Without sounding rather old, it doesn’t seem very long ago that job hunting was restricted to calling into the Job Centre office, buying the local newspaper, looking in shop windows (very 20th Century I know,) and all the usual speculative approaches that we used to do and still should be doing. Welcome to ‘now’ though, where Job Centres have touch-screen facilities, newspapers are online, companies are accessible from anywhere via their website, although shop windows haven’t changed much.
There are now a plethora of avenues whereby a jobseeker can access job advertisements, recruiters, head-hunters…the list is endless…all on-line! Like any other useful tool though, it is open to exploitation, there are always cyber sharks roaming the waters, always on the look-out for unwary surfers!
Legitimate Job Boards, LinkedIn (and all the other Social Media platforms) are the main hunting ground in this realm, the bait is paid work, but it is often the uninitiated that ends up being the catch-of-the-day, so before you log on, it would be good to be aware of a few basic safety measure and also a few of the scams that are out there and how you can avoid being the subject of a virtual feeding-frenzy!
Protecting Yourself – the First Step!
There is no end to the ingenuity, and length that some will go to in order to make money illegally and often at the expense of those who are just going about their everyday business, trying to earn a crust. I can’t give advice on every scam out there, but if you are reading this and something happened to you or someone you know that is not covered here, please let me know and I will include it.
We have all seen the stories about this…I can only imagine how awful it would be for this to happen, and yet, all too often I get CVs through that contain sensitive, financial or ID related information. I would like to say that ID theft is rare, but my research shows that ID theft is worth about £15Billion per year in the UK alone. So if you are unsure about what you should and should not include on your CV, here is a quick tick list of things to exclude from your CV:
Date of Birth – as well as not wanting to give the recruiter anything to discriminate against, your date of birth is quite a sensitive piece of data. It is often one of the security questions asked of you if you were to call your bank or credit card company….together with your full name, this can be dynamite in the hands of ID thieves. Treat the place of your birth as confidential too.
National Insurance Number – Believe it or not, I have seen this! If anyone asks you for your National Insurance number in an application, it should raise a huge red flag…and ring an alarm bell or two. You should only need to give your National Insurance Number when you get an offer of work – usually after an interview. If you are asked for it before…Check it out with someone who knows…call your local Job Centre, they will probably want to know who is doing this, the company may even be on their radar!
Driving Licence Number – You might be tempted to do this if you work as a driver of some variety and as with your NI number, you will have to show your Driving Licence before you are allowed in a company vehicle…probably at the interview, this is normal and if there is any driving to be done in the job you are going for, then it shouldn’t give cause for concern, but don’t make it easy by including it on your CV and posting it online.
Passport Number – If you are going to work abroad for a UK company, for example, as a holiday rep, then it is prudent on the part of the recruiter to check that your passport is in order and you will be able to get to your destination in time to start work. Same as the Driving Licence though, you should only have to do this if you are invited for interview. Keep it off the CV.
Bank Account details – A candidate may run the risk of appearing supremely confident; scratch that, over-confident…even cocky, if he or she were to include this in their application. Almost as if to say ‘you don’t need to see anyone else, here are my bank details for my first month’s salary.’ If you are asked to give these details or any other financial related data before an offer of work….? You guessed it…circling sharks…sinking boat…check it out first with the Job Centre.
Photograph – If you are a model or actor / actress or entertainer of any kind, then you are likely to have headshots, a portfolio or more commonly, a website with a gallery of images. The point is, it is normal to have a photo in your application for some types of work.
If you are asked for a photo in advance, it may be a cause for concern…there are all kinds of reasons why someone in I.T. for instance, would need to provide a photo. For an I.D. card, to be included on a company website under ‘Meet the Team.’ Never give your photo in advance. The other aspect of this is, unless the photo is professionally taken, it may give the wrong impression of you. I got one CV through with a photo…the person was on a night out!! Totally wrong impression!!
This list is not exhaustive, there could be any number of information you could be asked for in advance that seem a little sensitive, just check out the reasons why it is needed and verify what they tell you with an impartial source… a couple of other mentions you should avoid are Marital Status, number of children and nationality. If you need any advice on this, give me a quick call.
To summarise, keep the details on your CV to relevant only. When posting your CV online, it becomes ‘public domain’ and the details stay public pretty much forever, so it is best to include only basic information like your first name, town, email address (preferably a new Gmail or Yahoo account specifically set up for job hunting…and maybe a mobile number. Even if you remove your CV after an unwise posting, you have no idea of who has done a quick smash and grab ‘copy and paste’ hit on your CV!
You may well be aware of other kinds of phishing scams, but I am afraid that this kind of fraud has infiltrated the world of recruitment. As if it isn’t hard enough looking for work, the last thing you need is to get caught up in this kind of trap.
So what is a Phishing Scam?
We are pretty much conditioned into recognising logos, brands and icons, and it is kind of what you look for to make sure that you are in the right place. Shops, banks and other organisations use certain types of imagery to identify their product, but to anyone with any web-building skill, it is so easy to fabricate a fairly similar, even an exact clone of any website, but just because it looks like the Job Site you always use, doesn’t mean to say that it is authentic.
To give you an example, I am a regular user of Amazon, so I get emails from Amazon, promoting various books, and films that I may like to buy, based on previous purchases. If I see something I like, I don’t open my browser and type https://www.amazon.co.uk in there, I just click the link, usually, the logo at the top of the email.
A few weeks back though, I got what I thought (correctly) was a phishing email that looked like it was from Amazon, but it wasn’t! The email was basically telling me that a £600 TV was about to be dispatched to me…which was odd, because I had purchased no such thing. A pound to a penny, if I clicked the link I would have arrived at a site that looked like Amazon, but would have probably asked me to confirm several things, like my bank card number and other such financially sensitive data…a further check would have revealed the domain name in the URL bar to be nothing like Amazon’s address…I deleted it immediately after checking Amazon’s advice on potential phishing emails.
So to translate this into what we are talking about here, you may get an email from someone claiming to have seen your CV or profile or some other such description on http://www.yourfavouritejobhuntingsite.co.uk – and you have been matched to a job – “Click Here for More.” When you (and please don’t) click, you may arrive at what appears to be your favourite job site, but does the URL address agree with where you think you are? Are you being asked just to ‘verify’ a couple of details in order to see the job.
Be very wary when linking directly from email…just give it a check to make sure you are where you think you are. If you fish for phish…all you will get is Shark!!
There is so much more to this topic, there is a full guide available though, just drop me an email and I will send it over for free…keep safe!!
Dave Smith of Career Visa UK is our leading authority when it comes to personal careers advice.
He has worked in the UK recruitment industry since 1991 and is now an expert Jobsearch Consultant specialising in CV creation and improvement. If you need help in preparing to enter the Job Market for the first time or are planning on a career change – simply get in touch via his website http://www.careervisa.co.uk/. You can also read more at his online blog at http://careervisa.blogspot.com/