Data security has become a hot issue over the past few years, especially in the hiring process.
It seems we can’t go more than a few weeks before hearing about another data leak from some company or another.
Companies have a responsibility to keep your data safe. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself as well. That’s especially true when you’re searching for a job.
When finding a job, you often deal with personal information, such as your contact information, address, and personal identification.
All those things can be dangerous if they get into the wrong hands.
It’s important to make sure you follow basic data security practices when you’re looking for work.
1. job seekers should avoid open networks
In every coffee shop in the country, there are open Wi-Fi networks that will connect you to the web.
When you’re dealing with secure data, avoid jumping on these open networks. Though the chance of something happening is low, why expose yourself or your data to that risk?
Instead, if you need to upload your resume to apply to a job posting while you’re out, try using your phone's hotspot, since you can password protect it.
Also, make sure to password protect your Bluetooth transmissions, because that's another easy way to gain access to your private data.
When using free, open Internet connections, stick to benign activities. Avoid job hunting activities like filling out an application with personal info about you, telephone numbers, online banking, or making online purchases that will expose sensitive information.
2. don’t include personal information on your resume or applications
You should never include personal information on your resume. Your personal information could be used to gain access to accounts or answer security questions.
This includes your birthdate, social security number, your mother’s maiden name, and anything else you might have used in a security question.
This also includes your home address. Keep your phone number and email address on your cv, future employers will need those to contact you.
There’s no added value to including your address on your resume. It just makes it easier for employers to assess the neighborhood you live in and for your personal address to get into the wrong hands. So remove your address from your resume.
If a potential employer requests your address, be wary. Until you sign a job offer and become an official employee, there’s very few reasons why they would need to know this information.
3. only apply to reputable employers
When you need a job, sometimes you can get caught up in applying to any and all jobs, just hoping to find an income stream.
This behaviour can be risky. Maybe you found a contract job on Craigslist, or a full-time position with a company you've never heard of, or maybe the company’s website looks fishy. Don’t ignore your instincts that something’s up.
If you’re suspicious, there’s a good chance there’s a reason. It’s not difficult to create a template website and set up a job ad for nefarious purposes.
If you don’t know the company, and it seems ‘off’, trust your instincts and do some research before handing over your resume and personal information.
You don't want your resume going through the wrong applicant tracking system.
4. always tell someone when you’re on a job interview
When you’re meeting new people, whether for a date or a job interview, it never hurts to let a friend or family member know what’s happening.
This is especially true if you’re going somewhere unusual that you wouldn’t normally.
Today, most first meetings and interviews today are done in a public space (such as a coffee shop or a crowded office) or on video call.
However, if you are interviewing for a new job in a location that you're unfimilar with, it’s a good idea to let a friend know where you'll be.
Chances are nothing will happen and it will be an unnecessary precaution. But at least you’ll have someone you can call afterward to discuss how it went!
5. use trusted job websites
When applying to jobs, stick with websites you know and trust. Sites such as LinkedIn and Monster are well-known and most likely to be safe.
They have a vested interest in vetting the employers on their site and ensuring you and your data stay safe.
Well-known recruitment agencies, job boards and company career sites are probably also safe.
If you don’t recognize the site or the company, be cautious. If you’re really interested in the job but wary of the website’s validity, copy the job description into Google.
If the job is real, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find and apply to the job on another more reputable site.
Most employers post open jobs on a variety of websites.
6. always double check the email address when applying by email
If the job ad requests you send your application to them by email, be wary. Though some employers do occasionally ask for this, it’s not all that common.
These days, most job applications happen through a web portal where you can upload your information and resume.
If you are asked to email something, check out the email address:
- Does it have the company name in it?
- Is it spelled correctly?
- Does it match their website?
Be watchful of the small details. For instance, a company website ends in a .ca domain. Yet, the email contains a .net it might be a sign of a phishing scam.
Also be wary of generic emails from sites like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. The majority of legitimate businesses will have employees use branded email addresses that contain their company name.
7. use common sense
Here’s a tried and true piece of advice: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If the salary and benefits seem outrageously generous, there’s probably something suspicious going on.
Before rushing to apply to a job, always take a moment to analyze the situation and allow your common sense to kick in.
Check out the company’s reputation on sites like Glassdoor or Facebook, and visit their social media pages.
See what previous employees and customers say about them. Before applying to any job, and definitely before accepting a job offer, make sure you can answer questions like:
- Is this company a legal and licensed business?
- What processes are in place to keep my information secure?
- Do I feel confident all laws and regulations will be respected at this company?
- Do I think I will be paid by this employer for my work?
If you can confidently answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, send in your application!