former employee is using my title and job on LinkedIn

A reader writes:

I recently discovered that a former direct report took credit for my title/job during the brief 9-month period she reported to me temporarily while my assistant was on maternity leave. What’s mystifying is that she did it on LinkedIn. While we’re not connected, we share a good number of connections because we have the same colleagues!

By doing so, it appears she was able to secure a senior position, thereby skipping having to serve in a non-senior role at all.

Understandably, I’m livid at someone taking credit for my job — especially since she was completely incompetent and showed no dedication or effort to perform well while reporting to me and spent 99% of her time looking for a job.

Should I contact the new employer and inform them of her lie? Most advice I’ve seen says to stay out of it — but, since she reported to me, I’m fully aware of her propensity for unethical behavior (“little white lies” being the norm) and if I can do something to put a stop to it, I’d be happier for it.

Of course, I understand that even if I report this factual misrepresentation, the new employer could opt to do nothing, but for some reason I think I have to do it! Help — what should I do?

There’s a strong argument for doing nothing. This presumably doesn’t impact you, and besides, if she’s as incompetent as you think she is, she’s probably not going to last very long in her new position anyway.

I suppose you could make an argument that the new employer deserves to know … but this employer apparently didn’t bother to check references or even verify her employment history, so that’s a problem of their own making.

I’m fully aware of the powerful pull of wanting to mete out justice or at least set people straight — I struggle with it all the time, believe me. But I don’t think your role is to be the justice-dispenser here, and you’re probably going to be happier if you just push her out of your mind. She doesn’t work for you anymore, and this is only going to bother you if you decide it’s going to bother you.

But if you feel you must do something, one option short of contacting her new employer is to contact her and point out the “error.” You’re probably going to come across as a busybody if you do this, but you could say something like: “I noticed that you used the title Taco Manager on your LinkedIn profile. Since I’m actually our only Taco Manager and you were the Taco Assistant, would you correct it to ward off any confusion? You’ll probably want to do that anyway so that it doesn’t cause problems for you with employment verifications and so forth.”  (See, it still sounds like a busybody.)

What do others think? Anyone want to argue for contacting the employer?

P.S. If this situation sounds familiar, we had a letter about a similar issue a year ago, only in that situation the perpetrator was still working with the person.

P.P.S. What’s up with letting someone you describe as “totally incompetent” work for you for nine months? That might be the bigger issue to focus on.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Piper*

    I have a similar LinkedIn scenario. I was laid off from a position and several months later they promoted someone internally into the same title (different responsibilities- I was company-side, she was promoted to client-side, but they used the same title- my position has never actually been replaced). She ended up walking out because, well, the CEO was/is insane, but my issue is that she has her entire stint at that company listed as my old job title, which shows at least a 5 month overlap in time from when I was actually in that position.

    This bothers me because potential employers could think I’m lying about what happened and/or about my job title. And I don’t trust my old employer (who is a liar, cheater, thief and generally the most unethical person I know) to tell the truth about the situation. Fortunately, I have everything in writing and kept a record in case I ever need to prove anything, but a reference checker or potential employer snooping around on LinkedIn would never get to that information.

    I haven’t contacted her about it because I don’t want to be whiny, but it still bugs the crap out of me.

    1. Dave*

      To you, and to the OP, this is mostly a case of you two caring way more about your linkedIn than most employers or even recruiters will. You are drawing connections from these people to your own career path that are irrelevant. LinkedIn is just a social networking tool, not a real resume (yet). The information specifically on that site is take-at-your-own-risk.

      I hope that helps put things in perspective– most employers/recruiters considering you for a specific position won’t look at your linkedIn more than 30 seconds, let alone click on coworkers of yours.

      1. Piper*

        Perhaps, but I’ve also gotten two jobs because of LinkedIn and I am currently looking for a job and I get contacted on a regular basis by recruiters via LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn more in my job search (with higher rates of success) than any other method.

