Emerging Technology

LinkedIn job seekers “exaggerate” profiles – how to spot the lies

Yolanda Redrup /

Employers believe the majority of job seekers are lying or exaggerating their skills on their LinkedIn profiles, as recruiters emphasise the continued need for traditional employment checks alongside newer methods of investigation on social media.

An incomplete profile, minimal information and multiple profiles are among some of the warning signs, experts warn.

A study by recruitment firm Employment Office of 300 Australian employers found 82% of respondents believed candidates lied or exaggerated their skills and experience on their LinkedIn profiles.

The survey also revealed 67% of employers think job titles and responsibilities in previous roles are the most unreliable pieces of information. Fifteen per cent believed periods of unemployment to be untrustworthy and 12% ranked education and qualifications as the most likely sections to be fabricated or embellished.

There are over four million Australian members on the professional networking site and it is a popular source of talent for recruitment companies with over 500 recruitment companies using LinkedIn.

Associate director of information technology at employment company Randstad, Alex Jones, told SmartCompany LinkedIn is a useful online networking tool, but when it comes to recruitment, a proven vetting process is still important.

“You need to go through the traditional methodologies to determine if what they say is truthful. Employers need to get a hardcopy resume as well as checking their LinkedIn profile, interview them to verify their skills, and then do a background check on their education history and talk to referees,” he says.

Jones says there are a number of warning signs an employer can look out for when determining if a potential employee has lied on their resume.

“Warning signs would be having an incomplete profile, providing minimal information, having multiple profiles displaying different information and a lack of recommendations or connections. This isn’t necessarily an indication that they’re lying but it does show you need to dig deeper.

“You should also look out for unusual career paths and inflated job profiles,” he says.

Jones says an employer should also look into the companies a job seeker has claimed to work for on their profile.

“Look into the company and see if there are two people working at the same company doing the same job. That’s a definite warning flag,” he says.

Employment Office managing director Tudor Marsden-Huggins told SmartCompany people are more casual online and greater scrutiny is needed of LinkedIn profiles.

“The feedback from our clients suggests people find candidates’ LinkedIn profiles are inconsistent with their resumes.

“Employers frequently find people list qualifications which they haven’t necessarily completed. People are more casual online and on social media, so they’ll say they’ve completed a degree when actually they deferred it or they haven’t completed it yet,” he says.

Jones and Marsden-Huggins agreed recommendations on LinkedIn also do not have the same authority as written references.

“Recommendations on LinkedIn are often from friends or co-workers. Look and find out if they’re a friend or a manager,” Marsden-Huggins says.

Jones says it’s important for employers to remember LinkedIn is often used as a networking site, not a way to find employment, and people can choose to limit the detail on their profiles.

“It depends with how you’re looking at LinkedIn, as a professional network or from the recruitment perspective.

“A lot of people are on LinkedIn for networking, not job seeking, and they may not have written a profile which matches their resume. It’s not a job board, it’s a networking tool,” he says.

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