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My boss recently sent out a company-wide email saying something along the lines of:

...Moving forward, we want to ensure that we omit strategic business information from our communications. So in regards to LinkedIn, we would like everyone to forgo any role explanations and to just state job titles. Please remove any job responsibilities, results, or role strategies from your LinkedIn.

I found this request to be very strange, notably the request to remove "job responsibilities." I have always viewed LinkedIn as a personal tool (that is, out of the control of my employer), and as long as the information posted isn't confidential, like a job description, I would assume it is fair game to post. I find it unfair to ask employees to remove information about their employment from their LinkedIn profiles because it makes it more difficult for employees to express their capabilities.

Is my boss' request unreasonable?

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    "Unreasonable" depends on the nature of your business and what you are doing there. – Chan-Ho Suh Sep 2 '15 at 22:57
  • I look at the companies website and press releases and ensure I'm not stating anything they haven't disclosed themselves – MattP Sep 3 '15 at 6:54
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    You admit that you wouldn't post something confidential "like a job description", but you're willing to post job responsibilities. Where exactly is the differentiating line between job description and job responsibilities? – Brandin Sep 3 '15 at 9:50
  • @MattP or look at the Boss' Likedin profile to get an idea of what would be acceptable. – Trickylastname Sep 4 '15 at 19:36
  • My pages on linkedin are more or less an exact rip of the responsibilities / duties section of the job posting / advertisement they put out in public on their own. That's information that they themselves made public :P – schizoid04 Oct 7 '17 at 18:54
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Many of the reporters I follow on Twitter are very good at figuring out the secret plans of large tech companies by seeing what their employees describe as their duties on LinkedIn. Really. (They also do quite well perusing the Experience Required sections of those companies job ads.) If you say you're building a distributed whotsit system with integrated drone capabilities, basically you just publicly announced your company's planned distributed whotsit system with integrated drone capabilities. If you just say you're programming in C# drawing on your strong whotsit background, and you've joined LinkedIn groups about distributed systems design and drone APIs, you've also made the same announcement.

Some managers ask you to think before you show off on LinkedIn, and some give you simple blanket rules like "don't explain the details of your role." Right in the part you quote they say they're worried about strategic business information. (Of course, if you're not working on anything you consider strategic, or important to the company, then that's a shame, and perhaps your manager is just a puffed-up self-important rulesbody who wants to keep you from getting the attention you deserve. In that case you know what to do.)

Can they do this? Employers can ask you I anything they want to, including not to wear yellow shirts on Wednesdays. Can they enforce it? Maybe, maybe not - I don't think your desire to accurately describe your current job in public is a protected right under any country's labour laws. Is this a battle you want to pick? I hope that understanding the reason for management's concern will give you a way to go along with it, at least to some extent. I feel calling it unreasonable comes from a lack of understanding of the motivation.

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    Additionally, I would say that even if only some people at the company might reveal secret plans through their job descriptions on LinkedIn, it's much easier for the company just to say to all staff "don't write anything except your job title" rather than try to individually tell people and teams that are working on unannounced projects. – Carson63000 Sep 3 '15 at 1:48
  • Op did not call it unreasonable. Op asked if it was unreasonable. Otherwise I like you answer but that is an unreasonably harsh closing. Job posting does expose a lot of information. – paparazzo Sep 3 '15 at 5:17
  • @KateGregory - the answer is fine in as far as the employer is concerned, but reading "remove any job responsibilities, results, or role strategies from your LinkedIn." I get the impression they are asking the poster to remove details from ALL jobs, not just the current one, which is a different prospect. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 3 '15 at 8:19
  • Depends on the jurisdiction, but in some cases, the "enforcement" could be getting fired for disclosing intellectual property. Not necessarily a battle you want to take on. – cdkMoose Sep 3 '15 at 16:47
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    @TheWanderingDevManager The OP said the wording was "along the lines of". Maybe the original wording made that point clearer. If the employer wanted me to edit/remove information regarding prior positions that doesn't relate to them, that would be crossing a line from reasonable into unreasonable. – Brandin Sep 4 '15 at 6:03
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If you're going to push back, carefully read your NDA or job contract if you have either. Chances are good that you've signed something which requires you to keep certain company secrets, well, secret.

That includes on linkedin or anywhere else they might be exposed to those outside your company.

You boss is currently going the easy route and requesting that you do this, but they may have some legal levers they can pull if you choose not to comply.

If you still decide you need to keep additional information on linkedin, consider going to your boss and listing the things you'd like to post publicly about, and have a discussion on which items you can and cannot list. It's a lot more work, and unless you're actively searching for a new job there is probably little reason to go to this much trouble, but you can keep a separate document to list activities and other sensitive information and add it to your linkedin once the contracts you've signed expire.

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Short answer: It seems like an unreasonable thing to ask.

LinkedIn is in effect an online CV, would they ask you to omit it from your CV as well? Nothing in there would not be readily available if someone were to ask you for your CV.

Your LinkedIn profile, like any CV, should reflect your skills and experiences. I have landed several contracts based on an initial contact from my detailed LinkedIn profile.

