Beware the LinkedIn liar!

Don’t get me wrong. I use LinkedIn a lot. And so should every recruiter.

But there are issues with LinkedIn. Flaws.

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 a the Recruiters HUB conference in Sydney where a speaker from 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 more than 7,000 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, that is a lot of people!), 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’ while 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.

Good recruiters treat LinkedIn no different to an unsolicited resume.Its our job to check and verify. Sure. But still, it begs the question. Does LinkedIn bear a duty of care to users of their service? In many cases we pay to secure access to these profiles. If they are fraudulent, and we make a hire, or recommend a hire, on the basis of LinkedIn provided data… does LinkedIn bear liability?

Should they?

But in the meantime, legal niceties aside, beware the LinkedIn liar.

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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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67 Responses to Beware the LinkedIn liar!

  1. Jason Scott January 10, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Stop wasting time on Linkedin and do your jobs properly. Leave LinkedIn to the failed recruiters now working client side. The more they use it the more the transactional plebs benefit from assignment flow. Fortunately at the top end of the search market we do things the old school way and actually seek talent out. I think if we are pointing fingers we should point them no further than the Michael Pages and Robert Walters of this world. They are taught to lie and deceive by the leadership as that apparently is how you get ahead. Amateur hour at best.

  2. Matt January 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Haha. I’m encouraged by the fact that a recruiter actually realises that LinkedIn recommendations are untrustworthy. The first time I read a few I was absolutely gobsmacked. Perhaps 1 in 10 might be honest.
    There is one reason that people write linked-in recommendations – they want one in return..!
    Good people, and good workers, do not need to rely on such tactics.

  3. Graeme Read February 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Too true Greg. The other is people who leave firms but still show you as their “current” employer – companies should be able to flag that. We had a case of “passing off” in LinkedIn’s early days directly attributable to this.

  4. papa June 28, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Why are my email contacts being stolen by linked in? And why no one is doing anything about it. I never give anyone permission to do such a thing. This is bs. I need some answers and linked in is ignoring everyone that have a problem. I will try to post this thing in as many places in web so that people are aware of this scam

  5. Paul September 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    Great read, and definitely buyer beware, also worth noting I have had CVs from candidates and cross referenced them on linked in to find they are completely out either chronologically or on job title.
    Pretty crap really, and needless to say they’re binned.

  6. Rob Smit January 1, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    About 85% of people I know and encounter, other then my friends/connections, on linkedin have an untrue profile of as much every detail
    Educations incorrect, jobtitles incorrect, years incorrect, strange recommendations.
    Bottom linree I would not hire a stranger from linkedin without being introduced by somebody able to confirm the merits. Those 85% have a high content of naming themsemlves manager, CEO, director. Need I go on? Sometimes more then one profile and other stories on FB.

    Makes Linkedin a very unreliable database. Is only good to find old friends for me.
    luckily those people al share same people we know so they dont bother to fake.

    I have seen 100 people claiming to have been my boss somewhere, well they haven’t, they might have been on the premises and they proved worthless then already and certainly were not the manager. I lot of times drop connections if in their seconds are a lot of fakes and they should know.

  7. Paul Anderson February 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    Always a good read Greg. I had a cracker recently when the guys CV was unrecognisable when compared to his Linked in profile.
    He had manufactured his CV to fit the role, but didnt think that anyone would cross reference the two, hence the disparity was glaringly obvious.
    Then, he gets the hump when I challenge him…..what can you do.
    Qualify, reference and qualify again.
    Keep blogging
    Paul

  8. WorldCynic April 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Mr. Savage,

    I believe it is time that you updated the above article. I perceive that more than half of the people on LinkedIn are LIARS. Just sayin’.

  9. WorldCynic April 23, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    Also, I find it interesting that Google’s first page of search results for the search of exact phrase “LinkedIn liars” and “2015” yields comments from Europeans and Australians, and not Americans. Does this mean more Americans are liars?

    Also, more disturbing, if employers see the profiles of liars and don’t tell those employees to correct their profiles, one would think those employers are themselves liars, because they knowingly hired liars.

    • Pat Worth September 6, 2016 at 6:09 am #

      It’s indeed time for this to be updated! Liars on LinkedIn are frustrating and make me doubt the entire site. However, one “VP” is such a bold liar, he lies in person and to clients about a degree he doesn’t have. Can’t believe he hasn’t been fired for this!

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