I took the advice of someone I had once worked with. She was somewhat aghast when I told her my personal email address, and said I really needed to change it to something more professional - preferably my name. I didn't want to part with my established address, but when I set up a Gmail account I decided to use the closest variation of my name that I could. I also decided that this email address would be used strictly for professional contacts with people who knew or should know my name.
In 2007 I found myself looking for a job, and I set up accounts on CareerBuilder and Monster.com. Both seemed pretty straightforward: upload some information, input a little more information, skip over the screen that's asking me to re-upload my personal information so they could sell me something, press the button, and let the job offers roll in.
Job offers started to roll in. But not the ones I wanted.
The jobs were weird. Represent some foreign company reselling their product in the U.S.; oh, you were a "DVD Asset Manager"? How would you like to be a property manager at an apartment complex? Clear blocked toilets, change locks, fix holes in walls... I started to get the feeling that these job offers were scams, and maybe the sites I had signed up with were part of the scam.
Later I received a call from another group that claimed they had gotten my résumé online. It's a group that you've heard of, one that sells financial planning services, and is a division of a large multinational bank. I attended their meeting, which was part tent revival, part Nuremberg rally, and part cult gathering. The group turned out to be a multi-level marketing deal in which your income would be based on financial services you sell, plus a cut of the sales made by people you recruit, plus a cut of the sales of the people they recruit...but that's another story.
Eventually I went back to work for the company for which I had been working, in a non-salary production line job with a 1/3 pay cut. I jumped at it.
Now I find myself looking again. I'm still signed up with CareerBuilder and Monster.com, plus the Pennsylvania CareerLink. I've also signed up with LinkedIn, and a local job services company, and a company specializing in science-related jobs. (Because, you know, technically I do have a degree in Physics.) In each case I've uploaded my résumé and a buttload of other personal information.
The other day, out of the blue, I received this at my personal email address:
And, like Arsenio Hall used to say, this was one of those things that make you go "Hmm..." Who are these people? How did they get my e-mail address? How did they know I was looking for work? Did I really want to send my name, address, phone number, and detailed work and school history to a company about which I knew nothing?NaturalIndustryJobs.com Career Opportunities Update
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For that matter, what did I know about any of the other companies to whom I have given my information? Other than the fact that I have had to set up special folders for all the spam coming from my CareerBuilder and Monster.com accounts, so my Gmail inbox wouldn't be continuously overflowing? I mean, identity theft used to be a difficult proposition: used to be thieves would actually have to steal this information, rather than just have people hand it to them.
How safe are these companies? Maybe companies like CareerBuilder and Monster and LinkedIn can be trusted with your information - but what what if the companies are sold? Personal data is a valuable resource, and someone might be willing to pay large amounts of money for the stockpiles of data these companies have. And if the companies are sold, would any restrictions exist on how the accumulated personal data might be used?
All that is secondary, though. Right now my primary concern is with getting a job - a job that pays more than I'm currently making in unemployment. Maybe that's worth taking a risk that my entire work history, along with personal information, will fall into the wrong hands.