5 Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online During a Job Hunt

David Gaudio, March 10, 2020
5 Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online During a Job Hunt  - Over-the-shoulder view of a woman sitting with a laptop on her lap, with "Job search"  on the header of a web page and "Find job" within a search bar in the bottom third of the screen

In today’s interconnected world, data privacy is on the minds of many people. After a series of high-profile data breaches over the last ten years, the average person is more hesitant to divulge personally identifiable information than they once were. But, there are some activities, like online job hunting, that necessitate the sharing of very personal information. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new opportunity and overlook the security risks.  

And that’s the key concept here. When thinking about security, it is better to think in terms of relative risk as opposed to a secure/insecure binary. All actions in your job hunt that involve the release of personal information incur some level of risk. Thankfully, there are a few simple practices job seekers can do to greatly mitigate these risks. These steps will go a long way in keeping your sensitive information safe. 

1. Think Twice About Your Resume 

Your resume is likely full of personally identifiable information. In some ways, that is the point. The resume is meant to distinguish you as an individual from other applicants in the pool. Nevertheless, it is worth double-checking what information is shared and which can be omitted to preserve your privacy. 

For example, it is unnecessary to include your contact information for your current place of employment. There should already be a primary means of contact, whether email or cell phone number, and the extra contact information could be used in spear phishing campaigns against your organization. 

In addition, many applicants include their physical home address in their resume. In the past this information was valuable for facilitating communication about the role, but in the digital age, it is superfluous. Employers do not need to know at this initial stage where precisely the applicant lives. A town or city should be adequate. 

2. Be Careful with Social Media 

It is a well-known fact that employers review the social media profiles of their applicants to learn more about them. For that reason, it is very important to be mindful of how these profiles are used. Yes, you want to present a respectable persona, but your social media profile has security implications as well. 

Be sure to mark all your social media profiles as private or be judicious over who can see your profiles. Be cautious of what you post and share online. It can be staggering what an attacker can learn about someone when they are unaware of their own social media habits. On the opposite side of this issue, it is just as useful to know if people are talking about you online. Be aware of your social presence no matter how large or small. 

To build on this idea, scrutinize any unsolicited message from a recruiter sent through a social media platform and especially through email. Spear phishers target individuals and use their LinkedIn and other social media account to craft personally tailored phishing messages. Avoid clicking any links in these messages until you can verify the veracity of their intent. 

3. Take Advantage of Privacy Features 

Many companies are sensitive to the security risks of sharing information online and offer additional privacy features. These could be filters determining who can see which pieces of information or other forms of protection. Take advantage of these features whenever possible. 

4. Sign Your Name Cautiously 

Always be careful what you sign, and this is equally true in the digital space as it is when in person. Electronic signatures are legally binding in 27 countries, and sophisticated electronic signature solutions, like OneSpan Sign, record a detailed audit trail of the entire signing ceremony. The organization may be able to produce a recorded video showing how long you viewed each page and when precisely you signed the document. Chances are, whatever you sign digitally will be legally enforceable. 

As a side note, make sure whatever electronic signature solution you use also includes digital signature encryption technology to protect the integrity of the document. 

5. Keep an Application Log 

In a modern job hunt, applicants often hit every job listing for which they qualify. Many write a stock cover letter and stock resume and send the same information to dozens if not hundreds of employers. It is good practice from an organizational standpoint to keep an application log, but it also has security benefits as well. 

Whenever you submit an application or send your resume, simply make a note in a spreadsheet. List the employer, the date you applied, and any other relevant information. This will help you keep track of every application and which organizations and individuals have your information. 

Plus, it will help avoid the embarrassing situation of applying twice to the same job listing! 

Stay Secure in Your Job Hunt 

Your hunt for a new job should be an exciting one. It presents an opportunity for new challenges, new successes, and growth in your field. But most importantly, try to create a self-awareness of your habits and how your decisions, though perhaps insignificant at the time, can lead to a cyber-attack in the future. 

Happy hunting! 

David Gaudio is the Senior Content Writer for all things security and e-signature at OneSpan with nearly ten years’ experience in digital marketing and content creation. David earned his BA in Publishing and Creative Writing and has since worn almost every hat in the digital marketing closet.