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What’s going to be more accurate, John Smith’s LinkedIn profile, or his resume?

Apparently the LinkedIn Profile – let’s have a look.

Insight from LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman

Apparently I missed an article from the summer describing Hoffman’s discussion at the Social Recruiting Summit.

In the quote from the article, he’s suggesting that individuals are not as likely to lie on their LinkedIn profile – because well – it’s visible to everyone in their network.

A resume is more private, and shared only with the intended hiring organization, so who’ll ever know that they weren’t team leader…

It’s an interesting concept, and makes perfect sense.

Not quite crowd sourcing

The HR Capitalist article came to me by way of a shorter note just recently in Business Management Daily that suggests the effect is like crowd sourcing.

And I’m not so sure about that.

Crowd sourcing is when multiple authors refine content such that the end result is better than if any one were in control.

LinkedIn is definitely not a crowd-source platform, and it isn’t even close to having a feedback mechanism.

What it has though is public scrutiny – and the knowledge that every viewer seeing a lie will then know that the individual is willing to do that publicly.

And that’s got to hurt the relationship of those that connect when they “know and trust” someone…

Willingness to lie

People that have been around the site for a while know that there is a small percentage of LinkedIn users that are perfectly willing to lie on their profile.

Not all of it is awful – it  takes several forms:

  • Errors of omission
  • Simple embellishments
  • Factual errors
  • Misrepresentations
  • Bold Face Lies

I’ve got that first one in there just so that everyone is clear – the site is not intending to be an FBI dossier on anyone. It’s a self-authored description of one’s background, strengths, capabilities, and interests.  An individual is expecting to benefit from their presence on LinkedIn, and is not likely to reveal any not-so-good information. (nor should we expect them to;-)

And yes, it’s possible that the “co” from “leader” might get dropped off in the description of one positon, and that isn’t likely to raise eyebrows.

But experienced LinkedIn users have seen some clear misrepresentations on profiles, and yes, it’s a reflection back to the character of that individual…

The height of this phenomenon is the “been everywhere” profile.

Alumni of 32 schools and 28 businesses…

Because LinkedIn gives a few liberties to alumni of both universities and businesses, it has been a favorite for abuse.

Every once in a while you’ll come across the profile of Jeb Smith who just happens to list a whole lot of university and employment relationships.  Relationships that couldn’t possibly be true.

If you added up the years, our friend Jeb would be 87 by now…

I believe if you report these profiles, LinkedIn will “take care of them”.

But mostly I just ignore those people.

Jane Goodall never worked here

But it can be a problem – Jane may report having worked for a company (your company) and never have actually set foot in the doors.

And there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.  I don’t have direct reports about this being brought to LinkedIn’s attention – it’s not like they’re claiming to fact check profiles…

But here’s a request for readers – if you can talk about a specific situation (anonymously), we’d love to hear it. Share your experience here.

The moral of the story – connect to people you trust – who don’t make fake profiles. And when they ask you to pass along an introduction, or accept one of theirs, you know you’re on good footing.

To your continued success,
steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock