Whether you are just starting to get into the workforce, on the hunt after getting laid off or just hoping to move up in the world, the internet is a great place for your career as long as you know what you are doing. After you get your online image cleaned up and your contacts and resumes updated, you will be ready to start searching every corner of the internet for new and exciting opportunities. Working from home is an especially viable option now that more companies are opting to offer remote work and freelancing opportunities.
Yet there are dangers and opportunists lurking on-line for job hunters, especially for women who have to deal with more harassment and lower starting offers. Scams are quite common, and the anonymity inherent on the internet makes it harder to tell the legitimate offers from the sleazy ones until you have wasted far too much time and have potentially put yourself or your private information in danger. The internet is a necessary evil sometimes, but you can learn how to protect yourself and separate the gold from the chaff.
Here are a few ways to protect your data and avoid issues while you look for jobs on-line:
Only Use Top Websites
I have never heard of anyone getting a seriously good job (or even an offer) off of Craigslist or similar website. Any professional company is not going to bother with it to the exclusion of every other option, and you would not believe some of the shady stuff that is attempted on certain boards. Remember that anyone you would want to work for is hoping to find the best candidate, which means they will cast their net into the best pools and avoid the swamps of the internet. Only use websites that are commonly used and acclaimed by legitimate sources. A quick search will not necessary yield what is best today, and any insignificant websites should be treated with caution. Not only will you find difficulty landing a job on them, they probably are not as well-regulated. Industry specific websites should also be met with suspicion unless you receive a personal recommendation about one from someone who has gotten a job from it.
If you are not sure where to go, here are some safe options:
If you are a freelancer, you might want to start with Up-work.
It can take a while to build a realistic clientele, but it casts the widest (if not the best) net over available freelance work.
Guru is another great option for freelancers that is often used and has some great features to ensure trust between the worker and employer.
Strange as it might sound, your network will probably not knowingly send you a scam or a red herring if you know good people. Reaching out to your network is a great and safe first step for any job hunter.
Learn to Spot Scams
Next to ads and irrelevant content, scams are the most common thing you will find on the internet. They come in many different forms and are cleverer than you might think.
Be on the lookout for the following:
Any posting where the company is not clear about what it does or what the exact position is. You should be similarly suspicious of any group or person who asks you to do something different from what was placed in the post.
- Any posting by an anonymous individual, especially if there is no corporate tag attached to it. It simply does not make any sense unless suspicious activities were planned.
- Any job advertisement that talks about the massive amounts of money you can make before anything else.
These postings are obviously trying to prey upon the lazy or the desperate, and you can afford to be neither.
If suspicious links are in the post, they probably lead to malware. Just about all the information you need should be on the page you are looking at.
Guard Your Private Information Well
You will eventually need to divulge personal information in order to land a job. There is no way around this fact, and in most cases, your information is treated well by professionals. There is also a proper time for this information to be shared, and someone asking for your Social Security number in the first message they send to you is not someone you want to be working with. Unless you are filling out an application with a corporation and a pre-created system, you should be talking with people and sending in a basic resume before anything else.
Even when a company looks legitimate, take a few minutes to get to know what it stands for first. Learn about their hiring practices (any company of sufficient size will have information available or information written about them) and how the process went for other people. If you search on the best websites, this information will be directly available to you. Do not let fear of not getting a job or a missed opportunity let you make poor decisions when it comes to information security. Data breaches occur often, and even applicants are not safe from hackers.
Know the Advantages of Anonymity
This has been stressed previously in this article, but the anonymity the internet provides is what separates it from job fairs and other channels. It allows for people to think they can be unethical and get away with it. Even pretending to be an actual employer is within the realm of possibility. If you can get inside other people’s heads, it can help mitigate the effects and threats this poses to you. Ask yourself whether an offer seems reasonable from both sides and what a person could stand to gain from an otherwise “too good to be true” post. Do not be afraid to play anonymous yourself when you are searching on-line. You should never submit false information, but you absolutely do not need to shout your identity and information to the world when you are hunting for a job. Anonymous forums and boards for job hunters offer protections to those who have questions employers might not like, and you can seek advice without any judgement or damage to your reputation.
If you use a solid Virtual Private Network along with your other security tools, you can even avoid any potential tracking and data interception.
Job hunts are difficult enough in the current market, so you do not need to deal with identity theft or scammer’s on top of your search. Remember to be constantly suspicious about what you find on-line and double check anything that seems too easy. It is common to find new opportunities on-line, but few people find anything truly amazing in the first few hours of their search.
Do you have any interesting experiences of your own looking for jobs on-line?
Have you run into any problems or dangerous encounters that you would like to warn people about?
Are there any other tips you want to share with your fellow readers?
If you do, please leave a reply below and keep the conversation going.
About the Author:
Cassie Phillips is an internet security professional and writer working on behalf of Secure Thoughts, a website designed to bring security information to the masses and give people tips on tools they can use. She is delighted to share this important information with as many job seekers as possible.