Punk Rock HR Question: LinkedIn & Digital Reputations

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Jeffrey asks a question about digital reputations, companies, and LinkedIn.

I’d love to hear what you think.

As companies are considering their online reputations, what can they do about a former employee who still shows the company as his current employer on his LinkedIn profile? And is there a difference if the person leaves is laid off/fired or leaves on good terms?

I am adamant about this: you own your digital profile and reputation, not your employer. LinkedIn is a destination where you can describe yourself in your own words. It’s not a legal representation of your employment history. It’s not the bible. You don’t have an obligation to keep that profile current or accurate.

Furthermore, a company’s digital reputation is bigger than your work history.

  • Smart companies ensure that employees sign an employment agreement with an anti-disparagement clause. If you say that you’re the former CEO and you were really just a network administrator, they could invoke that clause and come after you.
  • If you’ve been fired for being a pervert or a jerk, your termination paperwork was most likely written in a smart way. You probably signed a release & waiver that gave you a little cash in exchange for a commitment to behave in an upstanding way post-employment. Basically, you won’t make wild claims or say unflattering things about your former employer because you have a little cash in your pocket and a legal document that governs your behaviors.

Honestly, I take a more laid-back approach to social media and employment. If you look for a job and the information on the internet or your resume is grossly inaccurate, the marketplace will suss you out. If you make arrogant statements about your skills or lie about your employment, you will be caught. That’s how it works.

If you overstate your title by calling yourself a Senior Analyst instead of an analyst, the world won’t end. No one gives a rip if you’re fired from your job and you neglect to update your LinkedIn profile. And if some chumpy ‘social media consultant’ gives a rip and says that an inaccurate LinkedIn profile represents a serious and important threat to a company’s digital reputation, feel free to roll your eyes.

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