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Why People Who Lie On LinkedIn Get Found Out

Why People Who Lie On LinkedIn Get Found Out

Over the years, I have been dumb-founded by what former employees have written on their LinkedIn profiles about what they did while working at Marketing Eye.

The first one that had me gob-smacked was a French assistant, who wrote that she had developed and managed the Marketing Eye brand, building the company’s marketing strategy and executing it.

In reality, she was a personal assistant, who had poor English and was struggling to do any task at all from an administrative perspective. She didn’t write anything, had no contact at all with design or branding but was excellent at organizing my dinner appointments, assisting me with my wardrobe and in general being a great personal assistant, albeit one that could not write on an email on my behalf because of the poor English factor. She worked for me for a few months only which I did it as a favour for her boyfriend who was a good friend at the time. In the end, I had to tell him, that her English was so bad, I couldn’t afford the luxury of her impeccable taste in clothing, makeup and picking restaurants at that stage of my life.

I didn’t address the lies on Linkedin, but I was very aware of it. One of my other employees had brought it to my attention. From that job, somehow she got a job as  a marketing person (no doubt helped by her resume that was embellished), and then in no time became a marketing manager.  At no stage, has any person ever rung me for a reference.

The latest is even more ludicrous if that is possible. Once again, a current employee brought to my attention that a unpaid intern, who then became a one to two day per week marketing assistant and for a few months over her University holidays, worked as a marketing co-ordinator, and by her own admission was only as casual employee, stated the following on LinkedIn.

  • Managed up to 30 clients (the portfolio in that particular office didn’t have 30 clients, she had no management duties whatsoever and was given tasks from time to time, but was strictly a marketing coordinator who at times had the opportunity to put together the first draft of marketing copy, that then went to an inhouse writer and marketing manager)
  • Managed up to 8 staff (the office didn’t have 8 staff and certainly as a marketing coordinator, with senior managers and the owner in the office, it is impossible she managed any staff at all). She from time to time gave unpaid interns works to do like follow people on Twitter, search engine optimization or even having a go at writing the basis of a marketing strategy (just like what she did), but certainly NEVER did she manage any staff.

Once again, since she left in January (noting that she only had more paid hours for one to two days per week until November in which she than worked 5 days a week for a couple of months with compulsory 3 weeks holiday over Xmas), she wrote that she worked fulltime as a marketing coordinator for 1.1 years at Marketing Eye.  She has had two jobs since leaving in January – possibly the lies caught up with her but her equally impressive resume continues on LinkedIn. She had fulltime hours for 8 weeks only and that was broken up with 3 weeks holidays which she was not paid for because she was a casual.

Are people employing new recruits without reference checking or are they reference checking with people who have no qualifications or responsibility to those staff members? Perhaps, they are getting their friends to be referencees, who then lie on their behalf.

The question lies with how accurate is LinkedIn profiles and what can a former employer do about correcting information that is just not accurate?

Another example I have is of my clients employees writing on their profile that they developed and managed a website that was built by Marketing Eye as part of their job. They too are in the position of an internship and the only communications we have ever had with that person is to get logo’s of their clients. Yet, their LinkedIn profile reads something completely different.

How employers can mitigate the risk of embellished Linkedin profiles:

  1. Contracts with interns, casuals and employees should stipulate exactly what their roles are and what they may be able after a stipulated timeframe and based on performance communicate in their resumes.
  2. Regular checking of former employees Linkedin profiles
  3. Work with a law firm and develop a legal letter that addresses lies on Linkedin which is sent out as a precaution to people who choose to lie about their experience
  4. Always start with a polite letter then take it seriously and bring in the lawyers – this person is representing your brand on social media and when the next employer realizes it is all lies, they will think less of your brand as well as that person
  5. Support fellow entrepreneurs: Ensuring that the truth on resumes and Linkedin profiles is communicated only, will save them time, money and potentially legal issues of the future.

Why not to sit on your hands

  1. It’s your brand that someone is representing on their resumes and when they move to the next employer, its your brand that they are ambassadors of
  2. Small businesses have enough to deal with and sometimes if you take the time to address these issues you will save them money, time and reputation. Treat other employers as you would like to be treated yourself
  3. What else is this person saying if they can lie so easily to the world on Linkedin  about your brand?

The last note: speaking from experience, last year I hired a person who had on paper exceptional qualifications and upon ringing her last supposed supervisor, received a glowing report.

We employed her, and within days, realised that she had never written a marketing strategy, engaged in any public relations activities, organised the booking of an advertisement, done any social media, direct marketing or fairly much any marketing other than working on a trade booth and coordinating companies who put their brands on Coles shelves.

Clearly, her reference was a friend and she did not have any experience in marketing. She later admitted to this confirming she took the job because she wanted to gain experience. At a high-salary level and due to the fact she had worked with big brands, we let her loose after training her on the administrative side of consultancy and helping her get up-to-date with client work. She also took over from an exceptional marketing manager who excelled in every area of marketing and was completely thorough in every aspect of working with clients and in her hand-over – which made the issue even bigger.

The result: We lost clients, our reputation was in tatters with the clients she was let loose on and with some people, we will never be able to buy back that perception of our brand.

LinkedIn is good for many things but there must be some quality control mechanisms in place to ensure that things like this does not happen.

