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Protecting Their Privacy: The Challenge Plaguing Job Seekers

New regulations will be pivotal to shaping the future privacy rights for candidates.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 4 min read

iCIMS Protecting Their PrivacyWe live in the Big Data generation, where location-based apps, smart home assistants, and social media sites track and monitor our preferences.

Many companies view access to this data as the utopia. We continue seeing tech vendors barreling towards advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes with little sensitivity toward the preferences – or concerns – of their human users. Look no further than the revelation that Facebook has siphoned personal data and information unbeknownst to its users – it’s no wonder why people feel uncomfortable allowing any company to access their private information.

Yet, as technology providers, it must be our responsibility to take a step back from the noise made by emerging innovations and return to the basic principles of good business and morality.

Within the recruiting industry, the candidate experience has been a hot topic for some time. And as the demand for talent continues to increase, the power too has shifted towards candidates. Considering one bad hire costs nearly $17,000 on average, employers simply can’t afford to overlook the importance of recruiting any longer. We rarely stop to consider that the data candidates share during this process could merit more exposure than they ever anticipated or signed up for.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Applying for a job is an admirable act of vulnerability. Candidates put themselves out there, hinging their ability to work – their livelihood – on whether their resume gets noticed or a hiring manager thinks they’re a fit within the first 90 seconds of an interview. There’s a lot of pressure to be transparent about past experiences, long-term career plans and salary history. And now with the added importance of a candidate’s social media presence, even more personal details are open to scrutiny within the hiring process.

Here’s the real point of concern: When a candidate submits a job application, there is an implied contract of trust. Applicants expect that their data will remain protected and treated with respect throughout the entire hiring process. Rightfully so.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes a major stride toward preserving candidate privacy. Regarding the hiring process, the mandate specifies and strengthens the rights of the candidate (data subject), adding transparency to data processing and stronger indicators of consent, as well as the obligations of employers (data controllers) and talent acquisition and HCM software providers (data processors). Any company based in the U.S. that does business in, or accepts job applicants from, the EU will also see the effects of the regulation.

Companies need to ensure they’re partnering with the right partners who maintain a strong corporate stance regarding the protection and privacy of their customer data. These new regulations will be pivotal to shaping the future privacy rights for candidates and serve as a benchmark going forward for the transparent flow of information between companies and job seekers.

Still, I don’t want to paint this one rule as our saving grace; it’s not. Government legislation cannot keep up with constantly shifting data practices and daily innovations in AI. But it does teach us a lesson about empowerment – offering candidates more transparency into the online hiring process and the ability to decide who can have access to their personal data.

The majority of workers (70 percent) have searched for a new job while at their workplace. So, chances are, your current candidate pool is filled with people who are currently employed. Startups like hiQ Labs scrape data from public LinkedIn profiles to determine if an employee is going to quit, and then sell that information to employers as engagement data. Sure, this information is valuable, and different rules and agreements apply to an employer-employee relationship versus that of a potential employer and their applicants. But I’d argue that how you treat available candidate data is equally as reflective of your business ethics as how you treat employee data, for better or worse.

Nearly everyone avoids companies that they don’t believe protect their privacy. These people are your customers, your partners, and of course, your employees. As technology providers in the business of connecting people with companies, we must especially consider where the emerging advancements in data mining, AI, and recruitment advertising should and shouldn’t be going, and come to an agreement before we cross a very sensitive line.

Simply put, job seekers expect employers to treat applicants with the same respect as current employees.  Hiring companies everywhere owe it to them.