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As an employer looking for the best candidates online, your search will most likely begin on LinkedIn. Sadly, the reality might be somewhat different from what the candidate’s profile portrays.

A study by LEND EDU revealed that 10% of LinkedIn profiles are entirely untrue, while 34% tend to lie just a little. Most of the dishonesty can be found in the skills section because this is harder to prove than the details about work history.

Furthermore, the use of fake profiles of hackers who want to gain access to businesses and personal data is on the rise. In the past, they were easy to spot with stock images, but the quality has since improved, and it’s more difficult to differentiate it from the real thing.

According to Mike Brown, a Research Analyst on the study, recruiters should approach with caution if a candidate has all the skills they’re looking for because there is a 55% chance that at least one of those skills was fabricated to boost their profile.

When searching for outstanding candidates who could fit the role, how can employers differentiate between truth and lies on a LinkedIn profile?

1. Fake Profile Photos

The first thing you’ll see when you view a candidate’s profile is their profile picture.

Experts say that if the profile picture is too good to be true, then it’s more than likely fake. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a headshot if you won’t even crop it before uploading to your LinkedIn profile?

The reason is that fake authors don’t have time to spend optimizing each profile, because they are too busy building other profiles. Use Google reverse image search to check if it’s a stock image or a stolen picture.

2 Name Oddities

Andy Foote shared this example of a fake profile with an odd name. People who create counterfeit profiles usually lack imagination when creating a name for the profile. For instance, either the name has a strange spelling, or it sounds bland, like Jack Johnson or Jim Jones.

You’ll also notice that they don’t include sufficient personal information within their profile, nor belong to any particular group. Some hackers might go as far as using the name of an obscure actor no one knows.

Domain Name TLDs-LinkedIn Profile

3. Incomplete Profile

Continuing from the previous point, one of the most telling signs of a fake LinkedIn profile is its vagueness. For example, statements tend to be generic, while the summary is lacking and the experience section is empty.

Most people who have a real profile update their hobbies, causes, education, recommendations and write in the first person in the experience or summary sections.

However, fake profiles don’t contain any personal information. They merely cobble together the bare minimum required to open a profile, as well as using a generic job title that doesn’t offer much insight into what their precise role is.

4. Very Few Connections

One sign of a real profile is that you’ll find a mix of relationships from profiles and people. If the links on the profile page are all from one gender, tread cautiously.

Look through their mutual friend’s list, which can be a helpful tool for identifying a fake profile from a real one. Some of the new profiles created are so realistic that they could potentially fool even the smartest social media experts.

If you receive a request from someone such as Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg or anyone of that calibre who isn’t likely to send you an application, it’s probably fake. In 2017, hackers stole over three terabytes of files in an audacious attempt that began on LinkedIn. So, investigate before you accept any dubious invitations.

5 Suspicious Work History

One of the clear signs of a fake profile is that the person in question went to an Ivy League school. If their profile lists that they went to a prestigious school, but their work background suggests more menial work, then you should think twice about going any further.

Look for their current employer online to see if that person works there. Also, check to see whether the other skills and work history details lineup.

6. Endorsements and Premium Flags

You’ll notice that the individual has many connections – probably over 100 – but few endorsements from their peers. Sometimes, there might be a few people who endorse them for everything, which is a sign of social guilt.

People in higher standing positions usually purchase an upgrade for their accounts because it offers better functionality, so you should be careful when someone claims to be a ‘Manager’ but doesn’t buy any upgrades.

7. Details

The more detailed the profile, the better. A LinkedIn profile that lacks occupation and education details is indeed suspect. Some might claim to have studied at Harvard while serving in the military simultaneously.

Take time to look through their skills and education details. Does it add up? If not, it’s probably a fake profile.

8. Poor Spelling and Grammar

Many fake profiles feature presentation errors; a general scan of the profile will usually reveal misspelt words, as well as poor grammar and sentence structure. For instance, they either spell the first and last name in small letters or all in caps.

Every top recruiter will tell you this is not how you present your name on a professional network like LinkedIn, and defaulters are not taken seriously either.

Typically also, fake profiles don’t have any engagement, because they don’t interact with anyone. There won’t be much in the way of content, updates or conversations with other community members.

What to Look for in a Candidate’s Profile?

  • A headshot, not a stock image.
  • A detailed summary section with relevant information about the candidate, such as hobbies and interests.
  • A typo-free headline.
  • A complete profile.
  • Connections and endorsements from community members.
  • Membership of at least one group.
  • The correct LinkedIn number that doesn’t exceed the total number of LinkedIn users.


You might be surprised at the calibre of people falling for fake profiles. There is pressure to build a large LinkedIn society and exaggerate some of the details so that candidates are seemingly more attractive to recruiters.

However, creating a fake profile doesn’t inspire trust or boost domain authority. It only destroys your reputation and has far-reaching consequences that prevent recruiters from connecting with you in the future.

So, take time to conduct a thorough overview of a candidate’s profile before connecting with them or potentially offering them a role in your company.


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