What should I do about my LinkedIn?
May 9, 2021 8:44 AM   Subscribe

This week I started a new — and much better — job at a new company. As I am meeting a lot of new people, including the CEO, Ops. Manager, etc., I have thought about reactivating my LinkedIn account. But there is a problem…

At the previous company I worked at (call it company X) I was officially a "Clerk". But when I applied to the new position at my now current company (call it company N) I said I was a "Supervisor".

Why did I do this? This is where it gets really confusing.

When I first started working as a “Clerk” at company X I was told by the facility manager (my boss, call him Mr. G) that he wanted to hire a “Supervisor” but that head office (his bosses, in another country) didn’t want to pay for one. The most head office would permit was a “Clerk”.

For the next 2 years there was nonstop confusion everywhere as to what exactly my role and responsibilities were. Mr. G. — and indeed head office eventually — expected me to take on managerial and supervisory responsibilities over a department staff of 12, but “officially”, I had no such authority. Whenever there were management meetings within the organization I was required to attend them, even though I was the only one that wasn’t officially a manager or supervisor. There would be division/state presidents, CFO, inventory managers, transportation managers, operations managers, then me, the “Clerk”.

Eventually I was getting really fed up with this. I checked the company’s internal job descriptions of supervisors and managers within my own department — and I was literally doing all of it. Except instead of making $100,000 I made $30,000 a year, the “Clerk” salary.

When I started applying to other jobs I was encouraged by other managers (not Mr. G, my manager, he didn’t know I was applying to other jobs) within company X to put on my resume that I was a “Supervisor”. They offered themselves as references and said they would support me as a “Supervisor” if any prospective employer asked.

Thus, when I said I was a “Supervisor”, I wasn’t lying about my responsibilities and experience, and there are managers at my previous employer that will back me up on this and themselves say that I was a “Supervisor”.

But officially I wasn’t — and I am concerned about my former head office bosses and Mr. G seeing me as a “Supervisor” on LinkedIn.

What do you advise?
posted by 8LeggedFriend to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you could put "Acting Supervisor"

or just put "Supervisor"; it is highly unlikely any of those old-company people will be in touch with your new company to complain. It's more likely that even if they do see your profile and think about it that they'll forget what your official title was, anyway, if you were in all the mgmt meetings.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:50 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]

That's ok. You can put yourself down as a supervisor. They're probably not going to see it, and if they do see it, they're not going to remember. And if they do remember, they're not going to do anything about it. Everyone uses LinkedIn to present the best version of themselves so this is a very common thing you'd be doing. It's also a very common situation to be in.
It wouldn't hurt to contact those other managers who you said would back you up and see if they'd write you a recommendation on LinkedIn.
posted by bleep at 8:51 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]

Get recommendations on LinkedIn from some of the managers who said they "would support me as a “Supervisor” if any prospective employer asked", and ask the ones you think are most likely to agree if they will act as referee for you in future if required.

Then go for it and don't worry. Unless you're actively lying about your role - which you're not - there is zero chance your old company will take any action or even care, especially if some of their employees have actively recommended you for the work you did as a supervisor.
posted by underclocked at 8:58 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Yep. Resumes are not historical records. They are marketing materials. As long as you’re honest about your experience, you’re fine.

Title mismatches happen somewhat frequently. I worked a job for nearly five years under a title my manager provided, but my actual employment record had an entirely different title. Not a single client or employee ever referred to me by my hiring title. This popped up as a discrepancy during a background check, but it was easily explained and resolved.
posted by mochapickle at 9:01 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]

One thing you can do is just take that old job off your history. You could take all your previous jobs off if you want, which I see some people I follow doing so that only their current job shows. It's social media, not your Permanent Record. You can do what you want.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:35 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]

Maybe you could come up with something that is not Supervisor or Clerk - like "Transaction Director" or "Business Manager" or something vaguely in the right area. The idea would be that you would be more describing your role rather than some kind of official title. But I generally agree with the other comments that you should do what you want and not worry about it.
posted by Mid at 9:41 AM on May 9

From outside your profession, I like "Acting Supervisor" because it's exactly true. You didn't have the formal title, but if you were to describe your job, you attended management meetings and supervised twelve people and you left because your title was not bumped up to match your responsibilities This is an extremely comprehensible, truthful, not uncommon account which reflects well on you and even if, by chance, your old employer were to look at your LinkedIn, well, it describes your exact duties.
posted by Frowner at 10:25 AM on May 9

That's ok. You can put yourself down as a supervisor. They're probably not going to see it, and if they do see it, they're not going to remember. And if they do remember, they're not going to do anything about it.

[I like this and would like to add]

... and if they do anything about it, you explain to them professionally the same way you did to us. That you did the work of a supervisor at the wage of a clerk, and you decided to move on, but not at the expense of denying yourself the opportunity to represent your skills and not the title you had to live with.

Good luck with the new job.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 10:48 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]

My vote is do not say you held a title you didn’t hold on LI. Too public. Remove the title and accurately describe your duties, emphasizing the supervisory roles; or leave it off altogether.

Someone who reports to me did something like this on LinkedIn (think that Dwight Schrute thing of saying Assistant Regional Manager vs Assistant TO the Regional Manager) and multiple people reached out to me to point this out (small industry.) I took no action but...he did not come across well.
posted by kapers at 12:23 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]

I agree with kapers. People LOVE to report on other people.
posted by dianeF at 12:54 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Title inflation is a fairly common thing on LinkedIn and people do notice and do talk about. I don't think that is quite what this is because you were actually doing the work, but the perception could be meaningful. However, how much this really matters or has potential negative repercussions is industry and possibly location specific.

Personally, I handled a similar situation (performing duties of "X" job but my title was "Y" job) by listing both -- in my case, it made the most sense to put the "performing" job first with the "title" role in parenthesis.
posted by sm1tten at 5:23 PM on May 9

Congrats on the new job! I like the suggestion about not putting your previous job. It seems like a safe option. If this were me I’d probably only put my current position (the new one) on LinkedIn. In fact, if I were in this situation, I’d probably not even rejoin LinkedIn. I know LI is more important for some fields but if this is causing stress maybe you could wait to decide if you want to rejoin LI.
posted by mundo at 6:42 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

Just remove your title for that job on LinkedIn (if the field is mandatory, just list your department) and accurately describe your duties. I'm in pretty much the exact same boat with a former employer.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 AM on May 10

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