Job Applicant May Have Misrepresented Resume?
February 16, 2015 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Former coworker is asking me to help him find a job at current company. Found out that he may have misrepresented his work history - what do I do?

A former coworker that was on my team reached out to me and asked me to refer him to current company. I did and he ended up doing well in the interview process - and now is in the final stages (I think he has one more interview).

I was excited for him until I looked at his LinkedIn profile. I noticed that he had changed it a week ago - and that he had changed his job titles. He was on my team and had my same time, and then changed teams that had a slightly different title, but wasn't a more senior role. He had changed it so that it looked like he was always on the second team, and then was promoted. To make it simpler, here is an example (not his actual titles): he was "Supervisor of Operations" for a few months, and then was "Supervisor of Computers" for a few months. But he changed it to "Supervisor of Computers" for a few months (when he wasn't) to "Senior Supervisor of Computers." I suppose he is doing this since he is interviewing for a role that is a supervisor of computers.

I'm fairly certain that this is an inaccurate record (and puzzling since this is his Linkedin). The question is - is it my business to do something? I mean, I don't know what his resume says when he submitted it to my company. I also don't want a dishonest coworker and definitely don't want a dishonest coworker that I referred. Since I am in the position to know since I actually worked there and others may not - am I obligated to say something? And to whom - HR or him?
posted by pando11 to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: had my same title*
posted by pando11 at 12:10 PM on February 16, 2015

This sounds like nitpicking. I'd imagine a mix of fudging titles on his part to best represent what he wants to highlight, and trying to keep his LinkedIn simple. I'd let it go. Especially since you might be wrong.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:18 PM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

I wouldn't say anything unless he was terrible when you last worked with him and you want to torpedo his chances. But if that was true you probably wouldn't have referred him in the first place.

Don't get hung up on small title differences like this. You know the guy. You worked with him. Was he a decent employee? Is he capable of doing this new job? These questions are a lot more important than his previous title.
posted by ryanrs at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

It is HR's job to do due diligence here, not yours. Presumably this guy is a good coworker or you wouldn't have recommended him; given that, I would keep out of it. Title-fudging, while not great, isn't exactly fabricating a degree.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure titles by themselves are that important - except where there is an actual industry-standard meaning to the title or a certification involved. When I interviewed people, we didn't care about their possibly inflated titles but about what they actually did. We just took it as given that everyone inflates their title.

Did he lie about his responsibilities, claiming to have done things he didn't do? In that case, he is being dishonest. Did he merely inflate his titles? If so, I don't see that as a major issue here...
posted by vacapinta at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I just wanted to clarify if that it's not just an "inflating of the titles" - it's a pretty different role that comes with the title. The change in the title indicates that he had different responsibilities. However, his latest job WAS what he is interviewing for.

I think he is capable of the job. I didn't know him super well at my other job, but I wanted to help him out when he asked me to refer him. I will stay out out of it - just kind of bothered that he would fudge the titles. Didn't realize it was a common thing to do.
posted by pando11 at 12:31 PM on February 16, 2015

Best answer: I would ignore what he puts up on Linkedin; as other posters mention, job titles are often inflated. But I WOULD tell the precise truth if the new company calls you, no more and no less, about the groups he worked with, his titles, and his job duties.
posted by easily confused at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

It's not something to worry about. Employers & HR pros know that job titles mean almost nothing. What they want to know is that the person can do the job and there are no big risks in hiring them. Changing job titles on resumes is often done just to make more sense to people outside of your organisation. It's not about being dishonest.
posted by stellathon at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

How long ago did you actually work with him? If it was a while, he might legitimately have forgotten the precise title and is trying to approximate it as well as possible in retrospect. As an example from my own life: I personally think titles are 99% bullshit and while I realize I will never win this war, I have trouble remembering them exactly as a result. When I joined linkedin, I filled in what I recalled as my title from a job I'd left 6 years prior; when I later found my hiring paperwork by sheer coincidence, I realized I had been way off. So, oops, I fixed it. I would have been highly annoyed if my former coworkers had followed me around telling potential employers on me - it was literally an accident with zero deceptive intent.

As another potential explanation, he might be "conforming" his prior title to the title at his new job. For instance, they are looking for "director of computers," and when he reads the job requirements, he realized 75% of this stuff is what he did at his prior job where they called it "director of operations." Since the new job calls this "director of computers," he writes that he has previously been a director of computers - it's mostly true in any sense that they actually care about. You can call this lying, but I think it's actually defensible because internal titles within an organization are often totally arbitrary and/or a result of political wrangling, to the point where they are meaningless to anyone on the outside.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:59 PM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

Do NOT stir up a can of worms solely based on a LinkedIn profile!

There is nothing official about a LinkedIn profile. It is really common for people to fudge their titles or employment lengths. For example, I know plenty of people who have been laid off, who haven't changed their LinkedIn to reflect that they are unemployed. I also know tons of people who now work at different places, who never updated their LinkedIn so it still looks like they are at the old company even though they left years ago.

LinkedIn is worth zero. The only thing that matters is what he put on the resume he submitted to your company. And that isn't your job to vet.
posted by pravit at 1:00 PM on February 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

My LinkedIn is more descriptive and less precise than my resume--I basically remove the history-lesson types of details you're describing here, though I would include those details on any resume I handed out. Unless this person has listed you as a reference, I wouldn't say anything.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at his actual resume, or just seen this on linkedin?
LinkedIn is kind of weird. If you stay in the same company but take on a new job, it can be kind of awkward to put in the linkedin system, and there are jobs where I only have my last position listed despite working through several levels over years of being there. I don't think most recruiters blink an eye at that.
OTOH, if his resume stated that, well, I would hope that it would come out in the reference checks.
Either way I would not worry too much about it reflecting on you.
posted by ch1x0r at 3:35 PM on February 16, 2015

I've seen former co-workers lie about their job titles. I have seen two separate co-workers of mine claim to be "deputy director of communications." In both cases, it is a lie. In one case, it's completely absurd because she was a scheduler/assistant. The thing is, I am rather certain that in both their cases, each of their bosses, who were top-level in the organization, are willing to go along with the "deputy director of communications" lie to help them. I think it's bullshit, but it's not my place to get involved.

In your case, this sounds far less egregious. If "operations" included "computers" in your example, then it's all sort of semantics anyway. He is just trying to show he had a low-level position dealing with computers and was elevated to have even more responsibility with computers. If you like him and think he would actually be good, then don't say anything. If he's an asshole, unpleasant to work with, lazy, causes problems, etc. then try to use this as an opening to express your other standing concerns.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:23 PM on February 16, 2015

Yeah, job titles really don't have the same level of precision.

For example: my current job, I was told I would be hired for "Being Awesome Coordinator". But when I received my job offer, it said "Being Awesome Specialist". My business cards say "Being Awesome Coordinator." My email sig, I have just noticed while thinking about this, says "Being Awesome Specialist."

God only knows how I will remember my title when I've moved on. I wouldn't sweat this.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on February 17, 2015

It's also worth noting that LinkedIn does something funny when calculating the duration of a role.

I've only been at my job for a couple of days shy of a month and, despite entering my start date accurately, LinkedIn is reporting I've been there 2 months.
posted by mr_silver at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Best strategy for quick car sell in Buffalo?   |   good or bad idea to pursue BS & MS in earth... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.