How to stay safe online
I read hundreds of CVs every month and am becoming increasingly concerned by the amount of personal data on them. As part of my role as a recruiter, I also search CV banks online where candidates have uploaded their CVs to job boards, yet many of these also contain information that could potentially be stolen and used for identity fraud.
There is not a day goes by when there's not a TV programme or article in the press with horror stories of how people didn't stay safe online. Fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated with their scams, so it's understandable that many get duped.
So how do you stay safe online while job seeking?
When sending your CV to a recruiter or bona fide organisation, including your address is fine. If, however, you are uploading your CV to a job board or sending it to someone you are not familiar with, you should remove your address.
Just add the town or postcode. That will be enough for the reader to establish the area in which you live.
A few years ago, there was a scam in the UK where applicants received a call to go to a job interview. A few questions were asked during the initial telephone call to ascertain whether or not the candidate lived alone or if their home would be empty. Yes, you've guessed it – during the fake job interview, the candidate's had their homes burgled.
National Insurance/ Personal Security Number
I would say that probably 1 in 10 CVs I view online contain this information. There really is no need. Employers only need this information when you start working for them.
Passport/ visa details
Again, no need. Even if you are applying for an international role, the employer won't need this information until you start.
A recruitment agency will ask you to provide this information as proof of identity and your right to work in the country, BUT you should only provide the details when they have offered you work. You are absolutely within your rights to refuse the filing of your personal information until there is an offer on the table. You do not need to provide your passport or visa just to register as there is no guarantee of work.
It is more important that you stay safe online than speeding up the agencies admin process.
Always ask for details of where they plan to store your information and their security policy. A good recruiter will understand your concerns. A bad one will be sketchy and insist that they need your personal details for consideration. If this is the case and you feel uneasy – walk away!
Employers in the UK are legally required to view the original documents and take copies otherwise they will receive a hefty fine or even imprisonment. If you are starting temporary work for a recruitment agency, they are your employer so will need proof of your right to work.
You can read the legal requirements on the Gov.uk website.
Keep these off your CV to stay safe online. Both are personal details and not required.
Even during the job interview process, the interviewer is not allowed to ask personal questions. Read why here.
Certification or licence numbers
I see this a lot. Don't include driving licence numbers or any details about qualifications or membership numbers. If you want to stay safe online, anything that can be looked up by a fraudster to steal your identity is a no-no.
You should never, ever include anyone else's address, email or telephone number when uploading your CV online.
Employers only need referee details when they make you a formal job offer and not before. You don't need to put ‘references available upon request' either. That's just a waste of space that you could use for something else.
Remove anything that shows your availability or whereabouts. Often, I see on CVs and cover letters uploaded online that the candidate is not available on Thursday evenings because they play football, or they can't answer calls during school run times. Giving details of your availability is risky. Just like I described earlier, if a fraudster knows you are out, there's a possibility of burglary.
Stay safe online
Keep any personal details that may fall into the wrong hands off your CV when uploading it online. If in doubt, leave it out and trust your gut instincts.