|.||HOME | BOOKS | RADIO | JOB SEARCH | GUIDES | ARTICLES | PRIVACY | ABOUT|
Job Seekers' Guide to Resume Databases: Twelve Resume Posting Truths
by Pam Dixon
Most recent update: July 11, 2005
Publication history: Originally posted 2/20/ 2003, updated 7/2004.
It is important to circulate a resume when looking for work, but these days criminals and identity thieves are all too interested in getting access to resumes for all the wrong reasons. To minimize your resume risk factors while you look for a job, it is important to learn when and where to post a resume, and what kind of job offers to respond to or to avoid.
In the information economy, your resume has a “street value.” It's sad to say, but unfortunately your name, home address, telephone number, even your detailed work history can have value to identity thieves, fraudsters, and private investigators. It is also important to protect your resume from people and businesses who want to use it primarily to make a profit instead of primarily to help you find employment.
Twelve Resume Posting Truths
Truth #1: If you're going to post a resume, post your resume "privately."
You do not have to always post your resume openly. Many job sites offer anonymous posting that lets you mask your contact information or email address when you post a resume. This resume posting option allows you to control who contacts you or not.
Unfortunately, few job seekers take advantage of this option. Most job seekers are concerned that they are closing off legitimate employers. But at this point, it is simply not a good idea to post your resume openly. If you are going to post a resume online, this should be the only way you post it.
Truth #2: Even the most careful, conscientious sites cannot control your resume after an employer or a recruiter has downloaded it.
Truth #3: Not everyone who has access to a resume database should.
It's not just employers that access your resume on resume databases. Criminals and fraudsters posing as recruiters can gain illicit access to resume databases, among others. I was at a large conference in 2004 listening to a presentation when I saw on the screen that one of the main resources for private investigators and law firms looking for people to subpoena was the resume database of a well-known job site. I had heard this anecdotally for many years, but to see it in black and white and discussed openly was another reminder that when you post your resume online, you are taking a risk. Before you put your resume online anywhere, remember that many kinds of people other than people who want to employ you may gain access to resume databases.
Truth #4: Not every job offer you see is for a real job -- some jobs are just scams.
After you post your resume, you may hear from a person offering you a job that is a scam. Fake job scams have become a very serious problem in online job searching, as detailed in the World Privacy Forum "Job Fraud" report. There are usually some clear tip-offs that a job may be a scam. For example:
If any of the above are true, please understand that you may be looking at a fraudulent job. See the WPF detailed consumer tips on avoiding job fraud <http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/jobscamtipspayforwarding.html > for more information about job scams and how to avoid them.
Truth #5: Unless you are applying to the Federal or State government, never put a Social Security Number on your resume.
Also, don't email your SSN to a supposed "employer" before you validate the job offer. (And never mail or fax scans of your driver's license.)
Please, keep your SSN off of your resume, and be very cautious about emailing it to people who ask for it. You should only give your SSN to an employer after you have fully validated them as a legitimate employer. Beware of fake job offers, especially those for "work at home" offers.
The most common situation is that a fake employer will get your resume, then ask you for your SSN or a scan of your driver's license saying that they need a background check before they can hire you. Unless you have physically visited the place of employment or have fully validated the employer by checking with the Better Business Bureau and other agencies, then do not send your SSN, especially through email.
Remember, most legitimate employers will move slowly in the hiring process and will want to interview you one, two, or more times before they officially sign you on as an employee. A fake employer will try to rush you through the process, so you don't have time to think through possible consequences.
Truth #6: Some resume databases are better than others.
One word about job sites: some job sites share resumes between themselves. Don't be surprised if after posting your resume at one site, if it shows up at another. Sometimes, resumes can also be stolen from one site and reposted illegally at another. This has happened to one job seeker who has not been able to get his resume offline after 6 months of emails to the secondary sites that posted his resume.
Truth #7: The more general the email “job” offer, the less valid it usually is.
So you posted your resume, and now you are getting responses. Be wise and discerning. Not every offer is worth your time. Some job offers are outright scams (see truth #4) and some job offers are just attempts to get you to post your resume on a new job site.
If you get an email that asks you to send a resume to a new email address or to “update” your resume on a new job site, think twice, especially when you do not see a specific, credible job being offered at one specific, verifiable company. One lesson learned from the Biotech Careers resume database fiasco is that some sites may try to get you to send a new resume just so they can put it in their resume database. (See Resume Database Nightmare report < http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/resumedatabasestudy2003.html>.)
Truth #8: Delete does not always mean delete.
Job and resume sites should state that they promise to let you delete your resume whenever you want to, and will only keep your resume for a limited, specific amount of time, such as one to six months, after which the site will delete your resume. Without specific, written statements about how long your resume may be kept, your resume can be archived for years, legally . Most job seekers do not want resumes circulating after they have gotten a job. Before you post a resume, check to make sure you can delete your resume after you have posted it .
A note about resume writing services:
If you plan on using a resume writing service in your job search efforts, get an agreement in writing that the service will not sell or share your resume with any third parties or partners. Unfortunately, this does happen at some resume writing services.
Truth #9: Keeping good records is crucial for online job searching
Be sure to keep a record of where you have posted your resume online. Sometimes, you will not have an email record because you will have posted your resume into a form on a Web site. Print all of these out when you post your resume, and keep copies.
These copies will help you to remember where you have posted, and will allow you to go back and follow up, or delete your resume from the sites where you have posted it after you have finished your job search. And if you run into any problems on a site, the copies will allow you to prove what it is that you posted on the site.
Truth #10: Using a disposable email address can save you from many headaches later on.
It is not a good idea to post a resume openly online. But if you decide to post your resume to a site that does not allow you to mask your identity, then mask it yourself. Use an email address that you can cancel if you start getting spam, and don’t give out your full name, phone number, or home address.
Truth #11: Omit references on your resume if you post it.
When you post a resume online with your references’ names and phone numbers on it, you are giving their information away without their consent in what can be a very public forum. Omit this information, in particular when you put your resume online in any fashion. Be nice to your references: leave them off of your online resumes.
Truth #12: Prevention is better than the cure.
Recourse for Job Seekers
You may file a consumer complaint with the FTC by calling (1-877-FTC-HELP ) or by using the FTC’s online filing system, located at http://www.ftc.gov/ . Click on “File a Complaint Online.”
If you have identity theft problems resulting from your resume posting, you can find helpful information at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse www.privacyrights.org/identity.htm and the Identity Theft Resource Center www.idtheftcenter.org . There, you will find fact sheets and detailed information about specific steps you need to take. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also has guides on SSNs and other workplace privacy issues.
If you discover that you have been the victim of a job scam, it is crucial that you take immediate action to stop any further payment (or shipping) transfers. There is a chance you may have unwittingly committed a crime, for example, if you have transferred money that is stolen, you may have committed wire fraud. Because of this, you will need to take steps to file a police report and make restitution where appropriate. Please see <http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/jobscamtipspayforwarding.html > for detailed tips on how to deal with the aftermath of a job scam. Some job seekers have had serious legal problems, including arrest and indictment, due to job scams.
Pam Dixon is the author of seven books, including the award-winning Job Searching Online for Dummies. Pam Dixon and the World Privacy Forum gratefully acknowledge the Rose Foundation Consumer Privacy Rights Fund, whose financial support made this research possible .