Privacy and Your Job Search

Privacy is a huge topic these days, including with regard to job searching. One of the big questions seems to be whether it’s even possible for you to have privacy when conducting a job search.

Of course, this is a larger issue than just when an active job search is involved. However, some of the articles and news items I’ve been reading indicate that its application to job searching is becoming more troublesome–even challenging–all the time.

Is there privacy in a job search?

Perhaps a better question would be, how close to job search privacy can you get? I’ve had executive clients who were conducting a highly confidential job search, and at least a few of them avoided doing much, if anything, on LinkedIn because of fear that the wrong people might become aware of what they were engaged in.

That might be a very valid fear, and I certainly don’t want to seem as if I’m treating it too lightly. If you’re in that kind of situation, you have to do what your thoughtful assessment of the circumstances tells you is wise.

At the same time, the more you restrict your job search visibility (or try to), the bigger the challenge you face in getting the word out to the “right” people. In other words, you’ve made more work for yourself by excluding certain tools and have to step-up to that task with determination if you hope to succeed.

Forfeiting privacy in a job search–or elsewhere

It’s no secret that we live in an age when floods of information are available at the click of a computer mouse. Whether data is legitimately available about you or is released unintentionally or maliciously, the result is the same. Determined people can find out a lot about you that you might prefer they not know, and the problem seems to keep growing.

To some extent, we’ve given up our “right” to privacy by opting in to the information age, with all its whiz-bang technology and other aspects. What used to take real determination to find (if it could be found at all) has now become disturbingly easy for many people. Unless you somehow manage to stay “off the grid” by some miracle (I don’t know anyone who has), you’re going to encounter this challenge.

What should you do about your privacy?

There’s no easy or completely satisfying answer. I suspect that the closest you can come to a solution is to act in a way that’s as sensible as possible–for instance, not putting information online about yourself that might be misused or misinterpreted. Use the Internet–LinkedIn, etc.–but not in a reckless fashion.

Assume that someone you don’t know or don’t want to make aware of your present activities might see the material you post online; then proceed with appropriate caution. If you’re in a confidential job search, do as much as possible offline and conduct your online involvement carefully. If your search isn’t so confidential or you’re not even currently in an active job search, adjust your participation accordingly.

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