March 23, 2017

Reduce your risk: 3 tips to avoid LinkedIn fraud

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

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 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 extensively. At its core, the LinkedIn profile is a promotional medium – call it creative license. It is not a replacement of a formal resume.

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

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

2. Perform a crosscheck: Overlay a person’s LinkedIn profile with his/her formal resume. 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 a 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 completion to no degree. Titles are also misleading. A person may include their title as “Chief Financial Officer” and, in reality, he/she 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 about LinkedIn recommendations: Do not get overly comforted by the “recommendations” or “endorsements” noted on a person’s LinkedIn profile – they should not be a substitute for completion of formal reference checks. In fact, the 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 when it comes to the use of 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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