Farhad: I think it’s a hybrid. It talks about your professional history beyond a certain company. It talks about your education. It’s not owned by the company in any way, but you are representing yourself. Especially if it’s a place you currently work at, you’re representing yourself as an employee of that company and anything you say there. If you claim that you’re the CEO of Apple on your LinkedIn profile, I think Apple should say something about it.
Emily: You are the new CEO of Apple, right?
Farhad: Yeah, I just put it up on LinkedIn right now. I think the company does have a right to intervene in that case, if an employee is misrepresenting her title at the company.
Emily: That’s an interesting point that LinkedIn is a kind of hybrid thing. It’s not the company’s website, but the company is being represented by how employees describe themselves.
In that case, I do think you’re right, if this person doesn’t take care of it and realize she’s been caught. And how kooky do you have to be? That says there’s something really wrong with this person. I think you can go to HR or the supervisor and say, “Look, I don’t want to get in a personal situation, but the company is being misrepresented on Ashley’s profile. Maybe we need to have a company-wide policy that your LinkedIn profiles will be occasionally vetted by the company to make sure everything is accurate, because you’re representing this business to the world.”
Farhad: I think in general it’s a really dumb thing to misrepresent yourself on LinkedIn. LinkedIn I’ve heard is a great way to find work if you’re unemployed. One of the ways people use it is they maintain an accurate profile, and then other people in the industry, other people in their network – their friends and colleagues – can promote their profile, add testimonials to their profile and in general keep them in mind for jobs that they hear of.
If you’re going around lying on your profile and it’s obvious to your coworkers that you’re lying on your profile, you’re just defeating yourself before that process even starts. It’s a really bad idea.
Emily: I totally agree. Part of me says, “The system will catch and fix this,” but I wonder how often people do get away with résumé padding or outright lying. As Dear Prudence, I’ve done a lot of office-oriented questions and if you’ve got a psycho embezzler in your office who’s been fired, if that person is looking for another job, when the potential employer calls HR, HR is not going to say, “Oh, you can hire that psycho embezzler.” They will say, “This person worked here from X date to X date.” Now you’ve got to infer if you don’t hear any more than that.
I’m kind of wondering if a lot of people aren’t getting away with stuff because of fear of law suits. I would be curious to see how self-correcting the system is, and I think some business school professor should do this study.
Farhad: That’s a good idea. I’ve heard, actually, of there being “rings” – people who go around and agree to add testimonials to one another’s pages as kickbacks. I might claim that I’m the CEO of Apple and you’ll claim that you were the Marketing Director, and we’re both lying but we both add our testimonials on each other’s page. You might get away with it for a little while.