In a perfect world, job seekers would simply need to worry about the task at hand and concentrate all of their efforts on finding their new job. However, this is not a perfect world and distractions exist that can and should divert attention during the job search process. At the top of that particular list is being aware of data privacy while job seeking and taking appropriate steps to mitigate any possible security risks.

don't take data rights as a given

Whether you're in the middle of a job search or simply interacting with friends on social media, sharing information in an often treacherous digital environment can pose several hazards to one's data security. Aside from obvious pitfalls like hackers, spyware, and malware, a person shouldn't assume that their rights to online privacy are as sound and secure as they might think - at least for the time being.

Job seekers, in particular, should be fully aware of the basic protections in place regarding data storage regulations as well as how much information prospective employers can legally obtain on candidates. A number of regulations are already in place to put constraints on what organizations can and cannot do during the recruitment process in the U.S., most of which stem from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

For instance, although it is well within an employer's rights to perform background, credit, and criminal checks to best ensure a candidate has sufficient character and decision-making skills to succeed within an organization, they do not have carte blanche with such checks and must adhere to strict guidelines as set forth by the EEOC and FTC. Job seekers must understand these guidelines in order to protect their own best interests and data privacy.

changes are here

Of course, given the highly segmented nature of the digital landscape, where uniformity between platforms can be a rarity, such a fragmented atmosphere has made data privacy issues tedious to legislate at the corporate level. However, primarily driven by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the European Union, tech corporations ranging from data storage companies to social media channels have had to make necessary changes in order to comply with the legislation.

In essence, GDPR will place control over an individual's personal data within their own hands. Recruiters and employers will need to obtain specific consent in order to gather information from a candidate's online footprint, including stored resumes, social media profiles, and any other sort of digital interaction. It is an effort to significantly increase transparency in data privacy between governments, the private sector, and individuals, and will have a drastic impact on job seekers and employers alike.

Furthermore, although the legislation is specific to the EU, an American firm doing business within any of the 28 countries belonging to the EU must comply with the GDPR or face significant penalties. Therefore, the GDPR will impact American job seekers and employers as well. With the new rules in place, candidates not only have to provide consent for an employer to investigate their digital footprint but are also be able to request the right to be forgotten, essentially wiping the slate clean of any of their personal data that might be stored within an organization's database.

going forward

Between current protection measures from the EEOC and FTC as well as regulations like the GDPR, job seekers should be able to enjoy a degree of data privacy that has never been realized before within the vast and complicated digital environment. However, it is incumbent upon candidates to fully understand what specifically is and is not protected under such measures during their job search, still being prudent with the digital information they choose to share and how it's shared. A modicum of research and wise choices regarding data security can save a significant amount of heartache down the road.


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