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comments ( 38 )
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  • teebee
    28 Jun 2016

    This would be great in an ideal world, but we don't live in one. Those of us who are willing to work hard and learn, don't often get the oppurtunity to in many fields where you are expected to have years of experience for an entry-level to 1st year job. Often people are not trained in the least, and have very little idea where to self train if they are willing to learn. There are also jerk managers out there who want you to perform on the level of vetted employees, abuse and degrade you, and even after you leave them in good terms (for the sake of professionalism), they would love to "be honest" about a reference call. After years of struggling with the ethical question of lying, I have realized that I'll probably not get anywhere if I don't. I'm still on the fence about it, and might rather just settle for less.

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    how about a reputable business shouldn't even have an account on a horrible site like linkedin?!! otherwise a business owner deserve all the lies and deceiving employees.. why don't companies just look at someone resume and call the HR department for each company listed.. and more important "INTERVIEW" the job candidate and judge him based on his answered rather than his claims... you can't take any legal actions against lies on linkedin... I did create a profile on that idiot site a while back due to a lot of pressure, few months later I didn't care for all the hype and wanted to cancel it, forgot about doing that.. several years later I signed in again and found that I was still working for an employed I left several years ago. I'm happy every time I hear about someone who got a great job because of all his/her lies on linkedin.. and companies that use this site for (not so honest) marketing schemes deserve all the (not so honest) employees they hire or used to hire!

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    Well, the fact is, you are correct to say that some people put on Linkedin what appears to be marketing stuff. I think people shouldn't use Linkedin as a resume but as a way to tell their career story in their own words and what they've learned and what value they can offer someone. All this discussion about "responsibilities and authority" is subjective. I would've preferred to see these ladies discuss the skills and attributes demonstrated in their duties that sets them apart (preferably with metrics).

    But, the reality is simple - if they were too embarrassed about what they actually did in their jobs, they need to keep it OFF the resume (or Linkedin). But, if it's on the resume, then it is subject to being verified.

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  • Liz
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    No one does anything about fake claims on LinkedIn profiles. I contacted them over my ex-husband's baldfaced lie about being a contractor with a company that I myself was the contractor for. He had nothing to do with it. He just wanted to fill in a gap in his CV to make it look as if he had been continuously employed (guess what - he wasn't). But he used the "bridge" on his CV to get a new job that he wanted. I supplied the company's name to LinkedIn, if they wanted to check my correction. But they didn't want to check it out. They only wanted to ask my ex to correct it (his choice, if he didn't want to) and know who I was personally, to be requesting the correction on behalf of the company. The company itself did not seem to think it worth checking into, that someone was falsely claiming to have been a contractor with them, and moreover, doing a job for them that did not even have that title. They just didn't care. I never really took LinkedIn that seriously before - it is just a data mining site, essentially, and furthermore, the information's not always even correct. They obviously have no interest in the information they put up there being truthful.

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  • Valerie
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  • Leia
    05 Sep 2013

    Great article. In today's increasingly competitive job market it seems that people will stretch the truth as far as they can to get their foot in the door. But surely their lies will come crashing down around them when they can't actually perform the job they were hired to do. I have heard that employer's are not performing reference checks as often these days as they take up time and are under the assumption that obviously each candidate is going to select referees' that are only going to provide a positive report on the candidate's previous work experience and will be likely under strict instruction to not present the person in a negative light.

  • David
    25 Jul 2013

    I agree with what Angela has mentioned and it is difficult to find graduate jobs. Exaggerating your work experience seems to be the way many graduates go about finding positions. That being said, there is a big difference between slight exaggerations and making up false claims, the bigger the lie, the more intricate it has to be.
    With the examples you mentioned, even the most elaborate lies will eventually be found out.

  • Mia
    23 Jul 2013

    People like these are challenging the credibility and value of LinkedIn. At the moment, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource that allows people to stay informed about their contacts and industry, find people and the knowledge needed to achieve there goals and control their professional identity online. If people continue to embellish their work experience and outright lie, LinkedIn will lose all authority and become just another fad that comes and goes.

  • Simon
    22 Jul 2013

    Shes French... She probably has a really sexy accent and is great in bed...

  • Angela Simon
    Angela Simon
    19 Jul 2013

    I can understand why people embellish their work history, as so many companies these days don't want to hire people without a lot of work experience. I'm trying to find work, and the lack of experience is the #1 reason why I'm not successful. I don't apply for jobs willy-nilly, I try to pick places where my research suggests I would be a good match with the company. An interview is great in this aspect, but I've been to so many and been rejected, with the feedback 'we like you but you don't have enough experience'. I know that hiring people and training them is expensive, and there is the risk that they leave before the company gets their ROI, which makes it all the more difficult for me. My honesty about my work experience is rewarded with continued unemployment.

  • Clinton
    19 Jul 2013

    LinkedIn is a more commercial or professional related social media platform. It is more like your own resume. I know that many employers especially some large company if their employees has LinkedIn account they will impress more. Also this would be a factor to be their reference. That is the reason why many people will overstate or even tell lie in it in order to draw the attention or being outstanding. So I agree that as an employer It is better for them to contact their former employer and check whether the skills or experience that they mention in it is right or not.
    Nice article. Learn a lot.