Looking for work? 5 ways to stay safe when job hunting online

Looking for work? 5 ways to stay safe when job hunting online
SEEK content teamupdated on 23 October, 2023
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With data breaches, scams, and fraud becoming more common, it’s important to know how to stay secure when you’re searching for a job online.

Unfortunately, people target job seekers to try and get their sensitive personal information.

But being aware of these dangers and following a few key tips can help keep you safe.

Renee Allison, Trust and Safety Analyst for SEEK, provides 5 tips for securely navigating the world of online job hunting.

1. Verify email addresses and links

When you communicate with recruiters or potential employers online, always be cautious of the email address they use, and any links they send. Allison says that if something seems not quite right with the grammar or formatting of an email address, it should be a red flag.

“There’s a big difference between chatting with someone using the email address ‘@seek.com.au’ and ‘@seekcom.au’, for example,” she says.

“If you’re in doubt about a link or email sent to you, give the company a call on their public access number. Ask to be put through to the person emailing you so you can independently verify that everything is above board. This way you can confirm the authenticity of both the email address and the link.”

2. Look at whether the job comes from a reliable source (and how real it sounds)

The platform on which a job is posted can be a clear indicator of how trustworthy it is. If you only see a job advertised on social media, for example, be wary. Ask yourself why these jobs wouldn’t be posted on a regular job search site instead.

This is especially the case for jobs that sound to be too good to be true, Allison warns: “Someone posting on Instagram for a work from home data entry role that pays $3000 a week or requesting you leave reviews for a product online for hundreds of dollars in gift cards is very likely dishonest.”

3. Don’t include personal information on your resumé

For most job applications, it’s not necessary to list all your private and personal history. Allison says it’s all too common to see people include private information that they don’t need to share, and that could cause harm in the wrong hands.

“Things like your driver’s license number, passport number, blood type, sensitive medical details, details of your family situation, criminal history – I’ve seen them all on resumés,” says Allison. Should any sensitive information be required to vet you for the job, it can be requested further into the hiring process. You don’t know what the company’s practices are for storing data, so don’t take the risk. If you’re unsure, you can find what constitutes personal information on the Australian Government website.

4. If you’re feeling worried, listen to your gut

If you’re concerned, Allison advises you ask yourself the following questions:

  • "Do they need to know this to progress my application?"
    They might need your contact details when you first apply, but they don't need something like your proof of citizenship until you’re onboarding.
     
  • "Could I provide this information in a safer way?"
    There are specially designed services like Certsy that job seekers can use to securely prove to employers that they have work rights or a license. Options like this can also make the process simpler for the employer.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Whether you’ve got cause for concern or just want to be thorough, it’s always well within your rights to ask questions of the recruiter or company that’s hiring.

“A legitimate company should be able to explain why they need information and how they protect it,” Allison advises. “Raising these questions shows that you are diligent and sensible online to the employer.”

Cheat sheet for what’s safe to share and what’s not

As well as the above tips, Allison provides a quick cheat sheet for knowing what information you can safely provide, and what you should be cautious of:

Safe:

  • Job history
  • Current location (suburb/region will suffice)
  • Contact details
  • Confirmation of licences (for example, requesting to know if you're a registered electrician)

Risky (unless they’re onboarding you):

  • Bank details
  • Tax File Number
  • Scans/photos of identity documents

Massive red flag:

  • Asking for money for "pre-employment checks" or telling you to buy your own work laptop.

It’s important to take care when putting yourself out there online in your job search. Protect yourself by being alert for fraudulent job ads, suspicious links and email addresses and listening to your intuition.

To find out more, head to our guide to safe job searching.

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