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LinkedIn & Those Fake Profiles – the Dangers of Bad Data

When I first joined LinkedIn, I was running recruitment for a competing recruitment product company (and, btw, if you’re on LinkedIn, and you’re not in recruitment or sales/ marketing? You’re the product). It was a good platform, different approach from my employers, and I wanted to check it out.

I was delighted back then. Seemed to make sense, lots of data, people kept adding to their profile, so the data got richer and richer. Recruiters worked out ways to look for job-search signals: a change of photo, sudden flurry of recommendations, job descriptions and titles getting more filled out (and, yes, if we find you interesting, we track those moves you make – there are even tools that automate that for us). It was good.

Moving along, LinkedIn has grown – rapidly. Deep, broad data-set. Global in nature. A mobile offering (which needs help, I’ll admit, but it’s not as bad as the people who like to kick it around claim). On and on.

With that growth, however, has come a growing number of clearly fake profiles. Set up by hackers and scammers, they have become relentless of late in their connection requests, to the point where I get scammer connection requests daily.

Check out Nabya. She just sent me the connection request that triggered this little note. She seems legit, right? Not a stock model photo. College listed, has some endorsements, connected to three of my connections, etc. Since I’m hyper sensitive lately, I do Google reverse image searches on every connection request I get from someone I don’t know. Guess what? Two pages of results – multiple LinkedIn, Google+, etc sites that use the same picture. All with different names.

This points to fake data in the LinkedIn data set – and, based on the volume of connection requests, points to a rapid rise in this fake data.

This issue here, for me, is that LinkedIn relies a lot on their numbers to sell products. One of their strongest claims when pitching to recruiting leaders is: “We have 130 million users in the US. The US working population is 200 million.” They leave it there, but the implication is that over half the working population is on LinkedIn.

But… is it? There isn’t hard data on this yet (it’s being worked on – and I know a few people who are on projects to work this out), but conservative estimates are putting the number at 15% minimum. The highest I’ve heard are 40% fake.

That’s nuts. Now, I’m not saying this % is the same region-by-region, since at least half the fake requests I get are from Asia Pac (so, the recent LinkedIn claim that they have 100m members in Asia Pac is hugely suspect). But, even if it’s just 15% of the US number, that’s significant.

The next piece is about engagement – or, to be frank, disengagement. It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn profile. The real issue is one of engagement. If you’re reading this, decent chance you work in recruiting, sales, or marketing. Why? Because engineers, auditors, nurses, CEOs, etc don’t really engage much with LinkedIn on a regular basis. In fact, according to the PEW Research Center, 46% of LinkedIn users log in less than once a week, whereas 70% of Facebook users log in daily. That’s huge. If you happen to watch Silicon Valley (if you don’t, it’s so worth watching), you’ll be familiar with the critical importance of daily average users – basically, if that’s a low number, than you’re doing something wrong…

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And, not to beat on this too much, but that percent of disengagement is highest with engineers – I talk to a lot of them, and by and large they ignore LinkedIn & LinkedIn inmails, unless they’re actively looking for a job. If they’re passive, it ain’t happening. They talk ruefully about “LinkedIn recruiter spam”, and how they just have LinkedIn emails directing to their email spam folder. A lot of them are so sick of the service, they’re deleting their accounts.

The danger, to me – and this is selfish – lies in how hugely reliant the recruitment industry has become on LinkedIn, and it’s pricey Recruiter seats. The company has done an exceptional job selling and marketing itself to executives, That “we have X number of users” line I mentioned earlier? It’s catnip to CEO’s – they essentially insist their recruiting department fork over large percents (like, say, 50%) of their tight budgets to LinkedIn. The down-the-line impact is that there’s a lot less budget for tools that actually work for finding engineers, etc (Stack Overflow, Entelo, HiringSolved, etc etc). And, a lot of recruiters think “hey, if I send out 50 inmails a day, and look at 200 profiles, then I’m doing my job”, so it becomes a crutch – one that gets in the way of them actually doing their real job: getting top talent hired as fast as possible.

Beyond that, there’s the very real security risk. Hackers are generally very smart – and they know how to use social engineering. LinkedIn is ideal for that. Create a real enough presence on the site, with multiple “real” profiles, and target high-value individuals with connection requests. Then, start asking for expertise, and create a connection. And then take it deeper and deeper, until you have enough data from your target (email address, personal info, etc etc) that you can gain access to their employer and its systems. Dell’s cyber security team recently uncovered a hacking attempt by an Iranian group using false profiles, as one example. This isn’t, of course, limited to LinkedIn (all social networks face this challenge), but it’s increasingly becoming their social network of choice for activity like this.

