Resume Security

There are two sides of the coin surrounding the security aspects of the job hunt.  On one side of the coin we have the individual and the risks which the individual jobseeker is exposed during their job hunt and on the other we have the employer, who is sifting and sorting for the best candidate while also managing the risks of making decisions based on resume content.

The Job Hunter:  

What are your risks?

The resume:  Identity theft comes in many forms, from something as mundane has having your content lifted and used by another person. How can you protect against the identity theft dynamic?  Some items shouldn’t appear on a resume, including your Social Security Number (SSN) or your physical address. A telephone number or an email to a unique, one-off, email should be sufficient for an interested employer to reach out and engage. Only when an offer is to be made or when the interview process has advanced to the background check step should these key identity items be provided.

The job search process:  It is important you know to whom you are sharing your resume and the bonafides of the recruiter or that blind position requirement you see on a job board.  There have been documented cases of individuals with access to Human Resource systems culling through the personnel and applicant files, lifting a sufficient amount of information to craft a parallel identity and then obtaining credit cards and loans under the duplicate persona.  The aforementioned steps will go a long way toward lowering the identity theft risk.

The Employer:  

What are your responsibilities?

The employer is challenged to ensure the candidate is who they claim to be and the information they are providing is accurate. The risk of fraudulent data finding its way onto a resume is not insignificant.  According to a recent survey conducted by HireRight, two out of three employers have encountered an applicant lying on their resume (which may indicate that number is actually higher, as the likelihood of 100% of those engaging in this fraudulent practice being identified is slim).  Reviewing social networks is a low-cost, high return methodology of validating the candidate’s bona fides.  Call references and evolve secondary level references during your due back ground check. And do yourself a favor and use a secure, niche site such as

The employer also must remember to protect their job applicant’s information from various types of exploitation to include – financial identity theft (Loans/credit cards/bank accounts); social security identity theft, a market for social security numbers exists to help document those who are ineligible for social security numbers; and use of an applicant’s identity when confronted by law enforcement.

In sum, if you are looking for your next position, when you are posting or submitting resume, you are placing your information into the hands of anther to protect, take a moment and ensure that you are not giving away too much personal information.  And for those who are accepting resumes, remember you are being entrusted with the personal information of an applicant – protect it.

Additional reading:

Protecting Job Seekers from Identity Theft (IEEE 2006)

Resume Samples

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Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008). He is the founder of