Report questions reliability of LinkedIn profiles as recruitment tool

Recruiters using LinkedIn to source candidates should approach the information on the site with “a healthy amount of scepticism” as many profiles are exaggerated or out of date, a report has warned.

Nearly one respondent in 10 (9%) who said that they had an up-to-date LinkedIn profile admitted they had embellished their career achievements on their profile, in a survey conducted by research firm the ICM Group.

The research also found that the size of candidates’ networks may not be reliable, with 30% of users admitting to accepting a request from someone they didn’t know and 16% sending connection requests to people they hadn’t met.

In addition, 10% of respondents with an up-to-date profile said that they had asked someone to recommend them via the site on the basis that they would do so in return and 7% had written flattering or exaggerated recommendations as a favour to a connection.

The online survey of 2,028 adults found that 22% of respondents have or have previously had a profile on the networking site, of which 34% said their LinkedIn page was up to date, 46% said it was out of date and 20% no longer used it.

Gareth Jones, head of product strategy at talent consultancy The Chemistry Group and co-founder of HR social community ConnectingHR, added that LinkedIn, like a CV, should only be used as a starting point in the recruitment process.

He said: “The bottom line is that, despite the hype about LinkedIn, it is not social media, it is an online rolodex. Fundamentally, what LinkedIn has done is to put the CV online and make it searchable and universally accessible. A great achievement, yes, but many of the problems inherent with a CV simply transfer with it.

“On the positive side, I would say that LinkedIn encourages a more proactive approach to recruitment. Recruiters go looking and searching for people, as opposed to the more reactive ‘bang an advert up and sift through whatever response we get’ approach, which has driven huge inefficiencies throughout the recruitment process.”

Tom Hadley, director of policy and professional services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, added that LinkedIn profiles should not always be taken at face value.

“The work of any recruiter, whether in-house or in an agency, is to dig beneath the CV to find out who the person is and what makes them tick,” he explained. “A LinkedIn page is something you can use to source candidates but, ultimately, you need to test and not rely completely on everything that is on these sorts of pages.

“In some ways, LinkedIn has made it easier for recruiters to source candidates but the reality is the top talent probably aren’t the ones promoting the fact they are looking for a job. For recruiters, there is still a lot of running to do to find top talent who might not be actively looking to move jobs but are interested in new opportunities.”

Maurice Fyles, research director at ICM Group, agreed that, while recruiters should be cautious about LinkedIn profiles, many are already aware of the dangers.

“From our interviews with professional recruiters it is evident that they find LinkedIn a useful way of identifying and engaging potential candidates who might previously have remained unknown to them,” said Fyles.

“It also seems that they are aware of some of the ways it is being used and misused and approach the information on LinkedIn with a healthy amount of scepticism.”

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