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    If you want to introduce a barrier to employees leaving the company, asking them to scrub their CV is an certainly effective approach. – alroc Sep 3 '15 at 1:36
  • Contractor is another thing. As a contractor even if they asked me to omit certain details about a project I would. – paparazzo Sep 3 '15 at 5:18
  • "I have landed several contracts based on an initial contact from my detailed LinkedIn profile." - Suppose your online profile was just as detailed, but was only missing the details from your current role, or perhaps included only the title and a note such as "Details available upon request" for the current role. Do you really think those contacts would not have contacted you based on this? – Brandin Sep 3 '15 at 9:45
  • @Brandin Quite possibly they would not have. If everyone else's LinkedIn profile has rich experience and skills, and yours is an esoteric job title, who do you think they'll contact first? – Jane S Sep 3 '15 at 9:50
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    I'm just considering a middle ground. Put details for past roles, but for a currently held role, put the job title and a note such as "Job responsibilities/details for current role available upon request" seems like a good compromise. Suppose a competitor of your current employer contacts you? I would want to handle the information I give to them differently in that case. – Brandin Sep 3 '15 at 9:57
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The first part of the request seems reasonable, and may be legally enforceable depending on your job. For instance, if your company has you working on a secret client project, you are likely legally bound to not discuss the project with anyone not on the project. (Legally bound meaning this is company policy that you agreed to when you started working there.)

But, the rest of the request seems like it's doing more disservice to you, in that you are not describing your job fully on LinkedIn. It should be possible for you to explain your work in a way that does not expose any strategic company information, yet still allows you to promote yourself as knowledgeable in your field.

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While this does seem unreasonable, there are also possible ways to work around it. Surely you can still list skills you use on the job as long as you don't list those skills as responsibilities for your current job? Also, while your LinkedIn profile is public, and so your boss can track it, he can't stop you from privately providing your full resume including your job responsibilities to prospective employers.

I would bring up your concerns with your manager, and if you cannot convince him to change his mind, at the least, if you feel your job title is inaccurate, insist on updating it.

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I've worked at places in the past that had requests about any public use of the company's name.

Effectively, if I was going to say I worked at a company in one place (eg, LinkedIn) then I would have to abide by company policy for publicly available statements anywhere else.

While certainly "onerous", this was neatly solved by just not saying i worked at the company anywhere.

I'm still unsure of the use of LinkedIn for jobs - I've never found one using this tool - so I myself would be happy to remove the data from my LinkedIn profile.

You should realise that if you're bandying about the company's name, then you're effectively (and informally) representing yourself as a company spoke person. If the company doesn't want you to reflect some data, then you just shouldn't.

So to that end, I don't see this as an unfair/odd/whatever request. You are using the company name to better present yourself - it is only fair that they have some say in how that name is used.

If they want to go dark, that is their call. Anyway, your job title should almost always capture your job responsibilities (I cannot think of one that doesn't!) so I'm unsure what you think you're missing out on.

If you really don't like it, start job-hunting. If you're planning on staying, your LinkedIn profile hardly matters anyway. At the end of the day, this is a really, really trivial thing to draw a line in the sand over. Draw lines in the sane on pay, or holidays, or maternity leave, or hours worked, not this!

  • Actually, quite a lot of people find jobs (or rather have jobs find them) through LinkedIn. It is an increasingly important way to get leads and be found. – teego1967 Sep 2 '15 at 23:36
  • For what it's worth, my current job title ("Lead developer") doesn't really reflect my current responsibilities (an R&D role). In my case, that's due to working for a small company and nobody having gone through the paperwork to change my title, but it just showed that it can happen. – Philip Kendall Sep 3 '15 at 5:58
  • My role is something like "junior IT specialist". What do I deal with - java programming, databases, system administration? Job title is often not enough. – Karolina Nov 30 '15 at 10:12
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It is an absolutely unreasonable request. It is also a very lazy "blanket" request to a large number of people without much thought towards how such policies will be perceived by people who can easily choose to work elsewhere.

The best response is to leave your profile "as-is" and only consider editing it if you are later individually asked to make a change. Even then, you can probably get away with omitting a few specific details rather than limiting your entry to job-title.

The reason they are asking employees to do this is most likely a very ham-fisted reaction to some incidents of poaching by recruiters. As such, they'll probably think twice about disciplining someone for not complying-- after all, they're using this policy as a lame attempt to increase retention (and not get rid of people).

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I think there are some good answers here but I would like to address
"LinkedIn as a personal tool"

Yes LinkedIn is a personal tool but it is their business and their business name. You put their business name on your LinkedIn and they have rules about how they want their business represented to the public. You may not like the rules but you are using their business name.

Yes it makes it more difficult for employees to express their capabilities but they are not interested in helping you find yout next job.

I know you are not going to think this is same but a low level grunt working for a baseball teams posted that he thought some trade was stupid. He was fired. They had a rule about disparaging comments about the team.

An employer can have rules about how they want their company represented to public. Your company does not want outsiders to know about the inner workings. That is a reasonable position for your company to take. It is pay check.

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    So by that line there are no bad company reviews on Glassdoor (or bad hotel reviews on Tripadvisor), as I'm sure that's not how a company would want to be represented, and you are using their business name so you need to follow their rules? – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 3 '15 at 8:23
  • @TheWanderingDevManager What? You got from that not bad reviews period. What part of an EMPLOYER can have rules is not clear? – paparazzo Sep 3 '15 at 11:37
  • I think it's you that doesn't get it. If I have my own account on Linkedin (as opposed to a paid corporate subscription) the listing is mine, and the employer has no more rights on what I say than one does in a Glassdoor or Tripadvisor listing. If I said something that was incorrect or a fabrication, I'd expect them to request it be changed, but if materially correct, they have no comeback on what I put. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 3 '15 at 11:49
  • @TheWanderingDevManager Yes it is your LinkedIn and yes you can put anything you want in it and your employer can't stop you. If your employer has a policy of not publishing job detail then yes they can do something. They can fire you. – paparazzo Sep 3 '15 at 11:58
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    Yes they can, but the question is "Is my boss' request unreasonable?" - so answering they have their rules about their business name and you need to follow them is not helpful. The answer is Yes they are being unreasonable, especially if this is about all previous jobs, not just the current role with the employer. The poster needs to decide if the point is important enough to stand their ground, yes there may be ramifications but that's a different thing. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 3 '15 at 12:04

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