How to Stay Safe While Searching for a Job Online

By October 25, 2016 Careers
Online Job Search

Protect Yourself During Your Online Job Search

Online job sites are a great place to start your search for a new career opportunity. They offer an easy and quick way to browse numerous jobs and send your resume to a potential employer. Even though this is a practical way of contacting companies who are looking for employees, it does come with its own share of threats.

When applying for a job online, you are at the risk of being targeted by scammers and hackers who are after your personal data that they would use for nefarious purposes. Some attacks can come in the form of malware that can intercept any sensitive data you might be sending to an employer. Others may pose as employers themselves and try to trick you into believing they want to hire you while they are only interested in extorting money from you.

If you are on the hunt for a new job you need to be wary of the threats and always keep an eye out for signs that you are being targeted by criminals.

Use Computer Security Software

Before sending your first job application or email to a potential employer, all of the devices that you are using to access the internet should be thoroughly protected. This includes comprehensive anti-malware, anti-spyware, and a firewall.

If you plan on using a public Wi-Fi network to apply for new jobs, you should wait to send your personal information until you are home. While home networks are not impenetrable, they are much safer than access points at libraries and coffee shops. Your security software will be your first line of defense against phishing scams, computer locking software, and other digital threats.

Limit Personal Information

A person pretending to be an employer might ask you for a lot of private information prior to employing you. This might include your social security number, birth date, mother’s maiden name, and account numbers. Be careful before you send any sensitive data because employers should never ask for this information through any form of direct messages or emails.

If a reliable employer asks you for such information, they should have an online application form with multiple layers of security that protect themselves and their applicants. Entering personal information into unencrypted forms can result in it being stolen by third parties. The same can happen if you send such information to scammers pretending to be employers. This can result in a stolen identity so think twice and do your research before you decide to disclose such sensitive data.

Be Wary of Unsolicited Emails

Even with modern spam filters, emails are still one of the most effective ways to scam the general public. Many scams use mass email lists to trick recipients into divulging their private information. All it takes is a handful of replies, and the email scam will be seen as a success.

You should be extremely careful about responding to emails offering you a job opportunity. As a general rule, company emails should never come from Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail accounts.

You should also never click on any links unless you are absolutely sure who the email is from. By clicking on suspicious links in emails from unknown senders you can unwillingly download malware to your computer. This can allow hackers to track your personal information.

Make sure you research the company offering you a job via email. Don’t hesitate to call them if you find their information online. They could be pretending to be a legitimate company by using their contact information.

Be Wary of Requests for Money

Some scammers posing as employers will ask you for payments in order to work for them.  They can also require you to first purchase certain software from their company before employing you.

A legitimate company will never ask you for any kind of payment prior to offering you a position with them. Whenever a company’s representative asks you for money, it should be an immediate red flag that their business is most likely a scam.

Whatever the reason may be for asking about your credit card or payment information, never disclose such information unless you are absolutely sure they are a legitimate company.

Avoid Work-at-Home Scams

In this day and age, many thriving businesses hire employees to fill remote positions from home. Due to the rising popularity of telecommuting, it can be quite difficult to tell when a work-at-home position is a scam and when it is a legitimate offer. Do some research on the topic so you can avoid listings such as envelope stuffing or craft assembly which are well-known work-at-home scams.

You should be skeptical of any promises that you will make a large amount of money for little work. You might also want to avoid job listings that guarantee great pay without knowing any skills or trades. If a company begins to make those kinds of offers, then you need to do some additional research to find out what the Better Business Bureau and ex-employees say about them.

Too Good to Be True?

Scam artists know that job hunters are driven to find new careers, and they often throw caution to the wind when applying for jobs. Positions that seem too good to be true generally are, and it is important to listen to your instincts when something doesn’t seem right.

If an employer asks you for unusual information or isn’t clear about what the job entails, then you should proceed with caution or sever ties immediately. In many cases, they will continue pushing with ongoing calls and emails to try to get the last bit of personal information from you.

Final Word

Online job listing sites and forums can be incredible tools for job hunters, but there are risks around every corner. Your personal information needs to be closely guarded at all times and you can never be too careful when it comes to matters of online security. All it takes is a single mistake and your personal data could be used against you. With a little caution, however, you can be sure that your information is only seen by the correct parties.



About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

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