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I keep coming across people (recommended connections mostly, due to having connections in common) on LinkedIn who have been fired, laid off, "left under a cloud" etc from my employer but their profiles are still as if they work for the employer e.g. 2012-present for the dates. In some cases this is months or longer after actually leaving, and maybe they aren't employed at the moment.

In other cases the employment is correct but with an "inflated" title e.g. Head of XYZ when they are actually XYZ Manager or Coordinator.

Is there anything I can realistically do about this with my company, with the people or with LinkedIn?

Would this typically be considered similar to people who lie on their resume?

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    Remember Hanlon's razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Consider the possibility that they just haven't updated their profiles, rather than consciously decided to misrepresent the facts. – GreenMatt May 18 '16 at 16:48
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    You can't control what people say or do, you can only control how you react to it. – Peter M May 18 '16 at 16:55
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    They probably forgot to update their profile and aren't super active on LinkedIn. I would say the potential for a detrimental impact on your company is minimal. Don't worry about it too much. – MK2000 May 18 '16 at 23:03
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    @GreenMatt in my experience, it's often neither malice nor stupidity, but rather: created LinkedIn profile using work email address; left job; forgot password; can't log in and can't reset password due to no longer having access to associated email. Well, maybe you could call that stupidity. :-) – Carson63000 May 19 '16 at 0:12
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    "I'm an honest person and it irks me" It sounds like you're not so much "honest" as meddlesome. This really isn't something you should care about, let alone act on. If you want to correct the wrongs of this world there are much better things you can spend your energy on. – Lilienthal May 19 '16 at 5:59
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The answer is actually "Yes, but..."

...but first, even if an employee has left under a cloud, be careful that he has not made a private agreement with HR (or his former supervisor) to keep on working as a consultant (in name only) so that he/she could get another job elsewhere as quickly as possible.

And also, this is technically the job of your HR department. So if you're not HR yourself, I'd strongly recommend that you bring this issue up to HR and have them deal with it. That's their job.

That being said, the process of flagging a former employee on linkedin is fairly straightforward.

Three clicks and you're done.

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Also if we're talking about a person who's using a title he never even had in the first place (for instance, let's say he was your subordinate, but he's listing himself using your title and impersonating your role).

Then there is this form which is used for reporting fake profiles and people impersonating others.

Impersonation can be a serious thing. Not only, it can potentially tarnish the reputation of your company and potentially defraud a new employer by claiming to having worked a position that the person never had.

But impersonating a company can be the first step in preparing the ground for a more elaborate form of identity theft, social engineering, and potential fraud. After all, this person probably knows all your vendors and probably has kept all those account numbers and/or cost center numbers, and such an impersonator could do a lot of damage to your company if he/she wanted to.

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Is there anything I can realistically do about this with my company, with the people or with LinkedIn?

Unless you know the individuals personally, there's nothing you can do. Certainly complaining to LinkedIn or your company won't help at all in my experience..

I suppose if you are friends with the "perpetrator" you could say something like "Hey, I was browsing LinkedIn the other day and I happened to notice that your profile is out of date." That could work with some friends, but might offend others.

LinkedIn, while tilted toward professional interests, is still entirely self-directed and self-edited social media. It may actually have a formal mechanism for reporting cases where you don't agree with what is written. I haven't actually seen a case where that accomplished anything.

Users can write anything they choose. They can write the truth, or they can write complete falsehoods - none of it is vetted or curated. A quick search through folks you know will certainly show that.

I suspect much of what you are seeing is due to that fact that most people don't bother to keep their social media very up-to-date. If you took a survey, I suspect you'd find that most people's LinkedIn account is at least mildly out of date. It's often just "one of those things I need to do" that we never quite get around to doing.

I'm an honest person and it irks me that people are "misrepresenting" themselves in this way, presumably for some advantage. Similar to untruths on a resume in my book.

You can be irked if you like, but I think you are overdoing things a bit.

Perhaps most people don't put as much emphasis on LinkedIn as you seem to. I don't personally know anyone who would ever equate LinkedIn with a resume. That includes individuals, recruiters, and hiring managers alike.

  • Thanks, "irked" is milder than angry or whatever, but the reason I equate it with a resume in some sense is that recruiters are trawling it for prospects to reach out to, and presumably the usual cues (e.g. seniority of titles and "it's easier to get a job when you have a job") similarly apply.. – user47059 May 18 '16 at 16:51
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    @user47059, Do you really wish these people to have a harder time finding new work? Some people just treat linkedIn like a rarely updated "monster" profile. If it makes you feel any better, potential employers DO eventually check employment dates, so it is hardly fraud, and there's always the "oops, I forgot to update my profile" excuse. Admittedly, an out-of-date profile might attract more hits but things are hard enough for folks that have been laid off, there's no need to make it worse. Let it slide. – teego1967 May 18 '16 at 23:55
  • This answer is incorrect. It should either be deleted or edited. See workplace.stackexchange.com/a/67383/14577 – Stephan Branczyk May 20 '16 at 18:21
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If these people are intentionally misrepresenting themselves, it will come to bite them in the long run. You don't have to do anything. If someone's presence under your company header, is actively hurting your company, you may have a legal case and go after that person (like a person trying to steal your customers while impersonating to work for your company) but be ready to provide enough proof for that.

Other than that, LinkedIn is another website, just like facebook and/or myspace (does anyone remember that anymore ?) and you can not do squat about what others say or do. If you try to do something it will turn in to a comic strip I have seen before, where the clueless boss was trying to delete something negative (but true) about his company from the whole internet. You can only be a laughing stock if you try this in my opinion.

  • I call it the divine justice. But on the other hand, I somehow sympathize with people who do this due to the getting rid of the stigma of being unemployed. – MelBurslan May 18 '16 at 17:10

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