Emily Yoffe: Hey, Ashley, Congratulations! I just read on your profile that you’re the new CEO of the company!
Farhad Manjoo: I’m Slate’s technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo.
Emily: I’m Emily Yoffe, Slate’s Dear Prudence advice columnist. And this is Manners for the Digital Age.
Farhad: Today’s question is from a listener whose colleague is trying to steal his professional thunder. He writes, “Dear Farhad and Emily, a coworker of mine has misrepresented herself on LinkedIn. She exaggerated her title and experience. To make matters worse, her exaggerated job position is the position I currently hold. What’s the proper way to deal with this? Should I confront her directly or should I let her résumé fabrications catch up with her?” Signed, Résumé Robbed.
So, Emily, have you ever seen anyone lie on their LinkedIn profile, and what do you do about it?
Emily: I have a LinkedIn profile, but I don’t know how to access it or anyone else’s, so I can’t say I’ve tracked that too closely. But if I were Director of Sales at a company and I saw an Assistant Marketing person had listed on her LinkedIn profile that she was Director of Sales, I do think I’d go over to her and say, in a very low-key way, “Caroline, I saw that on your profile your job title is actually my job title. You probably want to go and fix that.”
Farhad: I would agree with you. I think the whole point of LinkedIn is it functions as a public résumé, and the public-ness of it means that whatever you put up there is going to be vetted by other people – by your coworkers, by people in your industry.
So for somebody to lie on LinkedIn, I think it speaks worse of that person than if they would just had their résumé the old-fashioned way. It suggests a real idiocy, I think. So, yes, I think this person should confront her and if this resume padder doesn’t take down this total lie, they could go to the boss or do something even more than that. I think it calls for that.
Emily: This is the question. I don’t want to call it “confront.” I think you have to do it in a low-key way, because things at the office can blow up and get out of control in a way you can regret. I think instead of saying, “I note that every fact on your profile is a lie,” I think you should keep it to the thing that materially affects you.
Then, if when you check on the LinkedIn profile, what if you see she doesn’t change it? That’s the question. I’m a little torn. Do you go to the supervisor? Do you go up the ranks? Is the LinkedIn profile a function of the company or is that something personal?