Tips can help protect job data from hackers

In light of last week’s news, when hackers made their way into the resume database of, I am reprinting some advice on protecting your privacy on the Internet.

The following tips recently appeared in my column:

Remove your home address and phone number from online documents. Use a Web-based e-mail address.

Review incoming e-mail messages carefully.

Delete messages with attachments right away.

Consider managing your own distribution rather than using online job boards.

Moving forward, I received many notes from readers asking for more details about contacting companies directly. Your questions ranged from “How do I proceed?” to “Who is the right person to contact?” Here is some additional advice on the subject.

When you approach companies directly, you control the direction of your job search. When it’s done right, it shows a tremendous amount of initiative and can result in a long-term professional relationship.

Before you send a blind letter or place a “cold” phone call — a tactic that rarely leads to a job offer — research several organizations in your field. Read the newspaper and search the Internet to learn about each company’s goals, culture, challenges and competition.

Use your findings to determine how you would fit in with the work force. Is there a specific need that you can fulfill? What problems can you solve? How can you make them money, improve their reputation or increase their bottom line? These ideas will help you market or “sell” yourself to the employer.

The next step is to dig just a little deeper. If you were to land a job with this company, who would be your supervisor? What is his or her title? This is the person that you will contact with your introductory letter.

How do you find this person? One way is to call the front office. It seems elementary, I know. But this tactic is different from placing a cold call to ask for a job, or trying to schedule an interview for a position that may or may not exist. In this case, you are simply requesting some information about the staff.

Be brief and forthright. Try something like this: “I am interested in sending a letter to the person who runs the clinical research department. Can you tell me the name of the director?” Verify the spelling, title and address. Then, get off the phone.

In our high-tech society, anything that arrives in the mailbox will likely stand out, so send your letter and resume through the mail. Include the ways that you can improve the bottom line, and finish the letter with confidence, like this: “I look forward to discussing my potential contributions to XYZ Company. I’ll call you next Wednesday to follow up.”

Next Wednesday, you may speak with the director, or you may end up talking to human resources. Either way, it’s good for you. Remember, your goal is to establish trust and start building a relationship. Be honest about your objective. Make sure that your resume is in the right hands. Try to schedule an appointment.

If you don’t land a meeting right away, stay in touch and continue your research. It may seem like a lot of work, but if you have a long-range vision for your career, the extra effort will pay off.

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