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Understanding the risks of business networking online

By Brooke Faulkner on 22 Mar, 2019

These days if you aren’t online, you don’t exist in the business world. Online networking has revolutionised how we connect, find employment opportunities, and collaborate with other professionals. However, navigating the online waters can be tricky. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate business connection and someone who wants to steal your identity.

If you aren’t online, you don’t exist

Networking has become an essential part of the job-search process. It’s no longer enough to type up your CV and mail it off to potential leads. It’s all about who you know and who can connect you with decision makers. More than half of all applicants search for jobs online.

The digital world offers job seekers the perfect playground to network and be seen. However, there are some essential dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. You won't get a second chance to make a first impression.

When choosing which social media sites to promote yourself on, be selective. When given the opportunity to connect with someone in your chosen field or company, don’t be pushy. Reach out to connect but don’t overstay your welcome. Always be gracious and thank anyone who you connect with for their time.

Mistakes with your CV

One of the most critical aspects of selling yourself to a potential employer is your CV. Crafting the perfect CV is essential. Many mistakes people make with CVs are poor grammar and spelling, language, copying and pasting of information, and formatting. However, another big one is not keeping your CV safe from prying eyes online.

You may be tempted to post your CV on social media or other employment websites when setting up your profile. Before posting your private work history, employment, and other personal details, do your homework and research the site where it will be posted. You cannot be too careful, and if you post your CV to an unsecured site, it could be at risk. Hackers love unsecured sites.

If your information is stolen, someone could use it to steal your identity, mess with your credit, or gain access to your other accounts. Keep precaution at the forefront of your mind when setting up online profiles and watch out for fraudulent practices.

Using social media carefully when networking

There is no doubt that social media has impacted just about everyone's life to some degree. It has woven its way into many areas of life, including employment. Businesses use social media to attract good employees. It affords them the opportunity to take a free peek into someone’s life before moving forward with the hiring process.

The interconnectedness of social media allows job seekers to connect with people they would never be able to find or reach through traditional methods. Using online networking speeds up the process of finding the right job, connecting with the right people, and moving forward to get hired. These sites can be great tools for both employers and job seekers. However, safety must be a concern.

Be careful about connecting with too many people. When you are contacted by what seems like a great connection, verify them offline to make sure you are talking to the real person. Many social media accounts are copied or faked. Tighten up your privacy settings so that only your connections can see specific information. Limit the details of your work history to summary information. You can always provide the full CV later.

When job searching is your goal, be careful of divulging too much personal information. Some companies have strict rules about social media use. Find out about your company’s acceptable use policy. Don’t over-friend. Remember what you post online will stay there forever. Familiarise yourself on how to block unwanted contacts.

Safety first when job seeking online

Employers ask for a lot of personal information, stuff that hackers would love to acquire and exploit. If you do not feel comfortable filling out an online job application, contact the company and ask if you can fill out a paper version instead and fax or mail it in.

If the site is well secured with an SSL, you can consider using their online portal, but understand the dangers. When deciding, make sure you’re on a legitimate website by typing in the address, and also ensure the URL begins with https. Research the company and ensure their site is not being spoofed or hacked.

Never provide your social security number online. If you are offered a position, the HR department will contact you to procure those details later. Other things to avoid providing are bank details, mother’s maiden name, or other questions that seem odd for an employer to ask.

The internet has given us a powerful tool to find great jobs, connect with employers and colleagues, and secure employment. However, you must exercise extreme caution when using these online resources to keep your information safe and sound.