LinkedIn Maintenance II: Do THIS RIGHT NOW (or else)

Three months ago I wrote LinkedIn Maintenance: Do This Right Now (or else), strongly encouraging you to back up your network (export connections in Linkedin) and download your profile as a PDF.  I got 49 comments on that post, and a bunch of bloggers shared it.  I didn’t mean to use a scare tactic, as I think those are generally lame, but the story about Susan Ireland’s account getting deleted (or, becoming inaccessible) by LinkedIn is a reality that most LinkedIn users won’t want to face.

Today I want to present Part II of LinkedIn Maintenance (or else) to you.  If you don’t do this when you read my blog post, don’t call me asking to help you – because I won’t be able to.  First, the story:

I got a desperate email and few voice mails, and then finally connected on the phone with a recruiter.  This is someone who has read me, known about me, heard from me, etc. for over a year.  She was practically in tears, and clearly distraught.  She had built her LinkedIn network to over 1,500 connections, and used it religiously in her work as a recruiter.

Can you imagine taking all the time and making all the effort to build a network that big, and using LinkedIn on a daily basis as she did her job?  LinkedIn is to her what a hammer is to a carpenter.  Critical.

She ended up leaving her employer.  And shortly after, probably within 24 hours, her LinkedIn account was… GONE.

Wait, it wasn’t totally gone.  This is scarier than “gone.”  From what I understand, here’s what happened:

Her boss must have done a “forgot password.”  Since her primary, and ONLY email address on her account, was the corporate email account he provided her, which he now had COMPLETE control over, he was able to login as her.

And he changed her LinkedIn password.

And he changed her vanity URL (from her name to his name).

And he changed the name (the one at the very top of your Profile).

It looked 100% like HIS account.  But there were two problems:

  1. All of the 1,500 connections were connected to this new, bogus, fraudulent account.  Sounds like a HUGE breach of privacy/security to me.  And embarrassing and disrespectful to the lady, who had built the relationships.  Not to mention the complete disrespect for each of her LinkedIn connections.
  2. All of the recommendations had HER name, not his.  He couldn’t change that.  If I happened upon the Profile I would have guessed it was a bug in LinkedIn.

But it wasn’t a bug.  It was a fraudulent situation.  I said, “YOU DIDN’T READ MY BOOK!”  Because in my book I say, MAKE SURE the primary email address is one that you will have 100% complete control over, like a gmail account, or Yahoo, or AOL, or Hotmail, or something like that.  The second address in your account can be your employer’s address, but it should NEVER be your primary address.  NEVER!

That’s it… no more story, no more writing about this.  GO NOW to your LinkedIn Profile, click on Account & Settings, then on the right click on Email Addresses, and the rest should be obvious.

If you want more info on using LinkedIn, you can buy my book or follow the I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? blog.  I blog regularly over there.

Please, go do this NOW.

15 thoughts on “LinkedIn Maintenance II: Do THIS RIGHT NOW (or else)”

  1. Wow, that’s an incredibly slimy boss. What a horribly traumatic mistake – that must just have been one of the things that completely slipped her mind. I know I wouldn’t even think of something like that, especially in all the chaos of leaving a job.

    If I were her, I’d create a new LinkedIn account, and then write a message explaining the situation to all her former contacts (if her former account allowed others to “see contacts”). I’d go first to the ones who have written a recommendation and ask them to switch their recommendations to her new account (and away from the slimy boss).

    Unfortunately, even if she can get those contacts back, it’s going to take a LOT of work! I hope everyone else listens to this post and makes sure to follow your advice.

  2. Another thing I’ve been told…. some recruiters especially at large companies but also at firms will refuse to look at LinkedIn profiles that include a picture that is visible to them, because a picture inherently includes too much personal information that is not relevant and illegal to consider in evaluating candidates – like age, gender, and race. Do you know if this is true or if this is an urban legend? I have made my photo visible only to my contacts, not to everyone, for that reason. Do you recommend something similar?

  3. So Jason, are you saying change the primary email address to something only you have access too? It wasn’t real clear in the post above, and since I don’t want to assume, please clarify.

    Great idea though. I went in and completed all three tasks. Thanks.

    You know, looking at the profile export to PDF, if maintained right, someone could almost use that as their resume which they send around. Very interesting.

  4. Wow. Extraordinary. Not surprised the consultant in question was upset. I would however be surprised if that network did her boss more good than harm. As a candidate or client, I’d be more than a little concerned to see the name change… In the UK there was action taken earlier this year by a large recruiter against a departing member of staff – the link below has commentary and links to the majority of the press coverage. I suspect linkedin network ownership could be keeping IP lawyers busy for quite some time to come.

  5. @Katie – the story ends well – she got her account back. Took longer than it should have though.

    @Rich – good question and common topic – I’ll address that on my LinkedIn blog.

    @Thom – the primary addy SHOULD NOT be your employers address (ie: It should be an address that you will have complete access to AFTER you transition from your current employer, and one you can have forever (so, not even your school address, since many of those go away once you graduate). My primary is my gmail addy, and then I have my work addy, so you can invite me using either. But if I sell JibberJobber, I’ll still have complete access to my LinkedIn account. This is mostly necessary if you forget your password, unless, like in this story, you have an unscrupulous boss 🙁

  6. Great points, Jason. Quick sidebar: I am amazed at times how often candidates will correspond with me (a recruiter) through their work email account. Not smart!

    My LinkedIn (and facebook, etc) account knows *all* my possible email addresses for not only this reason (redundancy of access) but also so people who wish to connect with me will have a more-likely chance of doing so.

    It is hard to read this post, in part, because we identify ourselves very often by who we work for, and even though this recruiter built an awesome network, she forgot that, no matter what the legal paperwork says, every person is their own Boss and should always remember to protect their own brand-identity!

  7. Jason, what a story. I can’t tell you how many people write me with horror stories about bad bosses who refuse to write good references or try to undermine a previous employee’s new job search. But this takes the cake! I’ll be sure to reference this post on my blog.

    BTW, since I took your advice about backiing up my account, I haven’t had any problems with LinkedIn. It’s like carrying an umbrella so it won’t rain.

  8. Wow Jason, this is so scary! It’s one of the reasons I encourage folks to partner their LinkedIn account with a Plaxo account, so you can back up all of your contacts. You’re only as good as your relationships, but if you can’t contact the people you know, what good are those relationships?

  9. Yes I agree on the personal branding front, unwise to use employer’s email addy for LinkedIn. Recently I have had conversation with friends with regard to drawing lines in using Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn, who to connect/add as friend on both sites, it’s not always evident. I have ended up using a total separate addy for now for FB.

  10. @Rich – it’s not exactly an urban legend, but LinkedIn provides an option for recruiters that hides pictures from them.

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