Lying on LinkedIn: How to Spot Fake Credentials on LinkedIn

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on July 7, 2021

LinkedIn is known for being a realm of qualified potential candidates for your job opening. With 722 million members, it’s no wonder that millions of recruiters and employers are scouring profiles in hopes of connecting with qualified applicants. For some recruiters, mass emailing potential candidates is a numbers game. If they send out invitations to hundreds of applicants, they may receive a few skilled, interested candidates for their job. With LinkedIn charging a fee for emailing prospective job applicants, the cost of following this method is financially impossible for small businesses.

To help you determine whether an individual is suited for the position, or simply sharing fake credentials, here are a few items to carefully review:

Carefully consider any employment history on their profile

One of the easiest ways to inflate a resume is by falsely padding the employment history. Often, many companies don’t monitor their staff directory, nor do they take the time to review who has them shared as an employer. This separation from their online profile leaves many of the credentials on the platform as suspicious, especially for a small business owner trying to identify qualified individuals.

Warning flag: If you notice an individual has a high-ranking position within a well-known company, always verify the credentials. Take a close look at their listed skills and qualifications, especially with jobs requiring post-secondary education. A qualified candidate will have both their employment and their education filled in.

Minimal activity on the LinkedIn platform

Although not every individual will use LinkedIn daily, active users are the people you’d like to target. After all, sending an invite to connect to an inactive user will not result in positive deliverables. Take a look through their posts and see what type of content they’re sharing. Are they positive and posting inspirational pieces? Perhaps they enjoy commenting on the latest industry news. Look for individuals who keep their page professional, positive, and influential. You want a forward-thinking team player, not someone negative.

Warning flag: Should an individual continually post controversial, harmful, or condescending content on their personal page, it’s a wise idea to steer clear altogether. Remember, your staff and employees are a direct extension of your company. What they share across social media will indirectly be connected with the business name. Likewise, if the profile is dormant with minimal details posted, it’s likely not worth the invitation to inbox them with a request to connect. Many users on the platform are actively involved in conversations, posts, and sharing relevant industry news.

Credentials don’t match the dates or age of the candidate

Although we’ve all heard of overachievers in our lives, many boasting on LinkedIn is simply over embellishing. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, especially with younger generations. For those individuals with excessive post-secondary educations, ask yourself about the expected completion dates of such degrees. Two years ago, if they graduated high school but already claimed a master’s degree in business, they’re lying about the degree.

To avoid investing time with people posting fake credentials, always look at both the institution they attended, the address of the individual (if shown on the resume), the degree obtained, and the program duration. Pay careful attention to the spelling of the degree and program. A chemical engineer, for example, requires a university degree. A chemical engineer technician only requires a college diploma. Both of these seem similar but are vastly different qualifications.

Always verify any credentials from qualified individuals

Whether you’ve posted your job opening through the platform or you’ve contacted potential applicants on your own, verifying the qualifications of applicants is a critical step in the hiring process. An online background check can help you determine the employment history, criminal history, and educational history of each candidate, along with other essential information. 

When ordering the background check, you’ll need written authorization within the United States. Once you’ve received the approval, run the background check. Always double-check the spelling of the applicant’s name and the city and state of residence. If the background check report fails to indicate any of the employment histories they have listed, there’s a good chance the information is fake. Likewise, most individuals from accredited post-secondary institutions will share the certificate or diploma details. For education information not appearing on the report, contact the school’s administrative offices; many administrative clerks can confirm certificate details, enrollment, and graduation dates if needed.

Consider using a search engine to confirm details online

Often, the easiest method of confirming information stated on a LinkedIn profile is through a quick Google search. Spend a few minutes researching business names, date of operation, email addresses, and business addresses. If an individual has posted, they’ve been employed at a company for 15 years, but the company has only been operational for 11 years, they’ve lied on their profile. 

Always make sure to review each company for multiple locations, sister companies (often a wide array of companies under different names, but one primary company name), and any recent location closures. Just because someone has indicated they’ve worked in the Nevada branch, but that doesn’t exist currently, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist during the dates they’ve included.

Look at their LinkedIn Connections

This area can often be a tricky balance of beneficial connections and spam invitations. When evaluating a potential applicant, closely look for any mutual relations. Many within the industry will be connected to similar people. If an individual has worked in car sales their whole working life yet has no connections to friends, coworkers, or anyone within the industry, it should raise suspicions. Likewise, pay attention to any recommendations on their profile from unrelated industries. 

Although a car salesperson may have recommendations from clients, there’s a low chance that a delivery driver and a CEO of another industry will have mutual connections. Although less likely now, paid recommendations from fake profiles can happen on LinkedIn, especially for individuals looking for contract work or new employment. 

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 40+ early stage startups through 2021.

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