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What's at Stake in Posting Your Science Resume Online?

By Frank Heasley

I've often thought of the net as the world's largest group of wise people and fools, the finest library man has ever devised, and the ultimate collection of bathroom graffiti.

When one speaks of "The Net" it's important to make some distinctions. The Internet is not a single monolithic entity, but rather a multifaceted tool with capabilities far beyond the understanding of any one individual.

With regard to posting personal information, people do it all the time when they reveal their identities and their innermost thoughts about various topics on newsgroups and in mailing lists like this one. Of course, many others post via anonymous mailers like

But, back to the topic at hand: the risk of posting your resume as a science professional on internet services. Here's the way I view it:

1. Possibly High risk, equivalent to putting your name into the Science Magazine classified job ad section:

Usenet news groups: etc. - I've had multiple reports of people ending up on spam lists as a result of posting open resumes. If you don't want the whole world to know that you're looking for a job, and if you'd prefer not to be blitzed with "Make Money Fast At Home While Stuffing Letters" schemes, the usenet newsgroups are among the worst places to advertise your presence.

The same goes for unprotected open databases, or databases which display resumes without names. After all, how much effort does it take to figure out who's who, when you've got current employer, references and perhaps even publications lists?

An equivalent area of high risk would be putting your resume up as an open, publicly accessible web page via your university job service or other internet web provider.

2. Generally Low risk, probably lower risk than listing with your professional association or going to a "Job Fair" (both of which are VERY likely to be attended by your own employer).

Databases which are password protected can offer a reasonable level of confidentiality. Generally, only those employers with jobs to fill are willing to pay the subscription fees, so the audience is preselected to the people you want to contact. If the system is adequately managed, the chances are slim that your information will fall into the wrong hands.

Highest possible risk: The jobs pages on the web who offer to spam your resume across the jobs newsgroups, while charging you a fee for their "service".

Finding a new job is always a risky proposition. It's a good example of the old adage "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". Finding the right balance for yourself between (1) Full exposure / high risk and (2) No exposure / low risk is the key. In the first case, you might find yourself out of work if you blab your job search to the world at large and your employer is one of "those" types. In the second case it will take you a very long time to find a new position if absolutely no one but you knows you are looking.

Copyright (c) 2008, MedZilla, Inc. Re-print permission granted by MedZilla, Inc.

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