        Particularly in my field, where social media is highly relevant, my LinkedIn account has to be top notch and recruiters and businesses take notice. And they’re probably looking at my other social accounts that I have publicly available (I know they are clicking through links to my websites through LinkedIn thanks to analytics information).

        1. David Gaspin*

          Piper – I feel your pain, but I wouldn’t worry about it. If someone (a recruiter or potential employer) comes across your Linkedin profile, they’re not going to cross-reference it with other profiles to check for discrepancies. They’ll reach out to you. In my searches, if I come across 2 people who held the same title at the same company, it’s not a problem. After all – who’s going to know that there weren’t two people with your title at that company at the same time? Chances are, nobody that matters.

          1. Piper*

            I think you’re probably right and I’m just being paranoid. But I did mention farther down that the title I had is typically one that a company only has one of at a time, so it would seem weird to find an overlap. But I am probably over -thinking this because I’m so close to the situation.

      2. Anon.*

        Facebook is social networking… Linkedin is professional networking.

        And for those that just list themselves and do nothing with it – you are not utilizing it. Networking is work! It doesn’t just happen.

        As for it not being a ‘real resume’.. ??? It is a marketing tool as is a resume. If you want to hire someone, you should be verifying information whatever its presentation. Both are ‘real’, both are valid tools.

        1. Anonymous*

          I think the point about it being a “real resume” is that companies do not verify what is on your linked in. They verify based on what you supply in your official application materials whether that is an actual resume or just an application.

        2. Piper*

          In business, LinkedIn gets grouped into the “social networking” category – as in “can you manage my business’ presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.?” Most brands and businesses aren’t taking full advantage of the social aspects of LinkedIn. Also, logistically things like linking accounts to post Twitter are also things someone managing these accounts needs to think about – you don’t want to link your LinkedIn account to post to Facebook and your Facebook account to post to Twitter because now you’ve got two duplicate posts back-to-back on Twitter. And you also don’t want your entire Twitter feed spewing onto LinkedIn, especially if you’re very active on Twitter (there’s a hashtag for posting from Twitter to LinkedIn).

          These are just a few of the things that demonstrate social media competence with LinkedIn. It is a social professional network.

      3. Anonymous*

        I agree that the OP needs to relax a little bit, but I think you’re underestimating LinkeIn. Job seekers, recruiters, and hiring managers use it regularly. It’s not facebook.

        1. Piper*

          Agreed. It is a really valuable tool and it’s continuing to grow, and it’s especially prominent in certain fields.

      4. jn*


        But even if it does become REAL the prospective employer is still responsible for checking what the candidate claims is their experience.

  2. Piper*

    Off topic, but I really want to discuss this…I came across this quote in an article today and it gave me the rages:

    “Despite the high unemployment rate in most countries, companies tell us over and over that there is a paradoxical mismatch between demand and supply of skills. And great candidates are not looking for work.”

    Seriously? Really? Truly? This is so insulting. Why in the heck would great candidates not be looking for work? What if they have been unable to get out of a job due to geographic issues or they were waiting out the recession to being looking for a job? As someone who is looking for work because I’m relocating to a new city and my current city has absolutely no jobs for what I do, I find this quote so insulting.

    AAM, I think you need forums here so we can discuss things and not hijack posts. Of course, I realize forums come with the pain of monitoring, etc., but still, forums would be awesome!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In general, I’m not a huge fan of thread hijacks (though I know lots of other sites do them regularly, like Corporette), in part because it means that anyone who subscribes to the comments by email ends up getting emailed comments on topics they didn’t sign up for. Forums could solve that, but realistically I’ll probably never do forums because I’m constitutionally unable to not correct things that appear on my site that I consider wrong-headed, and so that would mean a lot more work for me :)

          1. Piper*

            Ooh, I like that idea! I completely understand not liking thread hijacking and the idea of moderating forums/losing content control!

