How Your Job Hunt May Be Harming Your Privacy
Gone are the days of grabbing the local paper and circling jobs in the classifieds section. In the internet age, the majority of job postings are online. It’s not just postings either, nearly the entire recruitment process happens at the command of a keystroke. Remote working has become more common, as the internet has opened up opportunities to work from anywhere in the world.
No longer do you head to your local job center, meet the hiring manager, and hand them a paper resume. Simply, the internet has changed everything. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better.
Here’s why the recruitment sector’s lax security, invasion of privacy, and lack of transparency could harm you in the long run.
Recruitment Security Soup
In our regular lives we wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger and recount our entire employment history, address, and interests. However, it’s what we are expected to do when it comes to online job searches. Instead of developing a relationship with your local recruitment manager, you are cajoled into sharing confidential and personal information on a recruitment website. In the modern employment marketplace, you have to go to where the jobs are, and because the market is fragmented there is no one central data repository.
Job hunting is understandably stressful, and leads to you signing up to a handful of different recruitment websites in order make your applications. This dispersal of personal data is extremely helpful during your job search. However, once you are happily employed it’s likely to be forgotten. Unlike a username and password which should be unique to each site, your resume and employment history is fixed across every site. If a breach were to happen then that information would be freely available and unchangeable.
Arguably you could level these same criticisms at the majority of websites that handle your data. You don’t have to look far for demonstrations of corporate disregard for security practices. Equifax , OneLogin , and the WannaCry epidemic are just a few recent examples. Given the often overwhelming volume of security breaches, it can be tempting to turn to apathy and give into security fatigue . However, recruitment websites hold data that is more personal and confidential than many others. If any of the sites you had entrusted your address, employment history, and social security numbers to suffer a breach, the fix isn’t as straightforward as changing a password.
The Resume Runaround
In days gone by, your resume was the way to land yourself a job. These days it is still important, even if it is supplemented by your recruitment website profiles. Although employers reportedly only spend six seconds glancing at your well-crafted resume, it allows you to put across your personality, priorities, and skills in a way that text boxes on a form don’t allow. Your resume is your professional highlights reel, giving focus to what you want to project to a specific set of potential employers.
One way to stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace is to create a tailored resume for each job opportunity. Privacy in our personal lives allows us to vent, joke, and open up to specific groups or individuals without compromising or changing our other relationships. The rationale for a tailored resume is the similar. It allows us to present a version of ourselves that suits a particular opportunity. Given the complex and personal nature of a resume, it’s a document that we — rightly — guard and take care of.
Of course, in the midst of applying for jobs, protecting your resume isn’t likely to be a high priority. The goal of job hunting is to get your resume in front of as many hiring managers as possible, and even in the digital age that hasn’t changed. Once a physical paper copy of your resume has outlived its usefulness, it finds a home in the shredder or trash can. However, the internet never forgets. Online resumes have the unintended consequence of leaving a digital trail.
One that may affect your chances of finding yourself a job in the future.
The Privacy Predicament
If you wanted to purge the internet of your out of date resumes you will run into a problem — you have no idea where they are. Many of the websites offer employers or recruitment consultants access to a resume search. This allows them to filter candidates and download resumes for reference later. This feature is a double-edged sword — it allows your resume to be seen by more employers but removes all transparency on where your data is going. A major concern here is recruitment consultants, many of whom offer resume search services for their own clients. This means your resume could end up three or four levels away from the original recruitment website, and without any means to trace its journey.
However, your resume is only one part of the privacy puzzle. It is in the site’s best interest to persuade you to share as much of your personal information as possible. Completing your profile provides the site with data, but you are in control of how much you feel comfortable disclosing. A closer look at the way each site operates though shows how opaque the world of online data collection really is, and it starts as soon as you decide to sign up.
Lack of Control
Lurking in Shadows
Networking With Added Social
Recruiters and hiring managers learnt pretty fast how to exploit our collective addiction to oversharing online. Having a quick Google for a candidate and poking around in their Facebook profile has become another metric to judge their suitability for the job. The practice is so commonplace that you need to clean up your social media profiles before applying for a job. Some employers have even attempted to force candidates to hand over their social networking passwords. Fortunately, this is generally considered to be on the wrong side of the law.
Even more concerning is that large social networks are attempting to muscle in on the recruitment space. The most successful is LinkedIn, which has become a major staple of professional networking and job hunting. LinkedIn was hacked in 2012 , and has always had a spotty history of protecting your privacy . It was acquired in 2016 by Microsoft, who themselves are unlikely to be granted goodwill for their surreptitious data collection . Keen not to be outdone, Facebook added a jobs search engine to their already bloated social network. Not to be left out, Google launched their own Google for Jobs only a few months later.
Business Insider recently reported that Facebook may allow users to upload their resume, putting them in direct competition with LinkedIn. Given Facebook’s less-than-stellar track record on privacy , this move to blend personal and professional is a cause of concern. That’s not to say that all these tools don’t have value when searching for your next job. After all, networking is integral to the job hunting process. However, with recruitment companies and social networks aping for each other’s business, expect to see your privacy erode even further as the boundaries between your personal and professional lives continue to blur.
Who Can You Trust?
In virtually all online activities we make some level of compromise. As the saying goes: if it’s free, then you are the product. This is true across social networking and increasingly in the recruitment industry. In return for dramatically increasing the employment opportunities available to you for free, the websites will turn your data to their advantage. Whether you view this as a fair trade will likely be dependent on your own circumstances. However, it seems unlikely many of us would willingly miss out on the perfect job due to these concerns.
Have you used online recruitment agencies? What has been your experience? Do you think they should be doing more to protect your privacy and security? Let us know in the comments!
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