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Resume Privacy

(August 24, 2007) Resumes contain pretty important information. In much of the rest of the world, the regulations covering ownership and distribution of the information in a cv or resume is very tightly controlled. Making sense of the maze of strong protections that vary from country to country is the barrier to entry for global Applicant Tracking companies.

The cultural view seems to align with the local legal views.

So, while the recent theft of 1.6 million resumes from Monster got limited news visibility here in the States, it was a big story elsewhere. One more example of the cavalier Yanks fussing about security in one breath and dismissing it in another. Of 22 news articles caught by Google on the subject, 60% were international.

Cheezhead is doing his usual Paul Revere routine, alerting the common folk to the crisis.

The question of privacy and resume management is a huge issue. Routinely, millions of resumes change hands in unregulated spot markets. As the number of job boards continues its radical multiplication, one can only imagine that the level of security declines with the average size of a job board. Now that we have 60,000 of them, the horse may well be out of the barn.

Pam Dixon has been trying to get attention for this issue for many years. In 2003, she authored a report about the treatment of resumes as commodity data for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Needless to say, it fell on deaf ears. (also see her Resume Database Nightmare: Job Seeker Privacy at Risk)

Bashing Monster after they've been vandalized is a bit of victim blaming. This looks more like an emergency issue for the IAEWS. If the International Association of Employment Websites isn't the place for standardization of privacy protection for Job Hunters, where do you suppose it is.

The entire job American job board industry is in a sleep of complacency. The members of Gen Y, already cynical about corporate treatment of individual rights will simply have their fears confirmed by this incident. It tars the whole industry, not just the victim.

Job boards should be trusted holders of private personal information. The problem has come during cash flow crunches. Great designs for privacy that are not legally required seem to dissipate in the face of a downturn. Privacy agreements can be legally revised with a simple spam notification.

The issues are cultural. But the change will be generational. Learning to treat resumes with adequate levels of security concern will involve efforts on both sides of the equation.

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