Candidate Security, in a Post Cambridge Analytica World

Individuals in society are, by and large, right to be worried about how their personal data is used on the internet.

This issue has risen to increased prominence in recent times due to concerns around Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and other large scale data holders. But even before these activities came to light it's arguably became common knowledge - or at least more common than previously - that sharing one's personal and private information online can be a recipe for personal and professional disaster. People almost instinctively know that giving out their email address to strangers is not a great idea. Likewise, one's phone number, home address, age, ethnicity or employment, all of which carry risk of everything from harassment, to identity theft.

One area in which we haven't quite caught up however is the job application process: in this area, almost alone in modern life, the impetus is the opposite. In other words, if we are desperate for a job, we will stop at nothing to get our details in front of every relevant opportunity we can find. We give up everything in a flood of too much information before we've even had the chance to talk to the employer about the position on offer, or learn if they are interested in speaking to us.

 

Indeed, even if we see the folly in forwarding our sensitive information to everyone we've ever met - and indeed everyone we haven't met also - we have little choice: there is no other way. Added to this, the sheer mathematics of the situation mean our data is out there in enormous scale: with the average job receiving 100-200 applications, and interviewing just 5, unless we are incredibly lucky we are going to need to apply, on average, for tens if not hundreds of jobs before succeeding.

As candidates, we do not know who views our information, where it is stored, or how it is used. We do not know if the data is held just by the company, or by external vendors they use as third parties to manage their databases. We place ourselves at risk, with potentially multiple points of failure, of our details being stolen if even one of these intermediaries has their data hacked or stolen - or if they merely unscrupulously share it with further third parties for profit.

At Covocate we've heard from a number of candidates in recent years who have complained of being added to mailing lists and databases, having done nothing more than apply for jobs.

We do not think this is sustainable in the modern information driven world.

And, we're doing something about it - in a way that will flip recruitment on its head even outside our walled garden.