Maintaining a semblance of privacy while looking for a job

How to protect your data online while looking for a job.

Or: How to generally protect yourself from people like me stalking you down.

There is no escape. Unless you do all this stuff.

I want to preface all of this by speaking a bit about You, Your Personality, and Company Culture. If all the shit you have hanging out there online is stuff you’re cool with representing you and you’re cool with some random HR person / recruiter / Manager saying “I don’t want to hire this person because of $thing” then leave it there. Being comfortable where you work is hugely important.

If you post on Twitter about topics important to you and someone is going to refuse to hire you because of it, then they can suck it. However, you need to weigh up, for yourself, if it is worth it. For some people, getting a new job might be paramount and they might not have the privilege of missing out on an opportunity because of their online footprint. So don’t judge someone else for wiping themselves off the face of the internet either. Feeding their family or getting a foot in the door of their dream industry might be more important than a few sassy posts on Medium!

The second point is that applying for a job or putting yourself out there on the job market in some way is going to come with some loss of privacy. If you can get a job by saying “You don’t know me but I’m totally awesome at … stuff I won’t tell you about…” then .. well, more power to you, I guess. You do not need this advice. For everyone else … even assassins need some kind of demonstrable job history. I mean, the hot word in recruitment conferences (yes, they exist) is that CV’s are on the way out but no one can figure out what to replace them with so for now we’re stuck with them.

The totally obvious stuff. Google yourself.

Not just your name but your name and home city. Your name and each company you’ve worked for. See what comes up. Ideally, it’s going to be just your LinkedIn profile and then maybe the staff pages of a few of your companies. Maybe some conference speaker pages. Possibly your Twitter.

Your online handles

If your twitter account has your real name on it and your twitter handle is the same as your handle on other sites, check to see what’s up there. First of all, if your Twitter handle is TitsMcGee, that’s one problem and second of all, if your Twitter handle matches to your Steam account where you have played 2000 hours of Hatoful Boyfriend, that might be more information than you want released at the start of a job hunting process. I fully support you and any digital pigeon based relationships you want to pursue but ya know, other people might get a bit judgmental. Lots of people use the same handle everywhere - this means you can be found everywhere. (Like, I've often found people from plugging their Twitter handle into Github and ping there is their GitHub account. As previously observed, it's easy to get an email address out of GitHub!)

Reverse image search your photo on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.

SO MANY PEOPLE use the same picture everywhere. I’ve used people’s photo on LinkedIn to lead me to their Twitter, the Twitter handle leads me to their GitHub, which gives me their email address (and most of the rest of their online footprint but it’s the email address I’m after). I totally get it - I have only one photo of me that has ever looked good in my entire life so I try to use it for all professional purposes too. Just be aware how it can be used.  

PLEASE PLEASE stop putting so much personal info on your CV

I’ve seen people provide marital status, nationality, Passport number, gender, height, hair colour, weight, number of children, occupation of spouse(!!), blood type, and PPS number (that’s social security for Americans and people who speak American), their photo. Just please don’t do it.

Not only does no one need to know it and it's info that could be used to hella steal your identify but it also puts you in danger of running up against unconscious (or conscious) biases. Equality and diversity in hiring is consistently a hot topic - giving people the tools to avoid you is not the way to increase diversity. (This is a whole other, two pint, rant)

There’s some argument for nationality because visa issues crop up but it’s much better to write your actual work permit status for the relevant country than your nationality.Most of the rest, there are some cultural norms from different countries at play so if you know that in your specific country, you need to include the colour of your socks to get an interview then … I guess, put it down? (Then email and tell me those cultural norms, I’m honestly interested to learn)

Don’t Put Your Full Mailing Address On Your Cv.

It isn’t 1990 any more. You’re 100% applying to this job online. If you are not, I don’t know why you are reading this because you’re probably, like, a fur trapper from 1887 or someone from the Wolf of Wall Street. “But evilrecruiter, I met someone at a conference! That’s not applying online!!” Yeah, but they told you to email them your CV, so suck it. Your full address is not required. Stick to a city and country and maybe a vague area. Dublin 6. Bromley. Enough for the person reading it to figure out if the location of the job is an insane commute or next door to the office.

