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Job Application Leak

Job Application Leak

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

June 22, 2010

A reader writes:

I applied for a job with a competitor of the current company I work for. I arrived at work the next day and all my co-workers and people who don’t even work with me, knew I applied for the job. Are there any privacy laws preventing this company from telling my current job that I applied there, they haven’t contacted me for an interview or anything but yet my current job was put at risk because this company told them that I applied there. Please help…I feel my rights were violated as a job applicant.

It’s not illegal, but it’s reckless.

However, it’s highly unlikely that this company called up everyone at your current company and told them you’re applying for the job. What’s more likely is that they talked to one person, and that one person is responsible for spreading it all over your office.

Now, why would they talk to that one person? I suspect the most likely scenario is that the person reviewing your application saw that you currently work at Company A, and thought, “Oh, I know Bob at Company A. I’ll see what he can tell me about this candidate.” This kind of informal reference-checking goes on all the time — but the assumption is that everyone involved will use discretion. Which clearly didn’t happen here — whoever they talked to handled the information unprofessionally.

It’s possible that you could get to the bottom of this by following up with the employer and asking what happened (although if you get an interview, it would be easier to ask at that point).

I’m really sorry this happened to you!

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