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Study Compares Honesty on LinkedIn Profiles and Resumes

A new Cornell University study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking reveals that undergraduates are more accurate in describing work experience on their LinkedIn profile than on their resume. However, they are more deceptive in describing their hobbies.

LinkedIn-LogoThe public nature of LinkedIn makes it easy to verify falsifications. Imagine connecting with your previous boss on the site, only for her to see a  job title that doesn't exist or responsibilities you didn't do. This is good news for employers wanting to check applicants' resumes and may be one reason that 48% of employers say they do so before making a hiring decision.

But according to Jamie Guillory, the study's lead author, students on LinkedIn "still found ways to make themselves look better" and took more liberties when describing hobbies, which are harder to verify. About 92% of students exaggerated or omitted information at least once on LinkedIn or their resumes, with students making these decisions an average of three times.

Discussion Starters and Assignment Ideas:

  • Are you more truthful on your LinkedIn profile than on your resume? In what ways?
  • Where you we cross the line between exaggerations and lies? What would you consider unethical? Give a few examples to explain your thinking.
  • Identify any potential exaggerations or omissions on either your LinkedIn profile or on your resume. What are the potential consequences if this information is discovered to be false? In retrospect, is it worth the risk?
  • Swap resumes with a partner. Choose a few items—work experience, activities, or interests—and interview each other. Ask specific, pointed questions to try to verify the information. Do you uncover any potential issues with how the information is described? What, if anything, will you change on your resume as a result of this process?