Protecting your privacy during the job search
Privacy is a tough thing to maintain during a job search because looking for work is a lot like dating. If you aren't willing to totally open up, people will wonder if you're truly ready to commit. Seriously though, I think we all would at least like to believe that even with web 2.0 spilling our digital guts all over the place, some information is still sacred.
Everyone has different concerns when it comes to personal information on the web and employment applications. My focus in this posting will be on information you may submit over the web during your job search that could either put you at risk for identity theft or fraud, or cost you a job.
Posting a Resume Online
If you use any online job board, you are probably going to post your resume online (if you haven't already.) This includes job boards for specific organizations you apply to, as well as job boards like CareerBuilder, Monster, and Dice. You can also post your resume on Craigslist, but I wouldn't do it.
When you post your resume on CareerBuilder or Monster, you have the option of making your resume searchable meaning that employers who subscribe to Monster can find your resume in the database if they search for keywords that match your resume. Monster gives you three options when you post your resume: Public, Confidential, and Private. If you post your resume and set visibility to private, nobody can see your resume unless you use it to apply to a job. Basically, a private resume is a resume you are storing in your profile on Monster for your convenience. Resumes posted as public will make all of your contact information and information about your previous employers available to any recruiter searching the database. Posting a resume as confidential will allow employers to find your resume through keywords, but your contact information as well as the names of your previous employers will be hidden from view.
Job seekers looking for another job while they are currently employed definitely should use the confidential posting option and make sure that all identifying information is removed from the resume they upload before posting it.
None of the online job boards will automatically remove your contact information and employer names from the document you upload or type into the "Add Resume" section. To save time before you post resumes online, start with the normal version that you will attach to emails and send directly to employers, save another copy. Remove all identifying information from the copy and use that one for online job boards.
Job seekers who are not currently employed and just want to prevent fraud and identity theft should still post resumes using the confidential setting, however, you can leave an email address and cell phone number on your resume, if you are comfortable doing so.
Employers contact job seekers who post anonymous resumes through an "Email this job seeker" link provided by the job board. The company that hosts the job board forwards the message to your email box on the employer's behalf. This is a great way to protect your information, however, it puts more of a burden on you to check your email regularly.
If you are concerned about taking your privacy protecting a step further, consider opening a free email account to use exclusively for your job search. For more information about protecting your information on online job boards, visit Monster's Security Center.
Other resources on protecting your privacy during the job search are available through The Riley Guide. Not sure if the work-at-home offer you heard about is legit? Check-out the Better Business Bureau's article on Work-at-Home Scams.
Information That Never Should Go on an Employment Application
- Social Security Number---the only exception to this is government job applications
- Driver License Number
Realistically, no employer is going to invest the time and money in performing a detailed background or credit check on a candidate before they know they're interested and there is no way an employer will know that until they've met you at least once, so even if they claim they need to gather information for background checks and credit checks, just let them know that you will be happy to complete the necessary paperwork once it is clear that you are both interested.
Beyond "I Read Your Email"
Never post anything on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn profile that you wouldn't want a prospective employer to see. The same principle applies to comments you post to other blogs, online reviews you write, or online forums you participate in. If you put something anywhere on the internet, Google can find it. If Google can find it, a recruiter or human resources manager can find it too. Check 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now to make sure you're being pleasantly social without oversharing.