June 26, 2023

Cracking the Career Code: How to Ensure Your LinkedIn Looks Legit


Episode Highlights

How to choose a LinkedIn profile photo


Why LinkedIn activity is important when you’re job seeking


The importance of knowing the business


Use talking points, not a script!


Video interviews go a long way


Subscribe to the Talent Insights podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, (recommended for Android users), Amazon Music, or Spotify. Watch us on YouTube—and don’t forget to rate us!

In this episode, Matt and Kierra discuss things you can do to legitimize your LinkedIn Profile. You would be surprised to know the number of fake profiles we come across on LinkedIn daily.  Matt and Kierra go into detail about common trends they have seen with candidates who are certainly not who they say they are. Here are some ways to make sure you are not mistaken as a fake Candidate during your job search. 

Episode Transcript

Welcome back everyone, to another episode of Cracking the Career Code with me, Matt Mulcahy and my co-host Kierra Kohlbeck, where we provide candidates the keys to success in their job search. And today we’re going to be talking about how to ensure your LinkedIn profile looks legit. Cause there’s been a lot of fake candidates that we’ve been dealing with here recently.

Hasn’t there been Kierra? Yeah, quite a bit actually. And what is the stat that what percentage of candidates profiles are fake? Yeah, so we found a company that specializes in detecting fake or fraudulent candidates specifically in tech. And we’ll link that in the comments or the description, so you can check that out.

But they’re saying that 10% of all tech candidates are fake. Yeah. And I would probably agree with that. I have experienced a lot of fake candidates profiles on LinkedIn and so have you. Yeah. A lot recently too. Yeah, very much so recently. So I guess the first point I want to touch on is profile pictures.

There’s a common trend that I’ve seen with profile pictures that happen to be fake candidates. Some of them being like stock images that have been used, a lot with a picture of the back of somebody’s head. Mm-hmm. A side profile picture, tech logo, like a Bitmoji style avatar, and animated art.

So those are all things that, like I’ve noticed, have resulted in candidates not being really legit or not being who they say they are. Yeah. And something Matt and I really like to do when we think that someone is not who they say they are, is reverse image search pictures. And we usually find the exact location of where this picture was taken or the website that the picture was taken from and it’s not linked to the person that they say they are.

Yeah, I’ve even had a source image come back that I reverse image search to a article about LinkedIn profile photos and headshots. So they’re like pulling a fake photo right from there. And I also had a conversation with a candidate recently and he had one of those cool AI generated self-portrait and yeah, it was really cool looking, but I had to break it to him that like a lot of fake candidates use those types of profile pictures.

So it’s best to just have a headshot of yourself. Make sure it’s just you too. I see a lot of times where people have multiple people in their LinkedIn profile photo. That’s great for other social media platforms, but when you’re trying to represent your professional image, it’s best to just keep it simple.

Keep a nice, clean, professional headshot of yourself. Yeah. And it is important to say, this is a professional site. Yeah. So you really want to portray your best self. And if you’re going to include a photo, just make sure it’s straight head on because yeah, you don’t want to be misrepresented on LinkedIn or miss out on a job opportunity because we think that you’re fake as we’re sourcing profiles or reaching out to people for jobs.

Yeah. And I understand there’s some reasons why people might not want to have their profile picture up. And I know sometimes the profile picture only shows up after you’ve connected with someone. I get that. But then when you combine it with like, no profile photo, and then like no last name, just the last initial, that makes recruiters start to think like who is this person?

Why don’t they want all that public? When you’re actively searching for a job, you should think about putting that profile picture public, putting your full first and last name on your LinkedIn profile. You’ll get more reach outs from recruiters like us if you do all that stuff. Yeah, definitely. And then do you want to talk about LinkedIn activity? Like what you see.

Yeah. Yeah. So that’s another thing, like when we’re looking at profiles and we see they might only have a handful of connections or maybe even I would even say like, a hundred, 200 connections is like a pretty low amount of connections.

But when you go to their public profile and you see that they’ve never posted, they’ve never liked anything, they’ve never commented on anything before on LinkedIn, it makes you hesitant to use a LinkedIn credit message, right? Because recruiters only have a certain amount of credits or InMails that they can send per month.

If someone’s not active on LinkedIn. You’re probably less likely as a recruiter to send them a message. So if someone is actively looking for a new job, they’ve got their open to work settings on, think about going on the LinkedIn newsfeed and liking some things, commenting on things. So then recruiters see that like, okay, you’re going to check this message, or you’re more likely to check this message.

