Reduce Your Risk: 3 Tips To Spot Lies On LinkedIn Profiles

October 24, 2016

lies on LinkedIn profiles

I have written about résumé fraud in the past, whereby aspiring job applicants over-embellish facts, omit important information or outright lie on a résumé. Fast-forward to the present, and we are starting to see some of the same things occurring online: lies on LinkedIn profiles.

Since its inception in 2003, LinkedIn has evolved into a juggernaut serving over 450 million members. It is a remarkable story, one that’s still evolving. I have often referred to LinkedIn as “Facebook for business professionals.” From a recruiter’s perspective, LinkedIn is not viewed as the “silver bullet,” but it is the closest thing to one. In fact, if a person does not have even a rudimentary presence on LinkedIn, it can reflect poorly on him/her as not being in the know or wanting to be known.

Our team of researchers uses LinkedIn extensively and was one of the early adopters of the technology and the service. Through upgraded LinkedIn subscriptions and Boolean search strings, our executive search professionals identify and connect with targeted candidate prospects in an effective and efficient manner, combined with a degree of confidentiality that is so important in the world of proactive recruitment.

However, it is important for hiring entities to understand that LinkedIn profiles should be scrutinized thoroughly. At its core, the LinkedIn profile is a promotional medium – call it creative license. It is not a replacement for a formal résumé.

There are generally enough untruths on many people’s résumés, but lies on LinkedIn profiles are worse. Here are some rules of engagement when employing these profiles in your recruitment processes:

1) Always obtain a résumé. Do not use the LinkedIn profile as the exclusive, prima facie representation of a person’s career history. Make sure your recruiter and/or HR department insists on the receipt of a résumé.

2) Perform a crosscheck. Compare a person’s LinkedIn profile with his/her formal résumé. By aligning the two documents, a hiring enterprise can uncover inconsistencies, omissions and embellishments.

Pay particular attention to dates, credentials, designations, titles and names of employers/companies. Oftentimes people list the name of a college/university and the reader assumes the completion of a degree. Do not make this assumption. It may mean anything from a certificate to no degree. Titles are also misleading. A person may include their title as “Chief Financial Officer” but in reality, may have only served in such a capacity for a New York minute – truncating off many years of experience in a lesser role or function.

3) Be skeptical of LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements. Do not be overly reassured by the “recommendations” or “endorsements” on a LinkedIn profile. They should not be a substitute for completion of formal reference checks. In fact, endorsements are used quite liberally in the LinkedIn world. I cannot count the number of people who have personally endorsed me for a certain skill, but have no clue about me or my expertise in such matters.

Let the buyer beware, and watch out for lies on LinkedIn profiles in the hiring process. Untruths expressed on this medium may represent a more concerning aspect of a person’s candidacy than the words on a page.


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About The Author

Jay Meschke is president of CBIZ Talent and Compensation Solutions. He oversees a business unit that provides retained executive search, compensation consulting, HR consulting and career transition services. He is a sought-after subject matter expert on issues related to executive search and talent management. For additional insights, visit the CBIZ blog and follow him on Twitter at @jay_meschke.

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