The Online Safety and Privacy Dilemma in Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on September 14, 2015


Understandably, many job seekers struggle with putting themselves “out there” when they’re building their online footprint by using social media.


This becomes a sticky issue . . . whether or not they must keep their search confidential because they’re currently employed.

On one hand, they need to have a strong, diverse online presence to be “find-able”, to promote their personal brand, and to provide social proof of the claims they’ve made in their personal marketing materials (LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, etc.).

Executive recruiters and hiring decision makers source candidates online, via LinkedIn mostly, but also elsewhere.

On the other hand, job seekers need to be careful about what they put out there. Their information will be prey to nefarious people, as well as legitimate people.

So it’s easy for job seekers to confuse controlled online presence-building with haphazard blasting of personal information online.

Think Twice Before Using Job Boards

Job boards can yield dismal results, especially for c-suite and high-level executives. Networking is still the best method.

And job boards can leave you wide open to scammers and identity theft. Scam job listings abound, designed to cull personal information from unsuspecting, and sometimes desperate, job seekers.

Applications on these sites sometimes require you to provide very sensitive personal information.

If scammers and identity thieves have gotten hold of your social security number, they can easily piece together all they’ll need to steal your identity if they find your birthdate and/or phone number and/or home address somewhere online.

True, your address may be very easy to find with a simple Google search of your name. But providing further tidbits just makes it easier for bad people to harm you.

All the more reason to invest your time in the best way to land a good-fit job – targeting and research, followed by networking your way into those target employers.

If you’re going to use job boards, Susan P. Joyce, an online job search guru, has written plenty about using them safely.

Conversely, you don’t want to keep your job search so private that you have no online presence.

How to Run a (Relatively) Cyber-Safe Job Search

To build an online presence, you need to have a social media strategy. When creating profiles for these sites, you may be asked compromising questions. Never provide the following information in emails or anywhere online that may not be absolutely secure:

  • Birthdate – if you can’t join an important social networking site without providing this, make one up, using a different month, day, and year.
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card information
  • PayPal account number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Spouse’s name
  • Home address
  • Town where you were born

In most cases, you should not provide any of this information to employers until you have accepted a job offer.

Further Tips and Advice to Safeguard Your Privacy

LinkedIn allows you to upload your resume to your profile. Don’t put any of the above sensitive information on it.

Set up a designated email account for your job search. Don’t make the mistake of using your work email, especially if you’re job-hunting undercover.

If you use Facebook and other social media for personal conversations and to post personal photos, set up a separate account, with a different account name than the one you’ll use for job search.

Self-Google regularly to monitor your online presence, and clean up any digital dirt or compromising information, if possible.

More Information about Executive Job Search and Online Presence

10 Steps to Executive Job Search Success

10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online

The New 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet

Social Proof: Where Online Presence Meets Personal Branding

Can You Avoid the Executive Resume Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Vortex?

How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Impacts Executive Job Search

Why You Need to Self-Google Once a Week


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