When you comment on something, anyone that is connected to that person can see that. So your outreach or who you reach as far as the audience will be much bigger. Yeah. So that’s just a really good point to make when you are actively searching that if you are connecting with people that you know in your network, they do have suggested friends based on who you’re connected with previously to maybe bring up people that you know or could know. But it’s just a great place to network and build that community. So I suggest connecting with anybody that you know and definitely networking with people that are in the same field or industry as you. Yeah.

Yeah, but also another thing that I’ve seen is emails not lining up. So someone has a name on their profile and then a completely different name listed on their email. And typically when we’ve seen that, it’s because that candidate is not who they say they are. I’ve never seen a case where it has not been that.

So definitely make sure that you have your email that’s associated with you and you’re not using a random email or link that doesn’t really make sense, because we do notice that right away. Yeah. And in the theme here of keeping it professional, like first name, last name, @gmail.com, like with some numbers at the end, probably your best bet. Try not to do anything silly or inappropriate because I’ve seen those as well. We also see a lot of candidates where just the work history doesn’t really make sense or like dates are overlapping or someone never closes their end date from when they transition from position to position. So it looks like they have like three full-time roles all at the same time.

Like just take the five seconds that it takes to go edit your profile, make sure you get the right end dates like that could be problematic when you’re actually getting a job. And then the company that you’re joining tries to do an employment verification, and that’s not lining up with what they thought you worked at, you know, a company for. Yeah. It’s super simple, but I see it all the time and I wonder to myself, like, there’s no way this person is doing three roles all at once.

Just change the end date, right. And it is typically like a reflection, a mini reflection of your resume. So you want to showcase yourself and just make sure it’s up to date. I mean I have also talked to many people where there’s just been mistakes. It is very common to make a mistake with your work history, but it’s an easy one that can be avoided. That way that no one has any questions when they’re reaching out to you or talking to you about that.

But as far as identical profiles, Matt and I have came across profiles with different names, but the exact same work history, same exact lingo and wording and bullet points. And we’ve noticed that has oftentimes, lead to multiple profiles being fake. That it’s just someone creating the same profile with different names.

Yeah. And we also see profile fraud too, where like someone could make a Matt Mulcahy profile, right? And like look and feel like they’re a recruiter and maybe like doing some false outreach. That’s happened here recently at Hirewell, so if you ever see someone like that

that’s like duping your profile report that, LinkedIn should take care of it. Another thing is the company that you worked for. When you’re getting to an interview with a recruiter and then beyond that initial step where we’re doing the high level screen, be able to talk about the company that you worked for. Can’t tell you how many times I see a profile and then I go to the company’s LinkedIn page and there’s like one or two employees that have worked there.

There might not be even a website like sure, there may have been like a small startup that you worked for there. So you might want to put some additional details in that part of your LinkedIn profile that shows a blind reader like us who doesn’t know you, that like sure, this company is legit. Here’s what we were doing at the company.

There might not be a website for it now, but like in an interview, I can tell you about it because when we see no one works at that company, there’s no website, there’s no LinkedIn page for it. Like red flags go up from a recruiter’s point of view. Yeah, and I don’t think people always realize that we do look into these companies.

If you don’t tell us about something that you should probably tell us, we will look into it. And it could really ruin your chances for getting a job or being submitted to a job. So it’s important, just be straightforward with that. Recently I’ve had someone who was working for a company that told me about the website that they utilize and created.

And when I went to go look up the website, it was nowhere to be found. So it’s just those types of things that you really want to make sure you explain in detail, so that we don’t run into the confusion. I mean, I’ve also had people, tell me they’ve been working for a company and are just looking for a change.

When I found out that they were the co-owner of the company that they were talking about. So it’s just that honesty piece is really big because we are representing you, and the companies will find that out eventually. So it’s just good to be up straight and honest. And the more honest you are about it, the more transparent we can be about the whole process and get you moving forward.

Yeah, it’s definitely easier to tell the truth and be transparent throughout the recruiting and interview process than to get caught up in this web of lies and falsified experience and background and all of that. And when we get to the interview process, or we’re like doing an initial phone screen with candidates like, all of this suspicion that we have about faked profiles starts to unravel, right? We hear it happen in a lot of different ways. Maybe we’ll like ask a question, there’ll be a long pause, it’s okay to take a couple seconds to think about the answer to a question, but like a suspiciously long pause where maybe the microphone is muted on the other end, and even someone is like talking in the background, feeding this person or this candidate’s lines on what they should be saying.

To a recruiter, like we pick up on that. Like we’re not dumb. Like we get suspicious of it. And we don’t always call it out because sometimes we want to be respectful and give people the benefit of the doubt. But, what are some other ways where like you can tell immediately that this person isn’t who they say they are, or their experience might not line up with what they’re actually saying on paper.

