How to Protect Your Privacy While Job Searching

Looking for a new job is an already stressful process. When you take into account the scam job sites out there, it can become even more overwhelming.

These fake job boards disguise themselves as credible sources and ask for your personal information, only to turn around and sell it to identity thieves and scam sites.

Not cool.

It’s always important to protect yourself online, even during the job-search process. If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, you could face serious, potentially long-term damage.

And in the middle of a job search, the last thing you need to worry about is having your identity stolen.

Luckily, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself while job searching. Here are five different ways you can protect your privacy while looking for a new job online.

1. Keep Your Personal Information Protected

When you’re trying to apply to new jobs online, there will be a certain amount of information you will need to give away – and a lot of that is right at the top of your resume.

It’s important to carefully consider how you format the header of your resume to keep that information as protected as possible and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

While your name and past job titles may not be enough to have your identity stolen, things like your location, phone number and address could put you at risk.

Think twice about posting your personal information online, even if it is a part of your resume. If you’d like to post your resume to job sites, consider making a second copy without this information included.

If an employer asks for your phone number or location, you can provide it separately.

You can protect yourself further by creating an email address that you only give to recruiters or hiring managers. This will give you a way to connect but can protect your personal information.

2. Don’t Share Your Birthday

If you’re applying for jobs, you should never be asked about your birthday. Your potential employer does not need to know your age or when your birthday is, so always be cautious if asked. Because your birth date is needed to steal your identity, it may be someone trying to scam you.

As innocent as it seems, something as simple as putting your birthday on a social media platform could give a scammer all the information they need to steal your identity. If someone asks for your birthday, it is always best to decline an answer.

3. Create a Cyber-Safe Resume

When we create our resumes, we want them to be as clear as possible. While this was fine when job seekers were handing their resumes directly to hiring managers, the way we search for jobs has changed.

Now, when we simply post our resumes online and apply to jobs through job boards, many more people have access to our information. The more specific our resumes are, the more information they will have.

A cyber-safe resume considers the information you may not want to fall into the wrong hands.

While things like your job title or the company you work for may not seem like much, scammers can use this information to find out more about you. As such, some recommend generalizing unique job titles and company names to protect yourself from scammers and current employers who may come across your resume and fire you.

4. Track Your Online Applications

When you’re job-searching, you probably apply to many different jobs at once. If you’re not properly tracking these applications, you may not know where you applied and how you submitted your application.

When someone reaches out to you, you can’t say whether or not you truly applied to that company — even if it is just a scam.

Tracking your online applications allows you to see where and how you submitted your application.

If a company reaches out to you that you did not apply to, you know they are probably trying to solicit information. This can help you identify a scam early on, protecting yourself from having your identity stolen.

Bonus: Tracking your applications will help you follow up later on in the process, so you may also want to include a note with when you submitted your resume.

5. Do Your Research

Whether you’re considering applying to jobs on a new job board or you have an interview set up with a potential new company, you want to do your research before you get too far in the job application process. Researching past experiences with a company or job board can help you avoid any scams.

Start your research by doing a quick search online. However, keep in mind that fraudulent websites can go out of their way to secure fake reviews or testimonials about a company or website. If you have a bad feeling about something, it is best to move on and not risk it.

While doing research may take a bit more time, it can protect you from the headache and hassle of potentially falling for a scam.

The process of finding a new job can be stressful, but don’t add additional stress by being careless with your information. Although you may feel like you’re being overly cautious, doing whatever you can to ensure the safety of your identity is important. Don’t fall for a job scam just because you’re desperate for a new job.

Do you have any tips on protecting your privacy during a job search? Share your advice, stories and experiences in the comments!

For more tips, subscribe to Punched Clocks. In the meantime, check out our other job search articles for tips to get you started on your path to career success.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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