LinkedIn: Lying on Profiles and Other Insights

January 30, 2012

LinkedIn did a nice thing this January. They have decided to send me (and I guess a lot of other people) an email indicating how people changed their jobs in 2011.

For me it was titled “Tsahi, 134 connections changed jobs in 2011”.

The email itself has little text in it and is built out of a nice collection of faces where I can go and check out profiles of people that have changed their job titles. It also comes with a few nice call for actions in blue boxes on random people. All in all, it shows 57 of the connections that presumably changed their jobs in 2011.

My first thought: what do they want from me now?

My second one: that’s a cool layout. interesting.

My third one: what did she do? (then looked at her profile…) so she’s now not self-employed?

My fourth: but that guy didn’t really change his job.

Which then made me think about writing a post on this email. And also caused me to look a bit closer at what I can glean out of this shortlist of people. Here are a few insights I got to after some more digging around:

18% of my Contacts Made Changes This Year

That’s one in every five people. My contacts replace their jobs every 5-6 years or so, which is probably above average for my industry. They are even slower to change work places because some of them are simply changing their titles in their current work place.

It also means it was time for me for a change, which I just did – you might be getting an email with my smiling face from LinkedIn next January.

People Lie on their Profiles

When I became a project leader and had to start looking at CVs of potential engineers for the team, I was taught to look at discrepancies in the information: missing years when the candidate wasn’t employed at all, employment for short periods of time, etc.

I am as straight as an arrow when it comes to these things, so up until now, it never really occurred to me that people can actually lie in CVs. Well… they can. And they do. And then they do it on their LinkedIn profiles as well. I caught a few discrepancies in there when I looked closer. Here are a few that I found:

  • People change their titles without any real reason – sometimes not lying but just trying to get better salaries or hit consultancy projects
  • People lengthen their stay longer than they actually worked at a place – that would be to close any opened gaps that meant they searched but couldn’t find a job or just decided to take the time off
  • In most cases, those that lied are people I cared less about

I googled a bit, and found this interesting post from Jame Ervin – I sure don’t want to work with the person he’s describing.

Most People Connect LinkedIn to their Private Emails

There’s a lot of gmail and Yahoo mail addresses for my contacts on LinkedIn and very little corporate emails configured as the primary address. It makes sense.

My own profile was connected to my RADVISION’s email until a month ago, along with 40+ other web outposts that I “owned”. It took a lot of time to reconfigure them all. It seems that my colleagues are a lot smarter than I am.

LinkedIn is the Coolest Tool

It takes a lot less time to cultivate than Facebook or Twitter – at least for me. And it provides me useful information about people, especially when it is hooked up with Rapportive and my gmail account.

Some Final Thoughts

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t lie. Especially not on LinkedIn. It’s not worth it. Being honest gives you extra credit in places that you’d really want to work for
  • Polish up your LinkedIn profile every once in a while even if you’re not leaving. Also make sure to use a personal email and not your corporate one as the primary email of your account
  • Add a picture of yourself to LinkedIn. It looks like a sad profile without it (and there are a few of those for my contacts)
  • Recommend people that you think are worth it. I do that whenever I move on or when others leave the company. It strengthen the connection with these colleagues and enhances the power of your LinkedIn network
  • If you’re recruiting – validate information against what the person says, his CV, his LinkedIn and the people he gave as recommenders. Check his recommenders out on LinkedIn before you talk to them as part of the validation process

Anything that you can glean out of the LinkedIn-2011-job-changes-email you received?

Any other suggestions you have?

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  1. One of the interesting things I have noticed with Linkedin, which is not necessarily connected with how people have changed job in 2011, is that I often receive emails from recruiters trying to see if I am interested in some job. That’s flattering, however, it seems most of the people do not look at the Linkedin profile at all because they offer me positions that are off track from my “CV”. Why they do so?
    I even got contacted by Google once, and started an interview process which died when I got a marketing guy calling me and asking me what I thought Google should do to expand and that was 2008(and I answered, some social networking tool like Facebook, but definitely not Orkut – the guy laughed at me at the phone… what about Google Plus?), which again shows that recruiters are not really looking at the profiles properly…
    It seems an utterly huge waste of time for everyone, then?

    1. Arianna,

      I believe that some are trying to treat these platforms like spammers – you go after everyone in a pursuit to catch a single person. It doesn’t make sense today – especially when it is so easy to see it from the other side.

  2. Great insites Tshai,
    Some of my own ideas regarding Linkedin.

    1. Linkedin is one of these sites that represents yourself to all your companions. These lie you were talking about are a way to make these people look better for their self, opposed to their classmates / old co-workers etc’

    2. It a great tool to keep in touch with people that aren’t your close friends and may meet you along the way and support each other. This could be to find a new job, new customer, new mentor etc’. You never know whose help you’ll need across the way and you won’t necessary remember them.

    3. I used this tool when interviewing people for jobs. If it was to
    validate their C.Vs (uncorrelated ones were thrown to the trash). Others I have found people to ask for recommendation as we had common friends.

    4. This tool must be used constantly as it is pretty obvious to see when someone is looking for a new opportunity when his Linkedin profiles get constantly changing. (Now I have understood why your profile was operational recently).

    5. You can find great collaboration with people with the same professional and interests that you have. Without this tool it would have been impossible.

    6. Your greatest opportunity can come out of this tool as people are searching to find that right person with your qualification. Another reason why it should be updated and telling the truth.

    1. Ori – thanks – these are valid points.

      As for my activity – I actually “lived” inside LinkedIn for several years now, polishing my profile and cultivating future connections.
      Once I landed on new opportunities and handed in my resignation, I started doing something that I do too little of – I started telling people how great they are – without their request and without any need or suggestion of reciprocation from their side. It made me feel great and it got me an additional exchange of private emails with the people I value.


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