End of the day, and this rant, it comes down to this: LinkedIn needs to clean their data up, and it’s not even that challenging. I mean – there are over 200 fake profiles on LinkedIn that use the word “douche” as part of their name. They could pay a couple of interns to sit there for a week, get creative, and get to cleaning, and it would be a big step forward. I suspect the issue is – and I’ll admit I’m cynical – that they know this would damage their numbers, and that hurts sales in the short term. Long term, this is now Microsofts’s issue. Wonder if anyone asked Bill Gates to see how many profiles he has on the site…

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LinkedIn Recruiter Spam…

Uggh. Alright, so first: it’s been 6 months since I posted. That’s insane. The new job at PwC is amazing, love my boss/ team/ and the work we’re doing. I’m very much in my happy place. All that said, time is whipping by. I’ll make an effort to be more diligent here. Maybe. Sorta.

Or, well, to be a bit more honest: I have no idea. I’ll try to write more. I love it, have a hacker-level ability at it, and gods know I need the catharsis… But. Yeah. I am loathe to promise.

All that said, it’s a typical busy day, err night by now, and I should be pushing a deliverable. I just need to vent for a second, about abuse. Abuse of my time, of LinkedIn, of recruiting in general. One particular thing. Spam.

I have a connection, whom I’ve never met, and I’m not sure how we connected. That’s fine – she seems legit, works in recruiting, etc. No big deal. But for this: her only communications to me, ever, are spam. I just got one, and I’m going to post it as an example of why, when I ask for feedback on “what’s your biggest complaint about LinkedIn”, I get responses like this one from an engineer friend of mine:

“Too many lazy recruiters sending job offers that aren’t applicable to some ones skill set or even better asking for free referrals #hacks#drainonhumanity

That’s a huge issue for our industry. We’ve talked and talked about it at a leadership level, but then we see data showing individuals who have sent thousands of inmails in a single month.

Thousands. Plural. Figure an average of 22 wrk days per month. 4400 inmails. 200 a day. Being generous, let’s say 4 hours a day just sourcing on LinkedIn. So… 50 an hour. Basically one a minute. That, or just pure bulk messaging (and we all know that’s what it really is).

How can that be effective? Nobody responds to those, unless they’re desperate. And, if they’re responding, they probably applied already anyways. It’s just busywork, by a lazy recruiter, and it’s killing us.

Please. Stop. It. Just leave the industry if that’s your approach, or take the time to learn a new approach. All you’re doing is making people hate  the rest of us… and, sometimes, you get blogged about for it.

In any event, here’s the inmail I got (redacted to, well, not be a jerk on my end). Bear in mind, this is from the president of a staffing firm who – supposedly – knows who I am, and what I do for a living. Knows that asking me for leads like this, and in this fashion, is futile – heck, under LinkedIn’s new rules tightly limiting the number of inmails recruiters can send per month, is actually a waste of money and time. Should also know I’m a mean son-of-a-gun at times. This is like poking a bear with a short stick…

Hi Martin,

We are hiring!!! (sorry, this is Martin – editorial note – what?I have actually blogged about how much I hate unnecessary exclamation points – and, kid, this is a case in point. Imagine someone coming up to you at a party and shouting at you like this “We’re hiring!! WEEE!!!” You’d want to knock them on the head with the punch bowl in self-defense. And everyone would applaud you). Even though it’s cold outside, the digital job market is HOT! We are looking for top talent to fill the following positions:

For full job details please visit our career page at

www.spammityspam!

(best if viewed in IE) (Wait. Whaaa?  So: “best viewed in a browser that nobody in digital or marketing will ever use!”… and these roles are all about digital and marketing… anyways: go on…)

Account Management /Strategy
• Group Planning Director-Performance Marketing- NYC
• Account Director – Digital Performance Marketing-CHI
• VP, Group Account Director- Dallas/Ft. Worth
• Digital Strategist-LA
• EVP, Group Account Director- Boston
Analytics
• Analytics Director- Boston
• Web Analyst- Chicago
• Supervisor, Insights and Data Science- Chicago
• Supervisor, Insights and Data Science-Social- NYC

Display Media
• Digital Media Planner-CHI
• Digital Media Planner- NYC
• Digital Media Planner- SF
• Associate Media Director- RTB-NYC (Really Trying BS? I don’t understand, but yes, that is what this email amounts to)

Email Marketing
• Deployment Consultant-Miami

Search/SEO
• Associate Director, Search- Chicago
• Media Manager-Paid Search- Chicago
• Sr. Media Manager-Paid Search- Search- NY
• Sr. SEO Strategist- NY
• Director of Paid Media- Dallas, PA (Was that where they shot JR? I always thought he was a Texan…)

Social Media
• Social Media Manager/Recruiter- Ft. Lauderdale (NO. You are one, or the other. NO.)

