Personal Information in Your Online Job Search

My online friend Gert recently asked me this question:

Do you have your resume up on your LinkedIn profile? What kind of contact information are you giving on it? I don’t want my number and address just out in public, so I have a version of my resume with just my email address… I’m not sure if that’s going to hurt me in the long run if I upload that version.

I think Gert’s concerns are well-founded.  She wants to stay safe, but is worried that employers won’t know how to contact her.

Identity theft is a real problem.  I would definitely not put my phone numbers or address on any profile website.  Especially not my home number, which is listed and can actually lead someone to my front door.

But would it look bad to simply include an email?  No, not really.  Most emails have a spam filter, so if you end up getting crap, you can redirect it so you never see it.  It goes without saying that you should never click on links in emails.

Job sites like Careerbuilder.com have an option to upload your resume when you apply for a listed position.  It’s perfectly okay, however, to use one that only contains your email.   You can create an email specifically for your job hunt.  Make sure it looks professional; sexybeastchickypoo@hotmail.com  isn’t going to cut it.

Check the site’s privacy policy on how they share information you give them.  If you’re not comfortable with it, you don’t have to apply there.  Careerbuilder has different levels of privacy, or you can just use it to search.

Generally, if you’re looking for work you should be checking your email, Facebook and LinkedIn a couple of times a day at least.  So you’re unlikely to miss anything.

Some companies, like universities, healthcare, and government, have online applications.  These are encrypted so you don’t usually have to worry about information being public.  If you’re truly concerned about hackers, you can always go to the facility and apply in person, on paper.

Personal information you should never include online:

  • Social security number, marital status, driver’s license number, bank account/credit card information.  You don’t need to provide your social security number until you are hired by a legitimate company.  And I hope you did your homework checking them out.  Only scammers want the rest.
  • References’ contact information.  Most companies won’t ask for this up front unless you’re filling out a detailed application.  It doesn’t belong on your resume.  Don’t compromise your references’ safety.
  • User names, passwords.   Never, ever give a potential employer access to your social networking page, email, etc.   I would not even consider one who asked!  Don’t friend them either.

Check these links for more information about staying safe and avoiding scams.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) scams and safety page

University of Connecticut Dept. of Career Services job search safety page for students

Yahoo! Article:  Hazards of Internet Job Boards – how to screen job postings

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2 thoughts on “Personal Information in Your Online Job Search

  1. I’m wondering if the applying in person on paper strategy for protecting your information would be effective. A lot of those institutions’ HR systems are electronic anyway, so likely they’ll either enter your information into that system, or ask for an electronic copy of your documents. If not entered online, this information will at least be floating around the institution’s internal network. This happened to me when I applied for a staff position at a university in January.

    • In my experience, those files are usually kept out of reach of just anyone. And many companies have done away with the SS# on apps anyway. For government jobs, you have to give it. At least I have, for city, county and state.

      Most places I’ve worked are pretty careful about keeping personnel files and applications secure. I dislike writing my social security number on anything just in case. If I’m really concerned, I’ll ask them if they shred applications after the hold period. If they are jerky about it, chances are I don’t want to work there anyway.

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