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My employer insists that everyone's Linkedin profile list their business email address, not their personal email address. Is this typical, standard, or generally accepted practice?

  • 4
    What is your job role? I believe that your current role and responsibilities will influence answers to this question. – Thomas Owens May 19 '15 at 17:28
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    Scratch that, you can add multiple addresses, but I can only figure out how to make one visible. – David K May 19 '15 at 17:38
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    @StephenCollings, which state? – Mr. Mascaro May 19 '15 at 21:11
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    He likely wants you to use the company address in order to snoop on your email, so that if you end up getting some new job offers, he'll know. – o0'. May 20 '15 at 9:28
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    Has your employer provided any rationale for this request? I think it's unreasonable as a general rule, but would find it interesting to know why they think it's reasonable. – Kevin Matheny May 20 '15 at 17:02
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As an individual who is not involved in the recruitment or hiring practices, beyond participating in phone screens and interviews, I would see this as an unreasonable request. All of my profiles, including LinkedIn, are representative of me as an individual and not as an employee of my company. If I'm not using LinkedIn for my job, I don't necessarily want it tied closely to my company.

However, if you are in an HR, recruitment, or upper level management role, this may be a more reasonable request. You may be involved in reaching out to people who are perspective employees or are candidates for a position and these people may be reaching out to you using information found in your profile. I can understand the company's desire to make sure that information that could be related to staffing not be sent to personal email addresses and exposing a personal email address could make this easier.

  • Good answer. As the asker has now stated he is a Director of Engineering it is clear that he is not part of HR but might be part of recruitment or upper level management roles. I can see that some contact might be made with him via LinkedIn as part of the company. However email addresses are usually only visible to contacts. If he does not add contacts as part of his job role, he should be able to decline to have the work email on his profile as it is his. – TafT May 20 '15 at 8:57
  • @TafT You can't do much with previous connections (except unconnect from them). I'm also not sure that refusing new connections is a good idea, since you may meet people that you'd like to recruit or who may eventually be looking for a new opportunity and seek you out. It's one thing if a personal contact emails your personal email address to ask about positions, but another if people you meet and network with at conferences, lectures, or on business trips do the same. – Thomas Owens May 20 '15 at 9:12
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    All good points but if you start down that path of thinking you are ending up duty bound to give up all the contacts generated through work when you leave a position. If work sent you to the conference, lecture or business trip in which you met these people. If that is to be the case then a 2nd account for the company in question seems sensible. Perhaps only have a minimal set of details on there for being found and contacted. Your personal account would end up quite unloved during job roles though. – TafT May 20 '15 at 9:40
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    @TafT I disagree that all contacts generated through work are given up. The whole issue is communication. At the end of the day, you don't want staffing emails outside the company, since staffing and recruitment is generally proprietary and protected information. – Thomas Owens May 20 '15 at 9:57
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    IMO, one missing perspective here is if you are in consulting and actively working on site with clients. In these situations, to clients you are the product your company sells - in this sense, your professional profile and job are very intertwined. – enderland May 20 '15 at 15:03
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If your company set up a profile for you, it's their profile and their rules. If it's your profile, then they cannot force you to change anything about it.

This is what I would consider standard or accepted. However, if you live in a country and state where your employer can fire you anytime for anything he feels like, I guess the word "cannot" becomes meaningless.

  • 7
    LinkedIn's User Agreement (8.2#8) specifically prohibits setting up a profile for someone else. Even if a company disregards that, not allowing employees to exercise free control over their online identity is, depending on your jurisdiction, most likely illegal. As you say though, at-will employment can make the whole point moot. – Lilienthal May 20 '15 at 8:56
  • @Lilienthal Can you quote that part please? In my native translation, it does not say so and LinkedIn seems so smart, it does not let me see the User Agreements in other languages (english for example). – nvoigt May 20 '15 at 10:24
  • Sure, this is what it says for me: 8.2. Don'ts. You agree that you will not: [Bullet 8] Create a Member profile for anyone other than yourself (a real person); I seem to recall this coming up on another question before but couldn't find it again. – Lilienthal May 20 '15 at 10:41
  • @Lilienthal Wow, now that's strange, the German translation completely drops the "yourself" part and only says you must not create a profile for someone that is not a real person. Other bullets cover the point that you may not impersonate somebody else. But creating a profile for an existing person that works for you and will have access to the account would be perfectly fine. – nvoigt May 20 '15 at 10:46
  • Interesting to know. I did a quick search but couldn't find a real discussion of the practice on LinkedIn, though I did find the Q&A on an external site that discussed it and where I found this originally. – Lilienthal May 20 '15 at 10:54
9

If your employer wants you to have a linked-in profile using your business email then why not set one up? It isn't terribly unusual for someone to have two profiles. This would allow you to send a specific "professional page" link to clients with business contact information, and two have two different sets of contacts, which would make more sense than mixing your personal contacts with business contacts.