            1. Natalie*

              Forums would also be a whole new set-up, tech-wise. I know there are a lot of plug-and-play forum systems, but they presumably require some set up and maintenance. And I don’t know if they are free.

              1. Piper*

                Yeah, they can be a PITA to deal with and I can see why AAM doesn’t want to. They are definitely more technical and require moderation as well.

      1. Josh S*

        Also, other comment systems (like DISQUS) allow you to get email notifications only to comments you’ve made or specific comments that you follow. Thus, thread hijacks wouldn’t hijack things so much, because people wouldn’t be subjected to email notifications on issues they don’t care much about.

        (Yes, I’m going to keep ‘pestering’ you on this. :p )

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I thought of you yesterday when I saw Disqus go down for a while on another blog and all their comments (and the ability to comment) temporarily disappear! And then I felt smug and satisfied in my refusal to change :)

          1. Esra*

            Disqus can be a pretty hot mess, but I agree with Josh that it would be nice to be able to subscribe just to the comment threads you post on.

          2. Josh S*

            “Temporarily” is a good key word there. Anybody’s server can get overwhelmed and melt. :/

            I still think you should upgrade the comment system. If not to Disqus, then to something else. (Disqus still gets my vote though…)

    2. Lori*

      The article clearly meant that the careers with the highest demand do not have enough people going to school to train for them. By definition, if your current city does not have any jobs for what you do, then that career is in low demand. So what exactly are you complaining about? You trained for a career that has very few job opportunities, but you should have figured that when you began training. I remember my PR/advertising professor laughing at students who thought they could stay in their small town and still get a job… same concept. Meanwhile there are jobs like (medical-related? software engineers?) that are in high demand and not enough people to do them. Methinks you need to go back and reread the article.

  3. Interviewer*

    Don’t call her employer. It’s their own fault if they’re not doing their homework before hiring a candidate. You’ll look extremely childish making that call now. If she’s truly as bad as you describe, her new employer will figure it out soon enough.

    I’d send her an email and let her know that you wish her well in her new position. Oh, and she might want to fix her former title on LinkedIn to XYZ, so no one is confused if they are doing a search. Short and simple and to the point, no emotion or drama or blame. It may not have occurred to her that you would see it, and perhaps that will generate a quick edit.

    1. Ali Mc*

      I just read you because a) I’m a job seeker and b) I love this side of your blog (the reader questions) aka – I have no experience in the area but I’d say – SAY NOTHING.

      I work with a girl who is constantly going to management about everything. All that does is make her appear like she can’t handle things on her own.

      I am firmly against meddling. Everyone gets theirs in the end. If you really want to let off your steam do the old fashion “punch a pillow” I think the real issue here is jealousy, which is purely natural. I’m not sure any one of us could say we’d feel any different but speaking to the company might ruin further connections for you and speaking to her will cause an argument.

      I recommend running. I run off my steam all the time, otherwise I’d be fired for wanting to murder everyone I work with ;)

      Good luck!

      PS: I was wondering if you had your LinkedIn title as the same. If you don’t I’d suggest making a profile and having the EXACT same work accredited to you, that way if you both come up in a search, you’ll be able to back it up and she wont :)

  4. Alison*

    I have a somewhat similar situation. For lack of space, my desk is in another department’s office. While I’ve been here I’ve seen the receptionist act more unprofessionally than I even knew was possible.
    She is applying for an internal position she would be truly detrimental in, but has somehow convinced the hiring manager (who has only been here a few months and never witnesses her behavior) that she’d be a great fit for the position and it actually looks as if she might be able to fake her way into it (lying about her knowledge, managing not to spit profanities long enough to fool him, that sort of thing).
    I am about to leave for another job, and I wanted so badly to alert the hiring manager to save him from this mistake, but I realized I really have nothing to gain in doing so, and if he does his due diligence he could avoid the whole situation on his own.