Sales
• VP, Business Development- Multi-channel -NYC
• Media Sales- Digital OOH/TV/Video-NYC (What? OOOH TV! Is that somebody who’s still excited about the talkies? I’m confused. Also, clearly, if I don’t even know what the title means…)

Tell your friends!!! (Oh, trust me: I am)
We are offering a referral bonus if your one of your referral is hired by our client. You will receive an iPad or $500 gift card for your first hired referral and $1000 cash for any additional referrals that are hired. Candidates must exceed their 90 day probationary period before a referral bonus is issued. Referrals are valid for 6 months.

Thanks for your help! (Oh, no – thank you. I needed a distraction…)

trackback-spam

Public Appearances: Panels, Speakers, and Tigers… Oh My…

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So…. Dusting off the blog (yet again). I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been putting content seemingly everywhere but here (I was even trending on Twitter last week… sorta). Regardless, if you follow Good to Know, you may have wondered if I’d kicked the can into the great playground in the sky. Particularly if we aren’t connected on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or some other random social site (I probably still have a Geocities account somewhere – if only I knew Japanese…) I do tend to yap a lot on those sites.

All that said: hi there. I’ve been busy with some travel lately, and some of that has involved me confronting my greatest fear: public speaking.*

Since I’m a shameless, if slightly lackadaisical, self-promoter (you should be, too – it’s your career, you need to manage it), I thought I’d catch you up on where I’ve been – in case you own a Tardis, and want to go check it out.

These are a few highlights – I’ve done some breakouts, coffee seminars, etc in between. These stood out as, well, the most fun:

  • First up, I spent last week at the annual ERE Conference in San Diego. I was lucky enough to be invited onto the keynote panel, where we chatted about Strengthening Your Recruiting Department’s Internal Reputation and Influence. I was also asked to lead a team of recruiting leaders in a discussion around using mobile in recruitment – a topic I find fascinating.
  • Late last year, I was asked to present at HireClix’s Recruitment Media Day, which is a neat event where recruiting leaders get to meet with various vendors of recruiting tools (Indeed, LinkedIn, etc etc) all under one roof, and do some one-stop shopping. Lots of fun talking about what’s coming over the horizon in recruitment. Hat top to Scott Ryan and Neil Costa for inviting me.

Now, and, probably more importantly: where I’m going to be/ what I’m up to:

  • iRecruit Expo, Amsterdam, June 4th & 5th: That’s right – I’m crossing the Pond. And, apparently the Channel. Also a few canals. I’m leading a panel with my pal, Gordon Lokenberg. We’re going to dig into using mobile in recruitment (because, that really is the big deal everyone thinks it is). I’m also running an unconference session there, thanks to Bill Boorman.
    • If you’re interested in attending, please let me know. I’d love to catch up with you in person.
  • Day-to-day-wise, I’m still with Mobiquity. With our expansion into Europe, I’ve been spending about two weeks per month there at our office, helping with an integration, as well as looking at locations for additional offices/ hiring/ etc. It’s been fascinating. I’ve also started wearing skinnier pants, and funkier shoes. This gets me made fun of in our Boston office – and I like it…
  • I’m looking at a writing project, either an ebook, or an actualbook. I’d like to look at where the industry is going, as I think we’re in another evolutionary phase in the talent field. If you know a good publisher… feel free to warn them.

More to come – a few deals I haven’t fully committed to yet, for the fall. Once I have them set, I’ll update.

Best,

Martin

*Fine: I find shaved bears more terrifying than public speaking. You would, too: I mean, just look at this thing.

Seeking Extraordinary Talent Acquisition Professionals: Boston, Redwood City, and Beyond

In putting together a job description/ ad for the talent acquisition professionals I’m looking for, I wound up writing a manifesto. Not sure it’s what I’ll run with, but I like it. Kind of a lot. thought it deserved life somewhere, and since I have this handy-little platform available to me, I’m going to take advantage. Please, feel free to pass along, dissect, disavow, dissemble, diagnose… just, don’t duplicate (unless you’re willing to pin the blame on me). Never was a fan of copycats.

In any event: I’m building a team. It’s going to be fun. There’s loads of potential, a great platform, some interesting challenges, and support from the executive team. Don’t expect me to breathe down your neck, but do expect me to help you when you need it. I know I need people in Waltham (near Boston), Redwood City (that’d be near San Francisco), and I’ll probably need somebody in Gainesville.

Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant                                                                                                                               mob_logo

Ever want to be part of building something extraordinary? Now’s your chance.

Why Join Mobiquity? Why Now? Because it’s Your Best Move, and Now is When it’s Available

There’s a reason why thought-leaders like Andrew Hiser, the pioneer of human-centered software design, have joined Mobiquity. It’s because they see the future becoming the present: Mobile changing everything.

