Resume Security: Safeguard Your Contact Information
Career and security experts explain how to market yourself while protecting your online privacy and security.
Audit Your Contact Information
If the email address you use to log in to Facebook, Flickr and other social media sites is the same one that appears on your resume, employers can use that address to look up your social media profiles. If you haven’t strengthened your privacy settings on these sites, employers may be able to see personal information and photos you wouldn’t want to share.
Kristen Jacoway, principal of Career Design Coach and coauthor of I’m in a Job Search -- Now What???, advises her clients to set up an email address just for job search correspondence. “Having a dedicated email will not only help protect your privacy, but also will help organize your job search by giving you a central repository for company and recruiter contacts.”
She also suggests using a service such as Google Voice so you don’t have to publish your home or cell number. “Your Google Voice number will ring to the phone number that you select,” says Jacoway, enabling employers to reach you easily.
Should your resume include an actual street address? Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered, a Chicago-based career-coaching firm, has heard from hundreds of recruiters and job seekers on this issue. “Most candidates expressed fear of identity theft, while most employers and recruiters said that they discard resumes without addresses,” he says. Rosenberg suggests that there is so much personal information readily available that including your address doesn't add significant risk. “If you have an outside mailbox, that’s the biggest identity theft risk today -- through theft of snail mail,” he says.
Chandlee Bryan, career-management strategist at New York City-based Best Fit Forward and co-author of The Twitter Job Search Guide, recommends being more cautious about including an address when posting resumes online. “If you are trying to demonstrate that you are location-friendly to a region, list a city and state only,” she says. Jacoway says another way to avoid listing a mailing address is to set up a PO box.
On Monster, you can change your resume privacy settings to "visible and limited," which will hide your contact information but keep your online resume searchable.
Manage Your Online Identity
Realistically, we have very little online privacy today. “If you have a land line, own real estate or vote, your personal information can be found online,” Rosenberg says.
Ron Bowes, a security expert and owner of Winnipeg, Manitoba-based security consulting company Dash9 Security, made international headlines when he downloaded and published a list of 170 million names and URLs of Facebook users. Even though he showed how online data can be harvested on a large scale, Bowes doesn’t recommend withholding contact information from your resume. “It's more important to manage your online identity than to hide it,” he says.
Bowes learned long ago not to use your real name anywhere that you wouldn’t want the world to see. “If people are using Facebook as a casual site, and have potentially embarrassing pictures and information posted, they shouldn't be using their real names or any information that could link the profile back to themselves,” he says.
Employers accessing your profile on a social media site may see information that can jeopardize a job offer. “I’ve seen many inappropriate pictures, including a woman drinking whiskey out of a bottle in the back of a limo, and you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see that,” says Shauna Bryce, a Certified Professional Resume Writer and principal of Bryce Legal Career Counsel in Riva, Maryland. Bryce, who works primarily with attorneys, advises job seekers to actively manage their online image. “Law firms are concerned with your image as much as your job qualifications,” she says. “They want to see that you use good judgment.”
If your online identity is already tainted, start flooding the Internet with more positive information so undesirable pages are pushed lower in search results. “Take control of your online image to the extent you can, knowing that it can never be completely private if it’s associated with your name,” Bryce says.
A good rule of thumb: “Don't post anything you wouldn't want your boss -- or mom -- to see,” Rosenberg says.