We do not need to know enough to come around to your house and slowly post job specs through your letterbox until you agree to take one of our many exciting opportunities. I would never do this. But I could. Because I know where you live. (It’s also really funny when I get rude or insulting emails from people when I do literally know where they live. Like, think it through…)  

Use a "job" email address.

We’re sure everyone knows not to use an email address from your angsty youth for job applications at this stage and thankfully, we don’t often see a CV from $ However, googling someone’s email address can often bring up really interesting things! I find old mailing lists (actually these are often boring rants about hackerspaces or linux kernel or something), old abandoned twitter accounts which you used to complain about your ex, all kinds of stuff. Any information like that might not be something you want shared with a potential employer or just shared in general.

If you have an email address only used for applications, you also funnel “job stuff” into one account. If you’re worried that you’ll just forget to check it, forward everything to your default account. This is also a handy way to check to see how a recruiter got your email address. If they scraped it from somewhere, it might not be your Official Job Email. If you get an email to $, then you know to ask “ did you get this email?”  

Don’t Include A Phone Number Upfront.

Make them work for a phone number. I think, in the last 4 years, I’ve called about 5 people who were 1) able to speak to me immediately 2) not being shirty with me because I randomly called them in the middle of a stand-up 3) capable of talking about their experience in a coherent way. I was recruiter-trained to Always Call. Phone First (I should get that on a hat). I always hated it though - who on earth is able to give a balanced opinion about a job when someone just phones and is like “aaaahhhhhhhh python developer in city centre ahhhhhhh”. I had my own experience of this when I was job hunting. Even though my number was up on LinkedIn and I was actively looking, people phoning me at work hacked me right off.  Give over the number when you’ve set up a call and you’re happy to know what the topic of the call is. “Call at 12 tomorrow about that there job as a Emu Breeder in Offaly.”

Do not include your reference's contact details please.

As I’ve mentioned before, don’t include the contact details of your references. I know it seems easy to get that info down before you’re asked but you want to maintain control of that information. You want to know when they are called so that you can give them a heads up. You also shouldn’t expose their personal information - recruiters use that contact info to get in touch with senior managers in other companies to hit them up for business. I mean, we have their phone number, email address, name, and job title, and we know that someone from their team is leaving...

Remove the licence info from your CV if you're using MS Word

If you’re using MS Word, your personal info is saved automatically in the properties of the document. Go into Options in Word >> Check for Issues >> Inspect Document and hit Inspect. You’ll see a list of things and you’ll read that Document Properties and Personal Information has found something. Click remove all and it’ll remove any personal data about the licence owner of your copy of MS Office from the upcoming PDF.  

Obviously, use a PDF CV.

You’ll 100% be familiar with recruiters asking you for your CV in Word format. It’s because we want to remove your contact details (so the client can’t contact you directly) and/or make other edits. That’s a whole other blog tho… Save in PDF, make them ask for the Word version. I’m not sorry about saying this because if you have a copy of MS Office, you can open PDFs by right clicking on the file and clicking “open in Word” or in Google Docs by clicking “Open with Google Docs”. This can totally mess up the formatting sometimes but usually it does the job, (However, if I make major formatting changes, I notify my candidates. Inb4 1000 angry emails)  

Totally mess with recruiters by setting a password on your CV

This is horrible... for recruiters. To prevent text from being copied and to prevent the file from being opened in any other format.Recruiters and HR will probably hate you. Hiring managers might think you’re a loon. But like, in infosec fields, they’d probably love it. (I know I would) With the password, the end user can open the file to read it but can’t edit it. BAMBOOZLED. For realz though, don’t do this to me, I like to add my company’s logo to the top of CV’s so we look real professional and stuff…

Basically, this is a not very well ordered list on how the information released during a job hunt can be used to dork you up and down the internet.

Looking for a job is putting yourself out there and honestly, 99% of recruiters are FAR too lazy to stalk up your info online. I'm personally too lazy to do it unless I'm feeling particularly desperate/thirsty about a role. (Where my Erlang developers at?!)

We just want to know 1) Your skillz 2) Do you want a new job? 3) How much money you want? 4) Do you actually want a new job or are you just tire kicking because I SWEAR if you’re messing with me, I’mma going to cry.