  5. Lauren*

    To pad my resume a bit, I chose to list my initial job as Jr. because that is what I was as I did not have my own accounts. After 2 years, I did get my own accounts so I when I was eventually searching for work, I decided to separate my job based on Jr (assisting on accounts) and Sr. (leading accounts). I basically did the exact same job the whole 4 years, but the only diff was that I now the “owner” of the accounts. I never got a new title, but when interviewing, I mention the difference and use my review date as the transition because that is when I was told by my boss that I “owned” certain accoutns and no longer needed to get an “ok, send to the client” for my work.

  6. ruby*

    If I saw someone using my title on LinkedIn for a time frame while I was in that job, I would absolutely contact them – I agree contactingthe person and not the company is the only viable option. The new company doesn’t want to hear all this drama…they can’t be expected to sort out who is right/wrong in a situation they weren’t a part of.

    I’m a little surprised AAM thinks this sounds like being a busy body – the reason being, this person has involved OP in their lie by co-opting their title. If for example they were at the company for 12 months and on LinkedIn, they said they were there for 3 years and OP wanted to get involved, I’d say stay out of it – it doesn’t involve you, let ig go. But someone claiming to have done your job for 9 months when they didn’t, that’s a different story in my mind.

    1. Eric*

      The implication here seems to be that when you go looking for a job, a potential employer is going to search LinkedIn to see if anybody else had the same title as you did at the same time. This strikes me as unrealistic (can you even do that search on LinkedIn?), and even if they found someone, wouldn’t they just assume that the company had two people with the same title? I can’t see how this could harm you.

      1. Piper*

        For my personal experience, the title I had generally is the only one a company has at one time. It isn’t a generic title like copywriter or graphic designer or anything. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive about the whole situation because of the way everything went down and how awful my previous employer truly was, but I hate that someone is saying that had my title and did my job for several months when in fact, they didn’t.

      2. ruby*

        You can do advanced searches like that on LinkedIn but I wasn’t even thinking of that specific scenario. For me, if someone was lying about doing my job in their profile on LinkedIn, I’d have enough of a problem with it to address it. YMMV.

      3. ThatHRGirl*

        I understand what you’re saying, but I think the worry of conflicting job titles is from assuming that those in a more tight-knit or niche industry might recognize your job title as one they’ve seen before (especially if, as previous posters have indicated about themselves, the title is very unique/specific).

        Such as… “Gee, I see that Eric’s profile has him as Manager of Chocolate Teapot Product Innovation… but didn’t I just come across Ruby’s profile the other day, with the same title? It seems odd to have two Managers of Chocolate Teapot Product Innovation at the same time”.

        1. ruby*

          Someone who worked for me lying about doing my job is a thing that I would address, not because of any specific scenario of confusion that could potentially occur, but because it’s just plumb wrong and it would bother me enough to address it. You gotta pick and choose your battles, and I’d pick this one and contact the person directly.

          It might not bother other people enough that they’d want to address it and I understand that. If they lied about their time worked at the company, I wouldn’t care that much, but this, yeah I would.

          1. Livid because of LinkedIn*

            Point of clarification from the OP – I’m not as concerned about linkedin search confusions – as it seems minor to me (and hopefully correctable if said confused person takes the quick step of sending a note to clarify) — I’m more concerned that she’s used my title and taken credit for my job/work to secure a better title without putting in the time.

            After mulling over the many comments here – I suppose it doesn’t directly impact my career …yet, pending if I hear back from their HR dept — otherwise, with the exception it may cause confusion down the line on linkedin — BUT, it does affect me in the purest sense of realizing that doing the wrong thing seems to pay. And, valuing ethical behavior – it’s just too much to KNOW she’s not only opted to blatantly do this (again, not hiding it, but posting it on linkedin for all our mutual colleagues to see) – but also – she’s profiting from it and leapfrogging her career years ahead.

            I’m realistic enough to know that this is the way of the world – and, definitely a firm believer in karma – so, agree with the sentiment above to find solace in my ethics at the very least.

