Staying safe online in your job search


Who’s been using my phone? by Chris Isherwood. Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As with most things, job hunting these days is largely done online.  Whilst the connectedness and ease of finding information online is undoubtedly useful, care is needed with how you approach your online job search.

There are many career-related advantages to living in such a connected World and we talk a lot about the ways social media and other online platforms can help you; from networking, to exploring career ideas, to developing your own professional presence, among many others.

As with most things, there is also a potential flip-side.  With recent reports mentioning a huge increase in the number of job related scams, and that many of these target students and graduates particularly, we thought some advice on things to be aware of is timely.

Job scams

Generally, the rule of thumb is that if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  This is certainly the case for jobs: Getting offers out of the blue, roles promising high salaries for little work, correspondence coming from personal e-mail addresses, or anything asking for money or bank details, should all be viewed sceptically. Action Fraud has some great, easy-to-follow advice on what to look out for and how to avoid some of the most common job-related scams in this article.

Be careful with your personal information

It’s not just job-related scams that you need to be aware of. Identity theft is a growing problem, and most of this is now carried out online.  This in particular is an area where you should be careful about what you share on your social networks.  Remember that anything you post online is potentially ‘discoverable’, even if you think it is only visible to your friends or contacts.  Social networks are some of the most easy-to-find sites and it is quite easy for someone to piece together key information about you from various different sites.

This video from CIFAS shows just how easy it is to find out a lot of personal information with just your name.

  • Don’t list personal information, such as date of birth,  address, national insurance, passport or driving license number anywhere online.
  • If uploading your CV to job sites or similar, be careful about the information you include (see previous bullet point).

Be careful who you connect with

This is less of a problem if you are careful about what kind of information you share on your networks, but still worth being aware of some best practice.  A Leeds student recently alerted us to a suspicious LinkedIn account which had requested to connect with them, and was purportedly someone working at a large blue-chip company.  The student noticed that this account was connecting with 100s of new people (mostly students and graduates) in a very short space of time and luckily reported it to us and to LinkedIn, who investigated and closed the account.

What to look out for:

  • Approach requests to connect (on LinkedIn or any other network) from those you don’t know, with caution
  • Be particularly suspicious of any requests where there is no obvious connection on platforms like LinkedIn; for example if they’re not obviously involved in student or graduate recruitment.
  • Be wary of basic or incomplete profiles.
  • You can try ‘Googling’ the person in question, and see what other information you can find about them.  For example, if they are employed where they say the are etc.
  • If in any doubt, don’t connect.

Further resources & help

  • SAFER-Jobs – Lots of great advice on what to look out for and the ability to report any potential incidents.
  • – website from CIFAS on how to protect yourself from identity fraud.

Remember, we are here to help you with all things career-related.  If you are suspicious of something in your job search, or want to discuss any other career-related concerns, come and talk to us.


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Filed under Advice, Job Market, Networking

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