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What Would Possess People to Lie on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a great social networking tool for business and I use it regularly. 

When I first started to use LinkedIn I was a little surprised at how people used the “recommendations” on LinkedIn.  To me, a recommendation is like a reference and something to be very carefully considered.  To many LinkedIn users a recommendation is a way to enhance their reputation, whether it is pertinent (or even true).  So when I saw people whom I knew to be marginal performers receiving glowing recommendations I started to look a little closer. 

a.  People were providing recommendations for former colleagues that they hadn’t worked with for years!   How can anyone provide a recommendation for someone they worked with 10 years ago (never mind 20 years ago) when their role today must be hugely different and they have no idea what their work ethic or attitude is like in the last decade!

b.  People were giving recommendations to others so they could get recommendations for themselves.  Clearly the conversation must have been, “I’ll tell the world what a GREAT sales person you are, if you tell the world what a FANTASTIC recruiter I am”, says the unemployed recruiter to the recently fired sales person!

c.  People were getting glowing recommendations from colleagues who would have no clue how they were doing!   Hey … Joe Salesguy in Calgary is a FANTASTIC sales guy, says the junior recruiter in Toronto … who met him once in a pub!

As if the recommendations issue wasn’t bad enough, I have been noticing some interesting discrepancies in people’s work history!

1.  A profile will suggest Job A from 1995 to 2005 when I happen to know they worked for someone else in there (probably someone they wouldn’t want to use as a reference).

2.  A profile might suggest a different job title (and experience) than reality.  eg  Technical Recruiter 2007-2008 and Account Manager 2008 to 2011; rather than Technical Recruiter 2007 to 2011. 

People lie on their resumes all the time … a Forbes article suggested that as many as 40% of people fall into that category, there was a woman who even wrote a book about her story.  The difference is that a few people get to see your resume … the whole world can see your LinkedIn profile!

So …

(a) I don’t think people should tell lies on their resume … but I think it is just stupid to tell lies on a publicly accessible tool like LinkedIn!!! 

(b) If you are using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool … remember a LOT of people lie, so take their profile with a pinch of salt!