5 resume security tips to reduce the risk of scams when online job hunting: Internet Scambusters #412
Posting your resume on an Internet employment search site is an everyday part of online job hunting.
But the information you give about yourself can be used by crooks as well as potential employers.
Securing Your Resume For Online Job Hunting
These days, when most people change employment every few years, online job hunting is very much part of the search process.
And to give themselves the best chance of success, many job-seekers post their resume on one or more of the scores of Internet job search sites.
This makes sense if you believe that the wider you cast the net, the more likely you are to land a good catch, but promoting yourself online does pose a risk of identity theft, spahamming (misspelled intentionally) and other scams, as we've reported in previous issues.
But you can take steps to reduce that risk, while still keeping your chances high of being "discovered" by a potential new employer.
In this issue, we focus specifically on resume security. A good starting point for guidance is the US Office of Personnel Management, which looks after recruitment for the Federal Government.
You can post your resume there for free, but even here the site warns users to be "mindful about the type of information you include on your resume," advising against detailing personal information like your National Identification and driver's license numbers, financial account information, passwords and birth dates.
But you also get a number of extra security options, which likely you also will see increasingly on other, non-Government job search sites.
Resume privacy options
The most "open" option for online job hunting is the public resume, which allows all potential employers to see all the details you posted including contact information. And it's the one we don't recommend.
By contrast, a confidential resume does not disclose your personal details, like contact information, your current employer or available references. Contact with you comes indirectly, via the online job hunting site.
Finally, using a private resume option means it cannot be seen at all by potential employers until you contact them, having spotted a job that interests you, and provide a link.
Ideally, this document should be protected by a password, which you change frequently.
Other job search sites may also allow additional privacy options.
One feature many online job-hunting sites have in common is a claim that your resume cannot be seen by other job-seekers, only by employers.
The validity of that claim, however, rests on how effective a particular search site is at confirming the authenticity of those who say they're employers, so you shouldn't let that influence how much information you give away.
The non-profit World Privacy Forum (WPF), for example, suggests that law firms and private eyes use online job hunting sites to track down people they wish to subpoena.
No matter where you post, your resume will attract a number of online job scams.
These might include bogus jobs, where the scammer wants your details for identity theft or to charge a fee for a supposed security check.
Other search sites will also contact you trying to get you to post with them, or you'll hear from dubious agents offering to find you a job for a finder's fee.
At this stage, you should certainly never respond by disclosing any confidential information until you have thoroughly checked out a supposed employer.
Be especially wary of anything that involves a money request. Legitimate employers simply don't do this.
See our earlier job scams issue, Poor Economy, New Tricks Drive Up Job Scams By 500%, which covered this subject, among others.
Likewise, be aware that any details you've made publicly available about yourself are now in the public domain.
As the WPF warns: "After you've posted your resume openly, you have almost no control over how it will be used."
5 tips for resume posting on online job hunting sites
Bearing all of this in mind, here are 5 important tips to reduce the risk that your online resume will be of any value to crooks:
- Check out any online job-hunting site you're thinking of using; do a search to establish their reputation.
- Establish how they vet potential employers. See what happens if you try to register as an employer yourself.
- As we said above, don't provide any personal details, including your name and your school (crooks can find out a lot just with those two pieces of information).
- Use a "spare" or temporary email address for initial contact; that way you won't fall prey to spahammers.
Although you naturally want to do everything you can to impress a potential employer, the bottom line is this: If you can make your resume impressive AND anonymous, you probably won't have hampered your chances of getting an interview but you will have protected your identity.
Then, when you do get an approach, make sure it's the real thing.
One additional point to be wary about:
You can now prepare your resume online using specialist resume writing services. Most of these are genuine and offer a pledge of total security.
But, as we know, no one, not even Governments, can guarantee 100% security. When your personal data is anywhere in the "cloud" -- that is, on someone else's server -- it's potentially vulnerable, even if the risk is miniscule.
Second, identity thieves could use a phony resume writing service to collect your personal details (though we have no evidence of any doing this at the moment).
In these days of economic turbulence and employment musical chairs, it's natural to want to do as much as you can do to find the best job.
By using commonsense caution, you'll be making the most of your online job hunting, without compromising your security or leaving yourself open to identity theft.