26 July 2016

It's the Middle of 2016. How Secure Are Your Job Applications By Now?

(Image source: pexels.com)
Along with the rise of the internet, many businesses have moved parts of or entire activities online. Marketing is no longer done just physically or on television, it’s also done online, and more and more companies complement retail branches with online stores. The employment industry has changed as well, the majority of job applications being submitted online.

The Log in Button

Here’s a question everyone has asked at least once: if I upload my resume, why do I have to fill in a form with the same information? The answer: because of the Applicant Tracking System. Most recruiters have turned to technology to cope with the incredibly large numbers of resumes they receive every day and use ATS software to triage applications, usually based on keywords.

How safe is the information you submit? 

In August 2015, a hacker managed to breach the servers of an international network of recruitment agencies and steal over 2000 accounts belonging to recruiters around the world. Phishing scams are also on the rise, with identity theft becoming more and more common. Not so safe, it seems. But, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Don’t Apply Everywhere

Be careful where you submit your job application. Don’t just click a job ad and start filling in personal information. Take a look at the website and navigate it a bit before submitting, especially if you’ve never heard of it. Bogus websites are usually made in a rush and don’t look so professional when compared to real job-boards. Get to know the company and brand, take a look at the contact page and, and apply only on reputable websites.

Even if the website looks OK, be careful who you send your information to. Identity thieves are known to post applications on legitimate websites in order to collect the information of people’s resumes, so do some research on the company you are applying to as well. Avoid applying altogether when the company’s name is not mentioned or cannot find anything online about them.

Don’t Easily Share Sensitive Information

Never include information such as your social security number, card information, or your mother’s maiden name, in any of your job applications. No reputable company will ever ask for those pieces of information before knowing they’re going to hire you, and this should raise a flag and make you aware of a potential scam.

Even if you know the company is legitimate and still decide to apply, politely decline to provide that information at such an early stage in the process. Some companies may ask for your social security number to run a credit check, so make it clear you are willing to provide it once you’ve had an interview and have gotten to know the company a little bit more.

Apply On Secure Websites

There is an easy way to check if the website you are on has a secure way of accepting information from you: look at the address bar in your browser, all the way to the left. Does it say “HTTP” or “https”?

HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It is one of the protocols used for transmitting information across the web and the most widely used for websites. It was developed in the early days of the internet and was so successful that everyone started using it. However, once everyone started using it, intercepting the information became easy.

This is why HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure came along. The “secure” part lets you know that there is a secret, unbreakable, cipher through which the information you and the website exchange is encrypted. It means that even if someone were to capture the information, they would be unable to read it since the cypher is only known to the parties exchanging the information. It makes for a good protection method, and you should make sure the website you submit your application to offers it.

Be Suspicious of Invitations

Scammers and spammers can also try to make you apply for a job and give up your personal information by posing as job recruiters inviting you to submit your job application. They send out emails to enormous amounts of email addresses despite the fact that not everyone is looking for a job. They only need a few people to fall for their trap to be successful, though.

To make sure you’re not among the few, ask yourself a few questions:
  • Did you send a resume? Sometimes, legitimate companies scan job boards for suitable candidates and send out mass e-mails too, but these e-mails usually come on behalf of the recruitment website
  • How did the company find your resume? Be wary of emails containing statements like “We saw your resume on the Internet, and we find your skill set to be perfect for one of our clients”. The internet is a big place. Ask for specifics and don’t fret if you never hear from them again.
  • Who are these people? Again, research the company that reached out to you.
If there is a link in the e-mail or an attachment, don’t click the link and don’t open the attachment. It can contain damaging malicious software that can infect your computer. If you’ve already done your research on the company and concluded they are legitimate, still don’t click the link. It’s better to manually type it in your browser’s address bar.

If you are careful about where and to whom you send your information, you can minimize the risks of falling prey to identity thieves and scammers. If you still do, you can easily report it on the Internet Fraud Complaint Center website and help prevent the same from happening to others.

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