is much better than canvasing dozens of poorly managed ones.  

3. Limit Personal Information
A job site or employer could ask you for personal information you would otherwise not share online. This might include your birth date, mother’s maiden name, or social security number. In most cases, a legitimate employer will never ask you for these details via email or in a digital form. These bits of information are highly prized security features that can prove useful for attackers attempting to steal or compromise your identity. Do not willingly give this information away, especially on the Internet.

4. Limit Social Media
Looking to your personal network for job leads and support can be appealing when you’re hunting for work. However, you should be careful about who you tell you’re job seeking while you’re still employed at your current company. Employers can gain access to your social media accounts rather simply, and if they find you’re looking for work while still employed, they might opt to terminate you ahead of schedule. To stay safe, be careful about what you share with your network on social media.

5. Keep a Log
At some point, you will find employment, and it would be a good idea at that time to remove your resume from the sites and job boards where you have posted it. This can be difficult if you don’t keep track of where you posed your resume. Keep a list of all the places you applied for a job or posted your resume and go back through and delete your resume after you have found a position.

6. Be Wary of Scams

  • Scammers tend to use unsolicited e-mail supposedly from an employer, recruiter, or job board. When is the last time someone from a company contacted you out of the blue and offering up a job? Scammers crawl the Internet for personal information, in order to prey on job seekers. Educate yourself about the most common job scams. If the job description seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure that that the recruiter or employer social media account is genuine before you click and apply. Run an online search on the employer or recruiter name.
  • Jobs offering a lot of money for very little effort on your part are likely fronts for scammers attempting to collect information from you. The most common job scams that are popularly seen online include data entry, stuffing envelopes, rebate or forms processing, wire transfers or money movement, work from home gigs, shipping management, and craft assembly.
  • The structure of an email can be a big red flag to begin with. Many emails from scammers aren’t well written. If the email in question contains spelling, capitalization, punctuation or grammatical mistakes, then that is a telltale sign of a scam. Be on the lookout for capitalization errors, punctuation errors and grammatical issues. Scammers will often try to mimic a legitimate company by using imagery similar to the companies. If something looks off- just delete it, and remember not to download any attachments or links from these types of emails.
  • Don’t provide confidential information until you have signed a contract with the potential employer. Some scammers will ask for bank account information to set up direct deposit. Pro-tip: Before entering personal information online, check to make sure the website is secure by looking at the web address bar. The there should be an “s” at the end of the http in the beginning of the web address.
  • Bogus jobs are set up in order to skim contact information from victims, such as personal and professional email addresses as well as phone numbers. These types of jobs are often posted on legitimate social media pages, too. Scams can be sent out via a shortened URL (bit.ly or ow.ly). Those shortened links could lead anywhere, so keep your shields up on Social Media, too.

Looking for a job is hard work. The last thing you need to deal with is identity theft while you’re searching for employment. Follow these tips to help make your job search more effective and secure.