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Recruiters: are you aware of digital dangers?

As the job market evolves and the demand for niche skills rises, recruiters play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between job seekers and employers. But with this important task comes a hefty responsibility - the safekeeping of the applicants’ personal information. Whether you're an in-house recruiter or work for a recruitment agency, it’s critical that you remain compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and stick to cyber security best practices.

Recruitment is a data-intensive industry. Candidates' personal details, employment history, national insurance numbers, passport details, and in some instances, financial/banking information, are all held by recruiters, be it on file or in an applicant tracking system. Handling such sensitive information means you need stringent data protection measures.

There’s a segment of the workforce that poses particularly unique risks and challenges - temporary staff, agency staff, and fast turnover roles.

The threats associated with temporary and agency staff

Temp staff, by their nature, move from one assignment to another, often rapidly. They need a unique management style and carry a unique risk profile. These individuals may have access to a range of sensitive information while they’re in a role. This makes the process of data handling more intricate, and any slip-ups can lead to significant breaches.

Agency staff, whose personal information often reside in different systems, across different locations, pose similar risks. On completion of their assignment, their data needs to be securely moved and stored, mitigating any risks associated with data misplacement or unauthorised access. Failing to manage this can lead to serious consequences, such as hefty fines under GDPR and reputational damage that can drastically affect the organisation.

Onboarding and offboarding: a process not to be neglected

If not executed correctly, the onboarding and offboarding process can become a gateway for data breaches. Our previous blog post details the cyber risks associated with poor onboarding and offboarding practices, emphasising the need for a robust process.

The onboarding phase requires new hires to provide a substantial amount of personal information, which if not handled with care, can be vulnerable to breaches. Equally, offboarding employees requires a comprehensive strategy to ensure that no residual data is left unattended. This includes revoking access rights, retrieving company assets, and safely archiving personal data.

Providing clarity on the process and giving a 'data protection' handbook to new hires can minimise risks. While handbooks serve as useful guides, recruiters should also consider providing staff with full training on password management and other important aspects of data security.

Data protection: a shared responsibility

As a recruiter, it's important to understand that the data you handle is not merely information; it’s a person's identity. Compliance with GDPR and cyber security is not just a regulatory obligation; it is a commitment to respect the individual's privacy and protect their identity.

Despite the complexities and risks involved in handling sensitive data, the key to ensuring data security is often simpler than it seems - it's about fostering a culture of data protection within your organisation or agency. Training should not be considered a one-off event, but rather an ongoing process that evolves with the ever-changing cyber landscape.

Recruitment agencies, HR consultants, and employers should work together to ensure the security of candidate and employee data. Cybersecurity should be a shared responsibility, not a solitary task.

As highlighted in another of our blogs, HR consultants must be aware of and comply with cyber security best practices. The same applies to recruiters - it's not just about filling vacancies; it's about safeguarding the personal details of the individuals you're placing.

In conclusion, the dangers posed by poor data management in recruitment are real and significant. They can be mitigated with due diligence, comprehensive onboarding and offboarding processes, regular staff training, and a shared commitment to cyber security.

Ready to make every element of your business cyber safer? Get in touch.


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others.  Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.


The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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