Over the years, I have been dumb-founded by what former employees have written on their LinkedIn profiles about what they did while working at Marketing Eye.

The first one that had me gob-smacked was a French assistant, who wrote that she had developed and managed the Marketing Eye brand, building the company’s marketing strategy and executing it.

In reality, she was a personal assistant, who had poor English and was struggling to do any task at all from an administrative perspective. She didn’t write anything, had no contact at all with design or branding but was excellent at organizing my dinner appointments, assisting me with my wardrobe and in general being a great personal assistant, albeit one that could not write on an email on my behalf because of the poor English factor. She worked for me for a few months only which I did it as a favour for her boyfriend who was a good friend at the time. In the end, I had to tell him, that her English was so bad, I couldn’t afford the luxury of her impeccable taste in clothing, makeup and picking restaurants at that stage of my life.
Why People Who Lie On LinkedIn Get Found Out

I didn’t address the lies on Linkedin, but I was very aware of it. One of my other employees had brought it to my attention. From that job, somehow she got a job as  a marketing person (no doubt helped by her resume that was embellished), and then in no time became a marketing manager.  At no stage, has any person ever rung me for a reference.

The latest is even more ludicrous if that is possible. Once again, a current employee brought to my attention that a unpaid intern, who then became a one to two day per week marketing assistant and for a few months over her University holidays, worked as a marketing co-ordinator, and by her own admission was only as casual employee, stated the following on LinkedIn.
  • Managed up to 30 clients (the portfolio in that particular office didn’t have 30 clients, she had no management duties whatsoever and was given tasks from time to time, but was strictly a marketing coordinator who at times had the opportunity to put together the first draft of marketing copy, that then went to an inhouse writer and marketing manager)
  • Managed up to 8 staff (the office didn’t have 8 staff and certainly as a marketing coordinator, with senior managers and the owner in the office, it is impossible she managed any staff at all). She from time to time gave unpaid interns works to do like follow people on Twitter, search engine optimization or even having a go at writing the basis of a marketing strategy (just like what she did), but certainly NEVER did she manage any staff.
Once again, since she left in January (noting that she only had more paid hours for one to two days per week until November in which she than worked 5 days a week for a couple of months with compulsory 3 weeks holiday over Xmas), she wrote that she worked fulltime as a marketing coordinator for 1.1 years at Marketing Eye.  She has had two jobs since leaving in January – possibly the lies caught up with her but her equally impressive resume continues on LinkedIn. She had fulltime hours for 8 weeks only and that was broken up with 3 weeks holidays which she was not paid for because she was a casual.

Are people employing new recruits without reference checking or are they reference checking with people who have no qualifications or responsibility to those staff members? Perhaps, they are getting their friends to be referencees, who then lie on their behalf.

The question lies with how accurate is LinkedIn profiles and what can a former employer do about correcting information that is just not accurate?

Another example I have is of my clients employees writing on their profile that they developed and managed a website that was built by Marketing Eye as part of their job. They too are in the position of an internship and the only communications we have ever had with that person is to get logo’s of their clients. Yet, their LinkedIn profile reads something completely different.

How employers can mitigate the risk of embellished Linkedin profiles:
  1. Contracts with interns, casuals and employees should stipulate exactly what their roles are and what they may be able after a stipulated timeframe and based on performance communicate in their resumes.
  2. Regular checking of former employees Linkedin profiles
  3. Work with a law firm and develop a legal letter that addresses lies on Linkedin which is sent out as a precaution to people who choose to lie about their experience
  4. Always start with a polite letter then take it seriously and bring in the lawyers – this person is representing your brand on social media and when the next employer realizes it is all lies, they will think less of your brand as well as that person
  5. Support fellow entrepreneurs: Ensuring that the truth on resumes and Linkedin profiles is communicated only, will save them time, money and potentially legal issues of the future.

Why not to sit on your hands
  1. It’s your brand that someone is representing on their resumes and when they move to the next employer, its your brand that they are ambassadors of
  2. Small businesses have enough to deal with and sometimes if you take the time to address these issues you will save them money, time and reputation. Treat other employers as you would like to be treated yourself
  3. What else is this person saying if they can lie so easily to the world on Linkedin  about your brand?
The last note: speaking from experience, last year I hired a person who had on paper exceptional qualifications and upon ringing her last supposed supervisor, received a glowing report.

We employed her, and within days, realised that she had never written a marketing strategy, engaged in any public relations activities, organised the booking of an advertisement, done any social media, direct marketing or fairly much any marketing other than working on a trade booth and coordinating companies who put their brands on Coles shelves.

Clearly, her reference was a friend and she did not have any experience in marketing. She later admitted to this confirming she took the job because she wanted to gain experience. At a high-salary level and due to the fact she had worked with big brands, we let her loose after training her on the administrative side of consultancy and helping her get up-to-date with client work. She also took over from an exceptional marketing manager who excelled in every area of marketing and was completely thorough in every aspect of working with clients and in her hand-over – which made the issue even bigger.

The result: We lost clients, our reputation was in tatters with the clients she was let loose on and with some people, we will never be able to buy back that perception of our brand.

LinkedIn is good for many things but there must be some quality control mechanisms in place to ensure that things like this does not happen.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

1 comment

  • Pamela Murray-Jones

    The same issue has arisen for me.

    On one occasion I was on a selection panel, knew the history of the applicant concerned, and at the end of the interview told the other panel members I was aware that her claims for what she had done in the company (where I had been senior manager at the time) were false - only to be told by the HR Manager the panel could not take my advice into account but they would check with her referees. Fair enough if her referees had worked in the company concerned but they hadn't. Fortunately she didn't get the job.

    However it is even worse when a former subordinate who has been promoted after you left the organisation claims on LinkedIn that SHE worked in the role that you had at the time you were there! Only one of us could have had the job at the time, but what do you do about this one - except make sure you take her (or him) off your Connection list? There does not seem to be any other recourse.

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