Evaluating Website Privacy Polices
"It's a tough job market out there. Protecting my privacy is a luxury I can't afford right now." WRONG!
Resumes are a valuable, highly sought-after commodity. Protect your privacy by protecting your resume (or "profile"). Be very choosy about where you leave your resume. It could save the job you have now and in the future. Choosing a Job Site is a section of Job-Hunt that should help you make the best possible web job site choices. The Internet Resume section should help you with your resume.
Whenever you find one of the privacy organizations' seals on a site, be sure to click on it to verify that it is real. Scammy/scummy sites may display privacy seals that they are not authorized to display. It's easy to verify whether or not the seal is authorized, but you MUST click on the seal to do it.
That seal should be linked to a page on the seal organization's Website which specifically names the sits which displayed the seal, and states that the linked site is entitled to post the seal because they comply with the program. If the link takes you to the seal organization's home page, another page of the seal organization's site which does not name the originating site, or to an error page, the link is not genuine, and the site which displays it is NOT to be trusted!
Note: A TRUSTe or BBBOnline logo does not guarantee that a site will protect your privacy! It does means that they disclose their true practices to you, and offer a reliable method of "opting out" of their system.
In light of a report by Pam Dixon (Sept. 5, 2001) for the Privacy Foundation, which seems to indicate practices of industry giant Monster.com were counter to Monster's own posted Privacy Commitment, the need for a trusted third party audit services is obvious. Unfortunately, few Web job sites use them now. Over time, we believe that will change and sites will be more open about, and more accountable for, what they do with your data, although it will take time, consumer education, and, perhaps, new laws.
Some sites show a green "TRUSTe" logo, indicating that they have joined the Trust-E organization and comply with the TRUSTe program's requirements. Be sure to click on the Trust-E logo (or go to the site -- http://www.truste.org) to verify that the Web site is authorized to use the logo.
BBBOnline (Privacy) is a similar service from the Better Business Bureau, which is a much older organization. Again, click on the BBBOnline logo posted on the job site to verify the Web site's participation in the BBB program.
- What information
will the Web site collect?
They should indicate the information that they will be collecting, particularly the "individually identifiable information" like your name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, etc.
- To whom
will the site disclose (or "share") information about
It is not uncommon for Web sites to gather and "aggregate" (combine anonymous data) information about their visitors to help them manage their Web site (e.g. which browsers are being used? what monitor resolution dominates? etc.). This information is useful in the aggregate only, and relatively harmless to you personally.
However, you will probably disclose a great deal of "individually identifiable" information (address, education, experience, job level, career goals, etc.) about yourself in the course of applying for a job. That information could be very useful to a third party trying to sell you something. Web sites that have such information can easily find a market where someone wants to purchase it.
- Will they
sell the information that they collect?
If you don't like to receive unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail (also known as "spam") and the site policy tells you that they are selling contact information and/or e-mail addresses, this should send up all kinds of red flags!
Evaluate the privacy vs. SPAM tradeoff, and see if there is another site the can offer the same level of service without selling your information.
If you believe that this is the only site for you to use, you should establish a special e-mail account for this site (i.e. a Yahoo.com or HotMail.com, etc. account) and disguise (or leave out) as much contact information as you can. Just remember to access the new e-mail account on a regular basis in case a potential employer tries to reach you through it.
Who's got the cookies?
In most cases, cookies are harmless. For example, cookies are used to keep track of how often you visit (information usually aggregated with others as a measure of site effectiveness), what advertisers you visited from the site (so that the web site owner can get compensated for "sending" you to the advertiser's Web site, if/when you go there), what pages you viewed at the Web site (helps the Web site owner improve the site), what products you purchased (cookies make the "shopping cart" work), etc. Many sites cannot work without cookies!
- Opt Out?
They should provide their contact information, or at least an e-mail address, so that can you "opt out" of participation in whatever they provide. For e-mailed newsletters, this would be the address you contact to "un-subscribe" from the newsletter.
issues with Privacy Policies:
Obviously, this is an area of cyberspace that is still under development. The legal system is catching up and most commercial Web site owners understand the necessity of having a "trusted" environment, so we are headed in the right direction.
Don't be discouraged; just be careful.
Choosing a Job Site can be tough, and should be approached carefully. Read this section of Job-Hunt.Org before you start posting your resume at any job sites.
© Copyright, 1998 - 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.