When applying for jobs online there is a risk of our personal information being stolen. We share our name, contact information, and address with employers, and while this is a necessary part of the job search process, we can still take steps to ensure we do not become targets of cyber criminals and identity theft.
Have you ever wondered how your parents or grandparents applied for jobs? They might have seen a sign saying “hiring” or “need help”, or by word of mouth. Applying for jobs in person is much safer compared to applying for jobs online, but our world has changed a lot since then and it is becoming harder and harder to avoid using the internet for our job search. Here are ways you can protect yourself from cyber criminals.
Limit the personal information you share
Your personal information is highly desirable to cyber criminals. As such, it is important to limit the amount of personal information you share online. If your personal information is stolen, it can compromise everyday activities and undermine your reputation, both privately and professionally.
Be selective on the websites where you share your resume
Sharing your resume to established sites like LinkedIn can be a sound strategy, but not all websites are created equal. There are people behind some who are waiting to steal your information. Sharing your resume on these lesser-known sites could mean putting your privacy and professional profile at risk. If you do share your resume, remove your address and other information that identity thieves could potentially use.
Research the company to ensure it is real
Cyber criminals often pretend to be legitimate companies in order to steal your information. It is important to research a company before you apply. Your research should go beyond checking the company website. Look up the company’s address and try to look at the street view on Google maps or visit the physical location. Check if the company has a LinkedIn or other social media account, or if they have reviews on Glassdoor. Other ways to know a company is fake:
· If they ask for personal financial information early on
· If the job is offering a lot of money for little work
· If there are obvious grammatical or spelling errors
· If the contact email address is personal(e.g. Johndoe464@gmail.com) or one that mimics a real company website.
Do not provide confidential information until you have signed the contract
Companies who ask for confidential information, such as banking information, too soon in the hiring process should be a red flag. Employers usually ask for a void cheque or a direct deposit form after a contract has been signed. If a company does ask for banking information before you sign a contract, ask follow up questions to find out why they need this information. An example of a follow up question is, “Can you please provide more information on why you are collecting my banking information?” In addition, you can politely turn down the request. For example, “Unfortunately, at this time in the hiring process I am not comfortable sharing my banking information.”
Use unique phrases and characters in your passwords
Create passwords that are hard for others to guess but are easy for you to remember. A unique password has upper and lowercase characters, numbers, and special characters (e.g.,John@10Doe$$). It is important to use different passwords, whenever possible, for multiple websites or accounts. This makes it harder for someone to access more of your information. It is also recommended you use the two-factor authentication if it is available. Two-factor authentication requires a code in addition to a password. The code could be an SMS text to your phone, an email verification, or a biometric indicator, like fingerprint/touch id or facial recognition/face id.
Protecting your privacy while searching for a job online is not easy, and the last thing you want to deal with is cyber security threats and cyber criminals stealing your information on top of the regular stresses of job searching. If you follow the tips above you can have one less thing to worry about!