Remember when searching for a new job meant scouring the newspaper classifieds, circling potential opportunities and mailing out resumes? Those days are long gone, and most people find new work opportunities online, using jobs boards, social media, and company websites.
Although online job searches have some advantages, they can also put your personal privacy and online security at risk. Therefore, when you are looking for a job online, you need to keep a few key security tips in mind and avoid falling victim to hackers.
The Risks of Online Job Hunting
When you’re looking for a job using online sources, there are some risks inherent in the process that you need to be aware of.
Identify theft: When you post your information online, or send your resume to employers, you’re sharing key information that can be used to steal your identity. Even if you don’t include your home address, hackers can capture other information such as your email address, education and work history, references, and more that they can use to construct a phishing attack or uncover more information that will help them steal your identity.
Job Scams: Cybercriminals prey on unsuspecting jobseekers, posting advertisements for jobs that don’t exist so they can collect information, trick people into sending them money, or trick you into paying for something you don’t need, like software or a resume review.
Viruses: Some “job listings” are simply a conduit for spreading malware or viruses. You may be directed to a website to apply that injects spyware or malware onto your computer or receive emails with links that infect your machine. Often, these job opportunities look legitimate, meaning it’s vital to have strong antivirus protection like that offered on trendmicro.com to detect and block these harmful viruses.
How to Protect Yourself
Installing strong virus protection is a must to keep your machine free of harmful software whether you are looking for a job or not, but there are some additional steps you can take to protect yourself during your job hunt.
Limit the Personal Information You Share: When creating your online resume, keep the amount of personal information you share to a minimum. Do not include your street address on your resume (your city or geographical area is enough) and consider creating an email address specifically for your job search so you can keep it separate from your main email. Never add your birth date, Social Security number, maiden name, or other sensitive information to your resume. When you interview with or get hired, you can share these details directly with the employer.
Learn the Signs of a Scam: Fake employment ads are a major source of information for scammers, so you need to learn the signs of a scam and what to avoid. Some of the red flags to watch for include:
- Unsolicited emails offering jobs that you haven’t applied for, without an interview or any type of application
- Employers who “interview” via chat or instant message
- Unprofessional emails with poor grammar, misspellings, etc.
- Job listing that promise exceptional pay with little to no effort on your part
- Job listings with vague or generic requirements like “Over 18, U.S. resident, and internet access”
- Jobs that require you to make a purchase before being hired
When looking at job listing, follow your gut. If something seems off or too good to be true, it’s very likely that it is, and you should keep looking.
Do Your Homework: Before applying to any job, do some research. Is the company legitimate? Does the information in the job listing align with what you can find online about the company? Even if you are certain you’re applying for a real job, when you receive a response, continue to do your due diligence. Sometimes scammers will reach out to job seekers pretending to represent a company to steal information. Use LinkedIn, company directories, or call the company directly to confirm that anyone who reaches out actually works there.
Keep Track of Your Applications: When you post your resume and apply to jobs, keep a log of where you’ve posted and when. This way, you can cross reference any responses you receive to ensure you actually applied for that job and delete your resume job sites after you’ve landed a position.
Related: 5 Tips To Update Your Resume
There’s really no way to avoid using the internet while looking for a job, so it’s important to learn how to do so safely. Taking precautions and knowing how to avoid trouble will keep your information safe so you don’t need to deal with identity theft while looking for a new job.