LinkedIn is an incredibly popular job-seeking platform, but with so many impressive candidates to compete against, you might be tempted to embellish your profile to make it stand out. A little white lie never hurt anyone, right?
While lying on LinkedIn is not uncommon, you should always avoid lying on your profile. Enhancing your profile with targeted job titles is ok, but falsifying education or work history is not. In this article, we'll discuss the correct way to optimize your profile with acceptable enhancements and why it's important to maintain honesty when applying for jobs.
The truth about lying on LinkedIn
The reality of LinkedIn, much like any social media platform, is that people exaggerate, embellish, and outright lie to promote themselves and their businesses, often lying in posts to associate themselves with high-profile brands.
Is lying on LinkedIn ok?
Lying on social media is risky. While it's not illegal, it can have serious professional repercussions, especially if those lies relate to education or work experience. Lying damages your professional reputation, discredits your resume, and sends a poor message about your professional integrity. Any discrepancy between your LinkedIn profile and resume raises serious red flags for recruiters and may lead to your application being rejected.
So, while it can be tempting to exaggerate or invent details to make your profile more competitive, be very cautious to not step over the line between professional promotion and outright lying.
Acceptable enhancements vs harmful lies
Positive self-promotion is what social media is all about. It's fine to enhance your profile by focusing on your positive achievements. Promotion becomes dishonest when your start outright making things up; claiming qualifications you don't have or claiming to have worked for companies you haven't. Enhancements are encouraged. Lying is not.
Acceptable LinkedIn profile enhancements
Here are some common ways to enhance your profile without exaggerating or lying.
Clarifying job titles
Tweaking job titles on LinkedIn for clarity is perfectly acceptable. For example, changing your title from "Chief Business Evangelist" to "Marketing Director" to help convey your role more clearly is fine. Lying about job titles on LinkedIn becomes an issue if you over-exaggerate your title to imply a position you didn't have, such as claiming to be a "Marketing Director" when in reality you were a "Marketing Manager".
It is also acceptable to adjust your title to align with a particular application, as long as the alternate title still accurately describes your duties. For example, a freelance writer could list their job title as "SEO Content Writer", "Professional Copywriter", or "Blogger", which all still convey an accurate depiction of the job.
Rounding up metrics
It's acceptable to round up metrics for readability. For example, instead of stating that you "sold 14,987 tickets", say you "sold 15,000" to make the statement easier to read.
Embellishing your entrepreneurial ventures
If you have a freelance business or work for yourself, it's acceptable to call yourself the "Owner" of your business even if it's not an officially registered corporation. For example, instead of saying "Freelance Consultant," you can call yourself "Owner of Joe Bloggs Consulting".
Including self-taught skills
Including skills learned outside of work on your profile is acceptable, even if you haven't used them professionally. Skills gained through online training or personal projects are great additions to your profile, but make sure not to exaggerate your proficiency.
Unacceptable LinkedIn profile lies
Maintaining honesty during a job application process is essential to create trust between yourself and your employer. While there are no legal consequences for lying on your LinkedIn profile, here are some common lies that are unacceptable for a professional resume.
False job roles
Exaggerating your past responsibilities to the point of fabricating roles you never had is unacceptable on your resume or LinkedIn profile, such as stating you were a manager or supervisor when you weren't. This will quickly come to light when a recruiter checks your references, damaging your professional reputation and likely leading to rejection.
Falsified education background
Lying about education and qualifications is unethical and a major red flag for recruiters. Lying about a degree on LinkedIn, such as claiming you have a Master's when you only have a Bachelor's, falsifying a degree entirely, or claiming you have certificates, diplomas, or licenses you don't, is dishonest and very easy for recruiters to check during the hiring process.
Duration of roles
People often exaggerate the duration of a role to make their past experience seem more impressive. Rounding your experience to the closest month is acceptable, such as stating you worked from "Jan 2020 to Feb 2021" instead of writing the exact dates, but adding extra months or years to a position is unacceptable. And again, lying about how long you worked somewhere is very easy for recruiters to fact-check when contacting your references.
How to enhance your LinkedIn profile without resorting to lies
You don't need to lie on your LinkedIn profile to make your resume stand out. Here are three easy ways to enhance your profile honestly and professionally.
Optimize your profile
Creating a targeted headline, competitive skill list, and optimized job titles can significantly boost your LinkedIn profile. Our free LinkedIn Optimization Tool will help analyze and optimize your current profile to better target your desired field and generate more job opportunities.
Instead of exaggerating or fabricating accomplishments, focus on specific achievements from previous roles to highlight your strengths and skills. Show proof of your skills through quantified metrics to support your claims and provide evidence of your positive contributions.
Boost your credibility through endorsements
Endorsements on LinkedIn add significant credibility to your profile, as they allow previous clients and employers to comment on your past work. Positive endorsements go a long way to boosting your professional reputation and enhancing an already-optimized profile.