            This reminds me of that show, “What would you do?” where they create controversial situations and see who would intervene and not. Most often I find myself thinking I would intervene and DO something about it when so many others just walk on by. In this instance – I’m realizing that walking on by may, in fact, be the right thing to do after all. (While I’m still considering the busybody tactic of asking her to change it – though I agree with the comment that she’ll probably not do it or do it and change it back later, so what’s the point?)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think you’re a lot like me in this regard. As I mentioned in the original answer to the post, I am very familiar with the sense of wanting to “make things right” when someone is doing something wrong. It drives me crazy to see people getting away with really bad behavior, more than it seems to bother a lot of other people. I know that I have the potential to really stew over that kind of thing if I let myself — but I fight it because it’s not a healthy response. I have to remind myself that it’s not my job to dispense justice; it’s just my job to make good choices myself.

              I say this because I completely understand why you’re so pissed off about this, but you still shouldn’t pursue it. From a practical standpoint, you’ll look bad to the employer if you mention it to them (for reasons others have already stated). You’ll also potentially turn this woman into an enemy who could potentially screw with you in the future (especially if you’re applying for a job there). And from a peace-of-mind standpoint, you’ll feel better if you make your peace with the fact that yes, lots of people do crappy things but it’s not your place to fix it.

              (By the way, I have managed to funnel that instinct to right wrongs fairly productively by working for advocacy organizations most of my career. It’s a useful thing to do with outrage.)

              1. Livid because of LinkedIn*

                Alison – It’s comforting to know that I’m not the ONLY Machiavellian careerist out there and definitely appreciate the sympathetic perspective. Perhaps a career change or volunteer opportunity is in order to funnel some outrage soon!

                I think the stat is 80% or so resumes contain outright lies (not just exaggerations) and I suppose the reason this is the case is because there is so little recourse or fear of getting busted. (Even when done so publicly) Isn’t that the fundamental truth about ethics? Those that are unethical truly believe that if they can do something without getting caught – it’s ok! UGGH.

                DEEEEEEEP BREATH

                Waiting for Karma…now, I wish it would be b*tchier and dealt more swiftly!

                1. Livid because of LinkedIn*

                  Oops – major typo above – I meant, “NON-Machiavellian”….yikes!

                2. Long Time Admin*

                  I’m so glad you corrected that phrase (Oops – major typo above – I meant, “NON-Machiavellian”….yikes!). It kind of threw me for a loop.

                  Yesterday, I saw a comment where someone wrote “a ligament concern” and I spent a long time trying to figure out that one, until I realize the person meant “a legitimate concern”.

                3. Anonymous*

                  Please find a constructive place to channel that “outrage”. Getting this upset over the behavior of people you can’t control and for which you are not responsible is going to give you an ulcer. And sticking your nose in other people’s business is going to make it bloody.

                4. X*

                  While I think some channeling of outrage is in order – I disagree that this isn’t the OP’s business. Someone of a lesser title took credit for doing the OP’s job and that is the definition of being their business!

                  At issue is, WHAT, if anything, can the OP do to stop this person from further advancing on another person’s work. I tend to agree with leaving “Karma” to do it’s work rather than meddling, unless directly asked!

        2. Steve G*

          Thats true. I have one of those jobs. Maybe a hundred fifty people in the industry in NY. I go to industry meetings once per month, so if someone said they had my job title…people might be confused about why I was at the meetings and not the other person.

      1. mishsmom*

        sorry – off topic but i can’t resist: @Wilton Businessman your pic is beyond awesome! :) (i LOVE Wile E.)

  7. fposte*

    Another “stay out of it.” You don’t even know that the current employer drew on an inaccurate history in the hire–the LinkedIn page might be the only time she claims this. And honestly, if I got a warning call from a previous employer about anything other than relevant criminal activities, I’d think it was really weird.

