Keeping Employee Tech in Check


All the news coverage about accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone got me thinking about our company’s BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] policy. Do you have any insight into how businesses balance employees’ privacy rights with the concern over data breaches – unintentional (say they get hacked through a personal app) or deliberate (when a disgruntled employee quits, for instance)?

flat design concept of BYOD bring you own device

Dear iWorried,

There are pros and cons for companies who permit employees to Bring Your Own Tech (Device, Phone, or PC). BYOD programs most often shift the costs to the user, saving businesses a potential boatload on their balance sheet. Plenty of companies are requiring workers to cover all the costs of their devices and, surprisingly, employees are not complaining. (Well, some would still like an allowance or reimbursement.) Employees get to use the device that they prefer – we all know Apple aficionados are notoriously loyal – and that may result in higher productivity. Personal users tend to upgrade to the latest technology at a faster pace than bureaucratic organizations, which can keep your company on the leading edge at no expense to you.

Businesses generally have users sign an acceptable use agreement for company-issued IT, but employees may be a bit touchy being told how they can use their own personal devices. A policy update may be in order. You must insist on strong passwords and lock screens on personal devices. Beyond that, there are plenty more issues to discuss. Will your acceptable use policy dictate which web browser employees must use? May sports fans livestream March Madness games during work hours? (Can your network bandwidth handle the surge?!) Is posting on Facebook while on their device’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) a violation of policy? What if a security hole in an app on an employee’s personal phone allows hackers to access your company’s relay mail? Should you decide which apps will be allowed or banned (what, no Spotify?!)? Use this BYOD policy template as a jumping off point to develop your acceptable use agreement.

When employees leave a company with BYOD, it’s not as simple as turning in the work-issued IT and wiping it. You must have an exit strategy that retrieves company data and removes email access, proprietary applications, access tokens, and more.

You are wise to be concerned about the BYOD technology issue. But it’s far more complex than this little old lady can address in my advice column, so please check with your IT administrators for up-to-date best practices.

Readers: What is your company’s Bring Your Own Device policy?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Finding Job References

I’ve had a few questions in the past weeks about references:

I went online to apply for a job. I was able to fill everything out on a job application except for a reference list. The application requires that I list three references with name, phone number, and email. I do not have that kind of information to give, especially email address. I cannot submit application without all the required information for references. How can I work past this issue?

Multiracial Thumbs Up Against Blue SkyDear, No References,

You need to get some younger “Millennial” friends with computers! Other people who may not have ready references include:

  • Young workers
  • Recent graduates
  • Stay-at-home parents or caregivers entering or reentering workforce
  • Employees terminated from one or more jobs
  • Bridge burners (you stormed out, or just didn’t appear for work one day without giving notice)
  • Self-employed individuals

Are references required fields in the application? If you cannot submit your application without filling in all of the blanks, try entering “N/A” (for Not Available) or type in “Upon Request.”  While some applications specifically request “professional” references, personal or character references may be accepted by other companies.

The professional references that hold the most sway are former supervisors. Peers or coworkers who can attest to your work ethic are also suitable references. Testimonials from clients or customers would also be impressive, especially for self-employed entrepreneurs seeking jobs.

Job_Reference_MemeIf you don’t have a bevy of professional references, find character references from other acquaintances. Teachers, college professors, or guidance counselors are great references for students and recent grads. Members of civic groups, church, or volunteer organizations may be able to attest to your attributes that would be work-relevant. As a last resort, use personal references, but definitely not your mother, your fiancé, and preferably not your BFF (unless he’s the president of an impressive multinational corporation). Think of your accountant who does your taxes, your landlord, or the long-time family friend who is an upstanding business owner in the community.

Be sure to ask these individuals for permission to include them on applications and your reference list. Ask “Do you feel you know me well enough to provide me with a good job reference?” This gives the person an out if they are uncomfortable vouching for you.

One final note: do not include your references on your résumé. In our online world of searchable job boards, it’s a privacy issue.  When you do provide contact information, give work phone numbers and emails rather than personal whenever possible.

Dear, Anita,

On an employment application, is it appropriate to list Human Resource department, along with that office phone number, in cases where the company is a “branch” location and the corporate office is located in another area (i.e., city or state) or if your direct manager/supervisor is no longer employed by that company?

Dear, Long Gone,

I think that is wise, as the HR department can at least verify your dates of employment. If you have kept in touch with your direct supervisor (and he can give you a glowing recommendation), you may want to use him as a reference with his new contact information.

If you’re out of touch, search for former managers and coworkers on Google or LinkedIn. It’s a good networking practice to stay connected with folks from past jobs – before you want a favor like a recommendation letter. After you reconnect on LinkedIn, endorse skills in which your ex-colleagues excelled, and ask for endorsements in return. In addition to traditional reference checks, many HR departments routinely check social media.

Readers: Who was your most “creative” job reference?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Finding a Job Without Recent Work References
Reference Check Response
Responding to Reference Check Requests
Creating a Résumé from Scratch


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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