(BPT) – When you’re job-hunting you go to great lengths to stand out among the hundreds – even thousands – of applicants for a single open position. But while you’re working to catch an employer’s eye, have you considered the importance of protecting your information from unwanted attention? Or the need to manage the online reputation you do want employers to see?
Most job searches today begin online. In fact, Beyond.com recently found that 77 percent of job-seekers are using mobile apps to access the Internet in their search. And unemployed people who search for jobs online get a job 25 percent faster than those who only search offline resources, according to a joint study by the Universities of California and Colorado.
Searching online can be a great way to find your dream job, but it also requires you to take extra precautions to protect your personal information and to manage your online reputation. Enterprising identity thieves and scam artists may take advantage of personal, identifying information posted on job boards and online resume sites. And with social media making potentially embarrassing information and images widely available, it’s important for job-seekers to manage what potential employers may find if they were to perform an online search of a candidate’s name.
Protecting your personal information
When you post a resume on a job board, the information is usually public and viewable by anyone who wants to see it. Some websites allow you to control what is viewable and who can see it, limiting access only to potential employers who have registered with the site. Others do not restrict who can access resumes. It’s important to know the privacy policies and settings of any employment website where you will post your resume or apply for jobs.
Consider how much personally identifying information you will share. Information such as your name and past work history may be essential, but keep in mind that no potential employer should ever ask for your Social Security number or financial information during the initial phases of your interaction. If a response to your resume comes with a request for your SSN or account number, be very skeptical and ask why this information is needed so early in the application process.
While conducting your online job search, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit and financial accounts, because that’s where identity fraud will first show up. Consider enrolling in an identity theft detection, protection and resolution product like www.ProtectyMyID.com. The product is designed to help people minimize the damages caused by identity theft and help members safeguard themselves from identity theft.
Protecting your current job
Consider how your current employer will react if someone from your company comes across your active resume online.
While your current employer likely won’t fire you just for posting your resume on a job site, the situation can – at the very least – be uncomfortable. Before you begin circulating your resume or posting on job boards, be sure you know how your current employer would react if your information was found online. If you wish to keep your job search private, make sure to review the privacy settings of any job search websites you’re using.
Conduct your search as honorably as possible, sending resumes, emails, etc. on your own time – and not when you’re supposed to be working for your current boss. Likewise, maintain a separate email address that you use solely for your job search; never use a work email address during a job search.
Protecting your prospects
By now you’ve likely read or heard media reports of prospective employers searching social media sites for information on job applicants. It’s important to manage what employers may view in social media. If you haven’t already done so, restrict access to your social media accounts so that your posts and photos can only be viewed by people you’ve granted permission to. Be sure to set privacy settings to their most restrictive.
Privacy controls notwithstanding, remember that when it comes to the Internet there’s no such thing as 100 percent private. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when using social media is if you would be embarrassed to have your mother or boss view the content, don’t post it.
Finally, before you apply for a job, check your credit report. A growing number of businesses are asking job candidates to agree to credit checks. While the National Conference of State Legislatures says eight states currently restrict use of employer credit checks in the hiring process, and many more have legislation pending, you may still be asked to submit to a credit check.
It’s your decision whether or not to agree, and to determine if protecting your privacy is worth the risk of losing a job opportunity. Knowing what’s on your credit report in advance can help you make a more informed decision.