Protect Your Identity During Your Job Search: Essential Tips

Do you take measures to protect your identity in the digital world? Most people would answer yes, but have you ever considered the importance of online security when you’re job searching?  Identity protection might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are putting a resume together but the data in your resume could potentially pose a threat to your identity.

When we think of identity theft, we often associate it with data breaches or being scammed by online banking and shopping platforms. However, your resume can also make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Think about it for a moment; your resume typically contains your name, address, phone number, and email contact. All of this information can be an easy target for clever thieves. What’s more, a Word file can store additional information about you in the properties section, which is often overlooked. Have a look in the file properties of your document (File/Info) and see just what is kept in there.

When it comes to job searching, it’s challenging to keep personal information completely private. So, how can you strike a balance between protecting your identity and the need to search for a new role? We have put together a comprehensive checklist to help safeguard your sensitive data when applying for jobs, ensuring you can protect your identity during your job search.

Here are some essential steps you can take to protect yourself and maintain your online security while job searching:

What are you sharing?

Resumes need to have the phone number and email address clearly visible making it easy for employers to connect, let’s face it the whole point of the resume is get the phone call. However, this also means that your resume, containing your phone number, email, and home address, could become a prime target for identity theft. Whenever you post your resume on a public job board, it’s crucial to review the information presented and remove any specific contact particulars to minimise how much data is available.

Never give out your Tax File Number (TFN) or any other identification number. 

This might seem like common sense, but it’s worth reiterating. Be cautious of online employment scams where job seekers receive emails or calls claiming they have obtained an interview, but it’s contingent upon providing an identification number, such as a TFN. Remember, it is illegal for anyone to collect such sensitive information or conduct a background check until after you have been interviewed.

Apply directly through the employer’s website. 

If the previous paragraphs made you think twice about sending resumes on public job boards, consider applying directly through the employer’s website. This approach requires more effort than simply clicking the “Apply Now” button in your email. While you can still explore public job boards, going the extra mile and visiting the employer’s site directly reduces the risk of your personal information falling into the wrong hands.

Change your passwords regularly. 

The hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the importance of strong passwords. We often choose passwords that are easy to remember, like our birthday or our pet’s name. However, to reduce the risk of identity theft, it’s crucial to create passwords that are not easily guessable. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and make sure to change your passwords regularly. You can utilise password management tools like LastPass to securely store and generate strong passwords, and websites like “How Secure Is My Password” to test their strength.

While we have already discussed the key steps to safeguarding your identify, there are additional measures you can take to enhance your online security. Let’s delve deeper into the topic and explore further ways to protect your identity during your job search:
Be mindful of online presence. 

In addition to your resume, review your overall online presence. Look through your social media profiles, make sure you have appropriate privacy settings in place. Remove any personal information that could be used to identify or locate you.

Use a professional email address. 

While it’s important to provide an email address on your resume, ensure that it is professional and not overly personal. Avoid using email addresses that reveal personal details like your year of birth or contain unprofessional language. Create a separate email account dedicated to your job search, and regularly monitor it for communication related to your applications. It’s a great way to make sure you never have a potential opporunity from an employer end up in junk mail.

Implement two-factor authentication. 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. Enable 2FA whenever possible, especially for email accounts and job search platforms. This additional step will make it significantly more challenging for anyone to access your sensitive information.

Customise your resume for each application. 

Yes, we know it sounds like a lot of work but tailoring your resume for each job application not only increases your chances of success but also allows you to control the information you share. Carefully consider the details you include in your resume, focusing on the qualifications and experiences most relevant to the specific job you’re applying for. By doing so, you minimise the exposure of unnecessary personal information.

Use privacy-focused job search platforms. 

Look for job search platforms that prioritise user privacy and data protection. Key things to look for are privacy features, such as controlled visibility of personal information, secure messaging systems, and options to hide your contact details until you decide to share them with specific employers.

Research potential employers. 

Before submitting your resume, take the time to research the companies or organisations you’re interested in. Look for reviews or reports on their data security practices and consider the reputation of the employer. A company with a strong commitment to data protection is less likely to mishandle or expose your personal information.

Be cautious of phishing attempts. 

Phishing emails are a common tactic used by cybercriminals to obtain personal information. Be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders or those that seem suspicious. Look out for red flags such as spelling errors, unusual requests for personal information, or generic greetings. When in doubt, contact the organisation directly to verify the authenticity of the communication. One of the easiest ways to spot a phishing email is to reveal the email address.

Secure your internet connection. 

When submitting applications or accessing sensitive information online, ensure you are using a secure internet connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, as they can be vulnerable to data interception. Instead, connect to trusted networks or consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your identity.

Regularly review your credit reports. 

Identity theft can go beyond job applications, so it is crucial to monitor your credit reports for any suspicious activity. Obtain free copies of your credit reports from reputable credit bureaus and review them for any unauthorised accounts or inquiries.

Stay updated on data breaches. 

Keep yourself informed about recent data breaches and security incidents that may have exposed personal information. Websites such as Have I Been Pwned or news outlets covering cybersecurity can provide valuable information on breaches and help you take proactive steps to secure your data.

By bringing these additional tips into your job search strategy, you can navigate the job search process with more confidence and peace of mind. Stay safe, stay aware, and secure that next big break!



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