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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Can New Technology Tell If You’re Lying on LinkedIn?

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At the last count, LinkedIn says it has about 850 million members worldwide. However, unless a user takes the time to fill out a form that identifies false or inaccurate information about a rogue account, it is nearly impossible for the social media platform to determine whether profiles contain false claims about a person’s education or work. One study found that: 34% of LinkedIn profiles contain false or misleading information.

Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, discovered this firsthand when it discovered that about only 50 profiles of 7,000 who claimed to be Binance employees on LinkedIn were actually employed by the company. Since LinkedIn is the most popular site for businesses on social media, this should be alarming. A flood of fake employees threatening a company’s brand can happen to any company, with very little consequence.

Millions of professional recruiters, human resources and hiring managers use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates for open positions. LinkedIn profiles containing lies about employment, degrees and certifications earned can be a major headache for employers. Hiring misfires can cost thousands of dollars to correct.

And if you’re wondering why someone would risk lying about their education on LinkedIn, take a look at the economics of risk. A person with a master’s degree in biology may require twice the salary from someone who enters the labor market with a bachelor’s degree. And with a slim chance of getting caught, many people are willing to sacrifice ethics for the chance to jump a few steps up the corporate ladder.

Nearly 70% of companies try verify employment before anyone made an offer, but until now there was no streamlined way to do it. Clearly, the candidate verification process needs to move from relying on analog reporting to an automated system that leverages current technology.

What if there were a way to connect directly to an institution’s database to prove, say, that a candidate actually graduated from Columbia or Wharton with a master’s degree in finance? In our current era of blockchain and even recent advances in database technology, it shouldn’t be that hard to expose the fakes.

While there will always be a few people wary of more monitoring technology, verifying the truth about what someone has posted on their profile doesn’t have to be invasive, and it doesn’t require tracking cookies like today’s digital ads. Immediate verification should be welcome for recent graduates embarking on careers in competitive industries. Someone with a legitimate higher degree (and the college debt that often comes with it) should be relieved to have the option to have their credentials verified so they aren’t compared to people with fluff-filled resumes.

A direct, accurate verification of education or employment is a solution. Currently, there are two accurate ways to offer automated verification. One is through a custom, frictionless application programming interface, or API, that integrates with a company’s recruiting software and workflow. The other is a web-based platform that verifies the information a candidate reports. For convenience, neither method requires end-user data storage. Anything submitted can be deleted once verification is complete.

There is no reason why the same technology cannot also be used to verify employment data. Imagine if all those real Binance employees had a verification badge next to their work history on their LinkedIn profiles. That would be enough to discourage anyone who is tempted to misrepresent their employment with Binance in order to commit the fraud. It would also prevent someone from making an honest mistake in their profile.

Knowing that education and employment claims are accurate is a win-win for the company doing the recruiting and the viable applicant.

The technology is already available. It’s time we started using it to support the qualified and expose the liars. Someone who doesn’t have a degree shouldn’t be able to type “Harvard” into their LinkedIn profile and get away with it.


Chris Harper is the CEO of zipped script.

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