It’s the 5th Wave. The world in your pocket. Applications that tell doctors how well your medication is working as it passes through your body, to ones that alert a restaurant that you’ve pulled into their lot and are ready for you to walk their take-out to them.

Apps that help drug addicts recover, and apps that will help you retire wealthy.

We’re not talking about flinging birds at pigs anymore (fun as that is). We’re talking about changing how people behave, how business gets done, and how we will shape the future.

Mobiquity is at the leading edge of the wave. Positioned to define the future of mobile, a name that will become as familiar to the world as the names of the biggest successes out of the Internet wave.

Talent Acquisition Makes it All Possible

Without solid talent, organizations stagnate, and fade away. Without the greatest talent, organizations can’t surge, can’t become the key leaders in their space. Our job is to make sure that happens. We seek real recruiters. Budding talent acquisition thought leaders. We get the big It: that it’s always about the people. That A players hire A players, while B’s hire C’s, C’s hire D’s, and well… then you get to F. Failure.

Our role is to find the A’s, engage with them, excite them, and help them through the hiring process. We’re matchmakers to the Nth degree, but we’re also business people. We use marketing, social media, talent pools, innovative sourcing & research, and a degree of sales skills to attract the very best. We never cut corners, we don’t lie, harass, or avoid hard truths: we are the A-players of recruitment.

We Are Looking for You

Join us, if you see recruitment as much of a calling as a profession – if it’s your passion, as much as your paycheck. We’re going to blow some things up. You should find that exciting. You should find process a tool best used lightly. You should be funny. Funny matters, in this role and in life.

If you’re sitting there, thinking “holy crap – I’ve been looking for this!”, you have a next step in your journey to greatness: Find Martin Burns, Director of Talent Acquisition at Mobiqutiy. Work for him, if you want a boss who wants you to teach him some new skills, who wants you to try new approaches and make some mistakes along the way, and who wants to hire people who he can help grow into leaders in our game-changing, rapidly evolving  profession.

Make the Best Move – Join Mobiquity

You can find Martin all sorts of places: mburns@mobiquity.com. 617.851.7277. twitter. linkedin. facebook. etc, etc…. You’re in the game. You get it.

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How Social Media Can (Quickly) Sink Your Candidacy – True Story

When you send in resume, make sure it matches your LinkedIn profile (this is dead-easy to do, and there’s no excuse not to). Also, when the recruiter/ HR/ whoever drops your e-mail into Facebook search (look, Virginia, no there isn’t a Santa Claus, and yes, you’re gonna get Facebook checked), make sure what comes up is professional, and is actually you. Not some fake profile you created to play Mafia Wars when your boss wasn’t looking. I mean, is your name really Mad Eyes Marilyn Mondroe?  That’s actually kindda basass, if it is. But when your resume says “Jane Smith”, we have to assume the worst. That, or you’re a secret-assassin.

If nothing else, make the list of Zynga Games you “like” non-public, and don’t use the same e-mail address you’re using on your resume.

Here’s the interpretation: If you’ve gone to the trouble of creating a fake profile for gaming, and like everything from Farmville to Palookaville, it’s a safe bet you’re spending your working hours planting watermellons, and offing Mafia dons. That, and you’d rather live in that rather sad, shallow world, and can’t even spend the time to hit the “Import Your Resume” button on LinkedIn. You’re considered damaged goods, DOA as a candidate.

Just a thought.

I Promise You, I Thought This Was Satire

And Another Thing… Words You Should Never Use On a Resume, Cover Letter….

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I do like LinkedIn – it’s a good thing. Part of what I like about the company is the data they pull out, and serve up. That may be because I’m a people junky (“stick them in my vein!!” Hmm. That may get edited out later). One of their new ones is an analysis of the most overused phrases on people’s LinkedIn profiles – basically, words that make you look like… well, like everyone else. The full post is here

Apparently, the majority of the people on LinkedIn are/ have:

  1. Extensive experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  4. Results-oriented
  5. Dynamic
  6. Proven track record
  7. Team player
  8. Fast-paced
  9. Problem solver
  10. Entrepreneurial

Hooray! Everyone’s amazing!!

The thing is… really? Because I’ve worked with a lot of people, and, well…. never mind. Just trust me: find some diferent ways to describe yourself. Pronto. Use words that relate to what you actually do, for the love of Pete. 

Oh: and stop using the word “vast”. And trousers. Slacks, as well.  But, mostly “vast”. You don’t have “vast knowledge”. Trust me.  Also: “people person”. Why is everyone a “people person”?  How in the world is that a compelling reason to hire you?

Anyways.

No, seriously, I’m done. Just can’t find a way to roll off naturally. Fin. Talk to you later? Hasta la pasta, baby?

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