Are you a LinkedIn liar?

Nowadays, most professionals have a LinkedIn profile and use it for business networking and profiling themselves for job opportunities. But there are issues with LinkedIn. Flaws.

Don’t get me wrong. I use LinkedIn a lot, and of course so does everyone at Firebrand.

One of the most obvious is that LinkedIn appears to have no system to monitor accuracy of data on their network. Indeed, they freely admit that many profiles are bogus, and that many people have several LinkedIn profiles.

Recently I was at the Recruiters HUB conference in Sydney where a speaker, Kalena Jefferson, HRD for Kelly Services, spoke amusingly, about their office fish ‘Moby’, who apparently has a LinkedIn profile. And get this. Moby once received a headhunt approach via LinkedIn for a sales job!

Increasingly, I have started to detect flagrant misrepresentations on LinkedIn. I have close to 3,000 contacts on LinkedIn. Many of these people are quite well known to me. Some have worked for, or with me (over a 30 year career), or I have interviewed them for a job, or we have done business together.

And even though these people know they are linked to me, many of them create LinkedIn profiles that are as fictional as a Harry Potter novel!

A recruiter who held a bog standard recruiting role with my company, who now, miraculously, was apparently a ‘Divisional Manager’ whilst with us. A ‘LinkedIn Retrospective Promotion’.

Or a failed recruiter, who was managed out of the business for under-performance, now proudly boasts on her profile that she was the ‘Office Top Biller’ for three quarters out of four!

Or the receptionist – a temp when she was with us, what is more – who has morphed into the ‘Group Administration Manager’ on her LinkedIn profile, which on face value now looks very impressive indeed!

Or (and these are all real actual examples, I hasten to remind you) the ditsy, hopeless recruiter who eventually stole from the company, who just simply leaves the year she was employed here off her profile entirely! And then adds the inconvenient extra 12 months on to another job!

It happens all the time.

And it’s not just qualifications, work history, achievements and job titles that are inflated, exaggerated and quiet simply fabricated. The recommendations on LinkedIn are often as farcical as a John Cleese special.

Like the Senior Manager who worked for me, who eventually had to fire a woefully incompetent Manager… who now brazenly recommends her in glowing terms on LinkedIn! Are we surprised to find she recommends him back in a cozy, all too familiar, LinkedIn tit for tat recommendation love-in?

How can we possibly take LinkedIn recommendations seriously when they are mostly solicited, reciprocal, and worst of all – self-published! If you don’t like what they say, even in nuance, you don’t approve it.

Total nonsense. Useless. Farcical. John Cleese would approve.

LinkedIn has great application. But it is riddled with flaws too. For a start, it is packed with fraudulent, exaggerated and inflated profiles.

And it begs the question. Does LinkedIn bear a duty of care to users of their service? Should they?

Beware the LinkedIn liar.


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(20) Readers Comments

  1. How is this any different to the exact same information appearing on a printed CV? It’s both the recruiter’s and the prospective employer’s job to weed out liars and to accurately reference check candidates before making them an offer.

    • That’s exactly right, but for some reason, some recruiters and employers take a LinkedIn profile as gospel and forget they still need to do thorough interviewing and reference checks.

  2. If LinkedIn decided to police their users…just how would they do this?

    I think this is a true case of “reader beware” more than anything.

  3. I think the rationale of this post hits the mark. But agree with Karen Lopez that it’s a case of ‘reader beware’ . Difficult to consider how LinkedIn could monitor this. It is flawed in that recruiters rely on the trust and honesty of LinkedIn users but clearly they need to cross reference their candidates at all times. Greg, your comments on recommendations hits the nail on the head – this is a convoluted tit for tat (giving in an open forum) that can be easily misused. I’m usually very wary of recommendations requests and respond to only a few.

  4. Hmmm interesting

    But what if your freelance like me in the film and media industry

    After working on every project I ask my temporary employer for a recomdation

    Most are glad to do so without the need to nag me to reciprocate

    Mine are all 100% genuine and im really proud of them as its a real honour to have the kind of exempliory feedback I have as ive worked so very hard to achieve it

    So how do you police such a thing? (or do you need to?)

    People have always talked themselves up on their CVs, and the fact that now it’s public for all to see is no different really

    We always have to make a good impression with potential new clients and employers…

    In my case I let me work speak for itself.


    • Hi Chris. There’s nothing wrong with asking for LinkedIn recommendations after each freelance project. In fact, it’s a great idea – it’s authentic and great for your personal branding. It’s not like employers are going to ask you for a recommendation, hence the whole tit for tat issue. Good for you!

  5. I’m quite surprised at the comment that recruiters and employers take what’s on LinkedIn as “gospel”. I’ve jobhunted several times over the past 5 years, and I’ve always had prospective employers contact past employers to confirm things like term of employment, job title and reason for leaving, so I’m not sure what to think of that.

    As far as LinkedIn policing the veracity of poster’s profiles, that’s simply not feasible and would result in chaos. As others have said, the LinkedIn profile is simply an online resume with a few added bells and whistles. As for the recommendations, I recommend only people I ACTUALLY feel I can. I also can typically tell whether a recommendation is legitimate or a tit-for-tat suck-up just by reading them. A savvy recruiter/hiring manager should be able to do the same.

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  9. Could Lynkin be sued for not verifying information
    provided by their members?

    I know 20 profiles, every single one have been economical
    with the truth.

    Just wondering.


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  13. LinkedIn isn’t there to verify authenticity. It’s a platform to allow people to advertise and promote themselves. I can put up a billboard ad for some product that claims to do the impossible. The company that sells ad space don’t get to verify the authenticity of my claim (or care). Any recruiter who takes anything they read from unverified sources as the truth, is going to get their fingers and reputation burned. This includes LinkedIn but also any CV or references a candidate provides. They are all within the control of the candidate. Most referees ask what you want them to say in any case and the chances of them being hauled up and held accountable for what they write is pretty slim.

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