The Eagle Blog

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!


Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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4 thoughts on “What Would Possess People to Lie on LinkedIn?

  1. I am surprised that you were surprised. Recommendations on social networking sites are not worth the paper they are written on. 🙂 I have only made one recommendation on Linkedin. It is one that I strongly believe in, but I don’t think it will have any influence over that individual’s career prospects. (He is already gainfully employed in a senior position and unlikely to move anywhere).

  2. Surprised was probably a poor choice of word … disappointed might have been a better choice! I like to think the best of people, but when they lie so blatantly to your face (on a public forum like LinkedIn) then you can’t even give them the benefit of the doubt!!!


  3. I am a Senior Product Manager and my LinkedIn profile is correct but I really am a director level so I have my title as Director on Google Plus for one of my old positions. Most people are surprised I’m not a director already, anyway. Eventually my connections will just think I was really a director and be my reference. No one really notices these things right? Especially since its just a matter of time until I get the title I deserve.

  4. Hendrik … I would have to ask myself whether it is really worth it? If you were not a director and someone calls you on it you could be in an embarrassing situation. Titles are not really that important … but misrepresenting a title might send a strong message.

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