Yeah. So most recently I’ve asked a candidate what their company does, and they asked me to just look it up and I was like, no, just give me like a brief summary. And they read word for word on the company’s website, what the company was. And to me that shows that you’re not knowledgeable enough about the company to give me an explanation.

So I don’t know that you’ve actually worked there. So it’s just important that you are able to talk about the company you’ve worked for and what you’ve worked on. Yeah. We’ve also experienced word for word reading right from the resume. And I get if you’re nervous, that happens. And not every time that it’s a fake candidate that’s reading from their resume, but in order to move forward in the process, you need to be able to speak organically about your experience. Yeah. Because we can see your resume. We can look through that. We don’t need you to read it word for word cause we already have that. So we’re more looking for that conversation and really the details about what you’ve done to really be able to tell if this is a good fit for you and the company.

Yeah, I’ve had that a lot where it seems like someone’s reading from a script, and then I’ll ask like a follow up probing question, like tell me more about this app that you were working on and the technologies that you used. And then they’ll like revert back to saying the exact same thing that they already said before.

Right. And I’m like, all right, this person is definitely reading from a prepared script that who knows if they even wrote it, right? Yep. Yep. And then another, an example is that I’ve called candidates before and their voicemail has gone to a TextNow voicemail box. So, if you’re using a text now number, that’s probably a red flag.

So make sure that the phone number that you’re giving out is just a legit number, so that we aren’t suspicious that it’s a fake phone or fake caller. But what else have you seen? If you have to use a TextNow number, like maybe tell the recruiter like, “Hey, I’m traveling abroad right now, and my US based cell phone isn’t working. Like I’m using this TextNow number.” Or like, let’s hop on a Zoom or a Google meets. If you’re as a job seeker, saying you want to hop on a video call like that goes a long way, we get really suspicious when candidates aren’t willing to do video interviews.

And in our post covid and remote world, like the reality is during interview processes, you’re going to have to be on video, you’re going to have to turn your camera on, and if you’re not willing to do that, it causes some red flags. It’s also just good practice to get prepared for your actual interview. If you hop on a Zoom call with us, you make sure that all of your stuff is working properly and it just helps you get in front of a screen more since you typically won’t get exposure to that if you’re not interviewing actively. But I will say that the majority of the interviews that people do have nowadays, like Matt said, is video calls because it is such a remote world.

And that’s just how people are conducting them, even if it is for an in-person role. So just make sure that you got that figured out and taken care of prior to your calls as well. Yeah. And Kierra, I know you got like some weird responses to messages that kind of raised a flag for you recently. Tell me about that.

Yeah, yeah. So I reached out to a candidate about a job and the only thing they replied with was this person is looking and sent their LinkedIn. And their email. It had no other context. Which is a little strange because if you’re the candidate that’s searching for a role, you would usually provide a little bit more information.

And that’s not to say that people don’t give me referrals or respond with, I’m not currently interested, but I do have a friend that is, that’s pretty normal and that happens quite a bit. But to just send somebody else’s profile and all their information and just say, this person is looking, that’s a little suspicious because that shows that you’re maybe not the person that you are portraying on LinkedIn. And I can totally be wrong about that, but that’s just what it gives off. Sure. Sure. Yeah. Well, we hope this was helpful for you all today. And you know how to make some modifications to your LinkedIn profiles to make sure they, they look legit.

We’d love to hear any stories in the comments that you have about fake candidates, other recruiters, or other people that have dealt with some fraudulent profiles on LinkedIn. But want to thank you all for joining today on Cracking the Career Code. Go check out talentinsights.hirewell.com for more content and follow us on LinkedIn if you’re not already.

Thanks everyone. Thanks.

More from Talent Insights

Episode 36
As a remote worker, it can be easy to find yourself overworking because it’s hard to just “close the laptop” or ignore the work...

Episode 35
This past season of The Bachelor was unlike anything we’ve seen before. One of the final contestants made the unprecedented decision to remove...

Episode 38
In this episode, Dan and Louie start by chatting through the new MLB Season kicking off with Dan’s Pirates going 5-0 out of...

Episode 34
 The struggles of being a newbie on the team are vast, especially in a remote work environment. Join Liz and Shania as they...

Episode 23
Creating a positive candidate experience is crucial in the hiring process. Regardless of whether a company ends up making an offer, candidates should...

Episode 22
In this episode of Cracking the Career Code, Matt and Kierra discuss the importance of having a clearly defined interview process. They stress...

Our Shows

Our Latest Blog

The Green Banner debate is over

And stop being so serious. The dumbest debate on LinkedIn (and there’s a lot of contenders) is if the “Open To Work” green banner is good or bad. That debate is over. If you’re not familiar with the controversy: Pro-Green Banner people like ...