By Rachel Bernasconi and Amanda Cavanough
LinkedIn is the biggest online network of professionals in the world. Many employers encourage staff to use LinkedIn to promote their organisation.
While employees may share content relating to their organisation, they tend to think of their profile as personal to them, like a resume, which is available to recruiters, colleagues and clients.
Yes, the LinkedIn account belongs to the individual, but that doesn’t mean that ‘anything goes’.
On signing up, you agree with LinkedIn to provide truthful information and to not misrepresent your current or previous positions or qualifications. Even so, we have all noticed information on LinkedIn that isn’t 100% accurate.
You may have had a similar experience where you look up a contact on LinkedIn, and their profile shows them at a job they left months ago.
Perhaps they are on gardening leave, or they have been exited against their will and don’t want to say they are unemployed. There is the potential that their account was connected to a work email address that they can no longer access, and signing back in has become too problematic.
But in more concerning circumstances, some people use their LinkedIn profile to paper over gaps in a resume – this is an age-old issue, but with LinkedIn and online platforms, it is increasingly visible.
Other than getting frustrated, what can employers do when an employee fails to update their LinkedIn profile?
There are options to manage this risk as an employer:
- Writing to the employee and asking them to correct the details
- Using the LinkedIn feature to ‘disconnect’ that contact from your organisation, removing them from search results and the list of employees
- Reminding departing employees of expectations in exit interviews
- Including a term of a release agreement or deed which can be specifically enforced if necessary.
Is it worth the trouble from a commercial perspective? The answer may well depend on the individual involved. It is always a balancing act, but when rights and obligations are clearly defined, resources like LinkedIn are proven to work in everyone’s interest.