The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 31, 2013

Watercooler: Unlinking from unwanted connections

By Karla L. Miller
Special to The Washington Post

— Q: How should I handle a friend from college who, on his LinkedIn profile, has added my name to projects I didn't participate in and put his name on projects that he didn't participate in but copied from my LinkedIn profile? These were consulting projects, with ties to outside companies, that we completed in college. I have requested he change this misinformation on his profile, and he has refused. We are not in the same workplace, but we are in the same field. At one time he was trying to get a job at the same company as I was.

A: Unlike the co-worker in my recent "Resume rip-off" column, this "friend" is doing more than copying a job description — he is claiming you both did work you didn't do, a violation that employers tend to take seriously. Give him one last warning, and then sever your LinkedIn connection with him. Even if you can't make him take your name off his work, you'll want to be as far away as possible when his lack of integrity catches up with him.

If you wanted to hasten that process, you could report his profile for false content. According to Crystal Braswell of LinkedIn's communications team, if you believe another user's profile contains inaccurate or illegal information, or uses someone else's copyrighted material, you can submit a False Profile Information form or a Notice of Content and Intellectual Property Violations form to LinkedIn's content reviewers. Just be aware that he will likely be offered a chance to defend himself, and he will probably be told who reported him, if he can't figure it out himself.

Also, unless those college projects won you a Nobel, drop them from your resume. I doubt they're still helpful at this point.

Q: I recruit interns for a company. We can hire only a few, so many good candidates are unsuccessful. Lately, rejected applicants have been adding me on LinkedIn. Is connecting with them a good idea? Most I know only by name, but they seemed like suitable candidates, and it seems rude to snub them.

A: LinkedIn recommends you accept connection requests only from people you know personally and trust professionally. As a recruiter, you'd probably be wise to keep that policy; users may assume you only connect with people you endorse. (Even in a world where "Words With Friends" means "Words With Avatars of People You've Never Actually Met.")

If you want to throw these poor castaways a rope, point them to relevant LinkedIn discussion groups where they can gain knowledge and build a reputation, as well as to offline networking resources that yield more solid results — and that take more effort — than clicking a button.

Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers. Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG's Washington National Tax office. You can find her on Twitter, @KarlaAtWork