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It’s said that technology is designed to simplify our daily lives. PDAs, cell phones, tablets, eReaders and Bluetooth devices are among the many communication tools we use to help make life easier. For some of us that works; others are left to ask how things got so overwhelmingly complicated.
Job searching on the internet presents a similar dilemma: Advances in social media offer you tools to make job searching easier; however, the use of social media comes with it’s own set of problems that can make what seems like such a simple thing actually much more complicated. Remember that almost nothing you do online is truly private. What, then, is the primary challenge created by job searching on the internet? How to protect your privacy and security.
It’s reported that every year approximately 15 million Americans have their identities used fraudulently. Total financial losses exceed $50 billion every year. Personal information is placed at risk of identity theft for an additional 100 million people. No wonder identity theft is considered one of the fastest growing and frequent crimes in the United States.
Many people don’t consider the use of internet social media as something that exposes them to identity theft because they don’t disclose confidential and/or financial information (e.g., Social Security Number, credit card numbers, bank account details) to their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. In some respects, the use of social media actually presents greater opportunity to steal your actual identity because your social media pages tell people who you are. Anyone with access to them is likely able to craft a presentation about you that might convince others online that he or she is you. If successful, anything can happen.
Here are some things to remember when you engage in online job searching using social media:
- Consistently clear your browsing history. Even with your own computer, it is wise to clear your history. Should your laptop ever become lost or stolen, this will prevent whoever ends up with it from being able to retrace your steps easily. Most major browsers now have a “Do Not Track” type of setting. Use it!
- Disconnect. Not literally; it’s a suite of free browser extensions that prevent third parties from following you as you surf the web. There are also anti-tracking tools available for Facebook, Twitter or Google. Use them!
- Vote by proxy. Navigate the internet using proxy servers. Cocoon and Tor are two popular, effective tools for hiding your IP address from websites, thereby making identifying you virtually impossible. This is especially important if you are gathering information about a company and you don’t want your data mined and your identity revealed.
- HotspotShield, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), provides anonymous browsing, protects you from malware and generates secure connections to websites when using unsecured WiFi hotspots.
- Burn Note enables you to send messages that self-destruct after a period of time specified by you. No matter how careful you are about what you send, you can’t count on the same level of care from those who are on the receiving end (having details of your ‘confidential job search’ inadvertently released is usually a disaster!).
- Opt out. Use all privacy options offered.
- You gotta keep ’em separated. Have both personal and professional email addresses. And use each exclusively for its intended purpose.
- Exercise discretion when sharing photos or videos. Pay attention to the privacy settings to limit access. Prospective employers constantly “creep” social media.
- USE A PASSWORD! It is truly the only way to safeguard your important information and communications.
- Think about how confidential you want your search to be. While the information on your resume is typically publicly available elsewhere (phone numbers, address, employers), if you post it online you may want to remove your home address and just leave city, state, a phone number, and an email address. And if you don’t want your current employer to know you are job searching you should not post your resume online as that’s a sure giveaway.
Focusing on privacy and security is the only way to keep your job searching on the internet a secret!