LinkedIn: 6 ways to get the truth

If you’re in the business of recruiting, you’re more than likely tapping into the wonders of social media. And if not, you should be. With 470 million members worldwide, and more than eight million active users in Australia*, professional networking site LinkedIn is a global supermarket for potential recruits.

Not only can you research candidates’ backgrounds, LinkedIn is also a hotspot for job ads, with up to 40,000 openings listed in Australia on any given day.

Unfortunately, some people are fairly relaxed about the truth online. So how can you tell whether your dream candidate is lying on their LinkedIn profile? Were they really the head of marketing at a well-known company at age 22? Here are our tips to cutting through to the truth.

Use your common sense

If a candidate’s profile seems too good to be true, follow your instincts and investigate further.

Start by looking at the company your candidate says they worked at, and who else might have held the role ‘head of marketing’. You may discover other people who held the role had significantly more experience, or held the role when your proposed candidate claimed they worked there. If the candidate is not connected to anyone else that worked at the company, did they really work there? Or were there issues?

Be wary of profiles peppered with buzzwords. When a candidate describes themselves as a ‘guru’, ‘prophet’ or ‘ninja’, this may be another way of saying ‘office assistant’.

Incomplete profiles

Maybe your candidate has a very limited profile. Incomplete profiles can be a hint that your candidate isn’t telling the whole truth. What were they doing in that two-year gap between jobs?

If your candidate has multiple LinkedIn profiles, all with different information, the big question is why?

Lack of recommendations or connections

For many people, LinkedIn is as much about networking as job hunting. Many people have a variety of connections to people in their industry. If you come across a profile with few recommendations or connections, ask some questions.

Is your candidate deliberately keeping a low profile because people they know might blow the whistle on their fake accomplishments? Or, are they young, or new to the industry? The onus is on you to check.

Fake LinkedIn profiles

LinkedIn is riddled with fake profiles. Many are used more for phishing scams than genuine job hunting, but you don’t need them showing up and wasting your time when searching for great candidates. Fortunately fakes are easy to pick. The profile photo is often a giveaway. Most hackers use stock photos of attractive men and women. Do a quick reverse image search on a site such as to confirm your suspicions. Beware of engaging with these profiles as they are looking for ways in to steal data. Don’t help them.

Crosscheck Facebook and Twitter

If anything on your candidate’s profile raises queries, a good option is to try scanning their Facebook and Twitter accounts for clues. You may discover gaps in their LinkedIn profile were periods of unemployment, that their role as ‘head of marketing’ involved fetching coffee for the office, or that they never finished their university degree. Or, you might find that everything adds up.

Nothing replaces old-fashioned reference checks

LinkedIn can be incredibly useful for crosschecking the resume sitting on your desk. It gives you a window into the candidate’s world of connections. If they have thoughtful recommendations from former employers and colleagues on their profile, it’s a promising sign.

Even if your candidates profile raises suspicion, don’t be too quick to judge. There can be very reasonable explanations for a gap in employment – travel or illness for example. You just need to ask.

Ultimately, nothing replaces talking directly to previous employers or those who have taken the time to write a recommendation about how good your candidate is.

So embrace LinkedIn, but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, or run a full pre-employment screening. After all, being thorough makes it easier for the great, not fake, candidates to rise to the top of that pile.

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