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    the most important reason for separate work/personal profiles is because using a work address when looking for new employment would be ill advised; and creating a new profile several years later when you decided to look for greener pastures would be a red flag if HR is being snoopy. – Dan Neely May 19 '15 at 21:23
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    Isn't the entire point of Linkedin to "mix" personal and business contacts? In the sense that most of ones personal contacts are old business contacts. – RemcoGerlich May 20 '15 at 8:16
  • Not for me. In a sense, I have two "businesses". One is the job that I am currently working at. The other is, for lack of a better word, myself. One business has lots of recruiters, peers and friends as contacts. The other might have people who I interact with as a representative of the business that I work for. Mingling the two together would make sense if you could be assured that you will never changes jobs, but that isn't something that happens so much these days. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 20 '15 at 17:21
  • The problem with this approach is that his employer is requiring him to put his work email on his LinkedIn profile. Having two wouldn't get around that; he'd just be required to put his work email on both of them. – Kevin Matheny May 21 '15 at 2:18
0

It is not a practice I have encountered before. Were your employer paying for your LinkedIn profile, and your work involved using LinkedIn, then I would find this appropriate.

But, based on this specific response from the poster:

His position was that you would only have your personal email address on your Linkedin account if you were looking for another job.

This seems like a very poor management practice. There are multiple reasons why someone might choose to use a personal rather than a work email. I had my work email as my LinkedIn email for a number of years, because I had no intention of leaving my employer and it was more convenient for me. I switched my email to my personal account more than a year before I departed the company (after 13 years). I was primarily motivated by privacy concerns; not just with regard to potential job offers, but other communications, such as requests for background information or referrals. I felt that it was more appropriate for me to deal with those as an individual than as a representative of the company, which using my work email implied.

With regard to your next steps, you have two choices:

Comply

If you feel that not complying puts your job at risk, or you simply don't care that much, you may choose to comply. The principal consequence, as outlined in other answers, is that all communications from LinkedIn will flow to your work email. I have no expectation of privacy in work email (or on work hardware, for that matter).

You may also choose to comply if you like your job - as I mentioned above, I spent years with my contact email routing to work, because I was using LinkedIn for professional networking and my company was part of my professional identity.

Refuse to comply

If you are comfortable taking the risk of losing your job, or of creating a confrontation with your employer, you may choose not to comply. I don't know your employer or situation, so it's hard to predict what will happen. Some things to consider:

  • Is this policy in writing?
  • Is it consistently enforced?
  • Is it the policy of the company as a whole, or of some managers?
  • Was it communicated as a condition of employment in advance?
  • Have you signed something indicating that you will comply with this policy?

Good luck.

-1

In most professions and locales where LinkedIn matters, your LinkedIn profile matters when you'll seek your next job. Your prospective employer will at least read your profile, and what you write there as well as your connections and endorsements may be instrumental in getting hired. However else your LinkedIn profile might be useful, including as part of your current job, it needs to be suitable for looking for your next job.

This clearly shows that your LinkedIn profile belongs to you as a person, not to your current employer. Your employer has no say as to how you present yourself to other prospective employers, so they have no say as to what you write in your LinkedIn profile, any more than they would have a say as to what you write on your private blog or in the CV that you send privately. (Subject to limits of common decency — they certainly could request that you take down material that is injurious or reveals company confidential data and take sanctions accordingly — but this isn't what this question is about.)

In particular, your employer has no right to impose that you use any particular email address.

Furthermore, you should not use an email address that your employer controls on your LinkedIn profile. You definitely don't want your next job offer to land into your work mailbox where your employer can read it, or risk missing messages send to your LinkedIn account if you're fired and lose access to your work mailbox.

  • I have worked at places that made use of other Linked in features. Social networking is useful in far more than just a job search. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 20 '15 at 17:01
  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame Sure, your Linkedin profile is not useful only for a job search. But it's useful at that time, so it must remain yours, not your employer's. – Gilles May 20 '15 at 17:09
  • Your answer does not make that clear – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 20 '15 at 17:16
  • @ReallyTiredOfThisGame I really don't see how you could read my answer to imply that social networking in general or even LinkedIn in particular would only be useful when looking for a job, but I've added a sentence to explicitly rule out any such interpretation. – Gilles May 20 '15 at 17:27

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