    1. Emily*

      I agree. As hard as it is to let it slide, you have nothing to gain but a bad reputation. If you assume the employee listed the position the way she did deliberately, what are the chances she’d correct it good-naturedly if you pointed it out to her? And if you point it out to her employer, he or she very well might think it’s weird, and worse, might talk to the employee about how weird it is.

      1. Anonymouse*

        +1. This is not normal behavior. Assuming someone made it past HR and contacted me directly about an employee, at best I would think she was a gossipy vindictive woman. At worst I would worry that she was unstable. Like obsessive Mark David Chapman unstable, with an intractable view of the world as she sees it.

        Imagine yourself on Judge Judy being sued because you proactively sought to, and succeeded, in causing material damage to someone’s career. Then imagine your defense is that her online Linkedin profile wasn’t what you thought it should be. Then imagine what abuse Judge Judy would heap upon you.

        And imagine the restraining order.

        Not worth it.

        1. Monica*

          While no one likes the thought of Judge Judy coming down on them – it’s interesting to consider what material damage is actually being done IF, in fact, she secured the job under false pretenses. IF they’d hired her due to the experience she doesn’t actually have – then, there’s probably no real actual damage except she lost or got demoted from a job she wouldn’t have actually been qualified to get. Assuming she made the same claims on her application as on her linkedin.

          I do agree I’d consider it strange and crazy to hear from an ex-colleague out of the blue. However, after I got over the “crazy” – my suspicion would definitely be aroused enough to check into the allegation.

          1. anonymouse*

            Those discussions are between employer and employee; vigalantes are asked to stay out. I mean material damage not by, but TO the one who got the job. Going into an employer and campaigning to get someone fired is not something to be taken lightly. It’s rather like hitting someone with a shovel because you saw them treading on the daffodils in a public park.

            And really, it’s a beautiful way for a stalker to try to insert themselves into another’s life. I bet estranged partners do this kind of thing all the time. “I have important info about so and so, let’s meet and discuss her.”

            1. Monica*

              I hardly think relaying factual information is “vigilante” territory (It’s not like the OP said she planned to go to the new company with megaphone in hand) and I don’t see any comments about the OP “campaigning” to get her fired.
              The material damage I meant was TO the one who got the job — having secured the job under false credentials and having lost said job due to the fact they didn’t have those credentials = no material damage. She would lose a job she wouldn’t have gotten in the first place – so, what can she claim is the material damage?

              It’s like buying stuff with a stolen credit card – getting busted and then saying that the goods you bought with the stolen credit card are being “stolen” from you when you’re forced to give them up. Really?

            2. Liz*

              Ha! Love your comments. Now I have Cybil Shepard’s performance in Serial Mom stuck in my head “No white shoes after Labor Day! “

  8. shawn*

    First, we have no idea whether this person got that new job specifically because of what they put on LinkedIn. Who knows what was on the resume, application, etc. Basically, it’s hard to know how much this person tried to misrepresent their experience and qualifications.

    Regardless, let it go. This doesn’t affect you. Worry about yourself. Mind your business. I’ve slowly learned these work lessons over time. No one likes a tattle tale/complainer, even if they are somewhat right.

      1. Jon*

        Agree with shawn that “who knows” what was actually really said and done. Though – seems odd to put the correct info on the application and resume and then go “public” online with grander title. Unless the company’s employees don’t frequent LinkedIn.

        I think I’d rather stretch the truth “privately”.

  9. ThomasT*

    So, a couple of things sort of tangential to the actual question occur to me. The OP says that “it appears she was able to secure a senior position,” which I read as a new position also on her LinkedIn profile. But if she lied about the position at OP’s company, what are the chances that the new position title and description are accurate?

    Also, it’s not necessarily the case that she lied when applying for whatever her current position is – a LinkedIn profile doesn’t necessarily match the resume that one submits for a job. She could have submitted an accurate application, and the new employer may even have verified details with the OP’s HR department.

    For those reasons, in addition to the ones that AAM makes, I think you probably don’t want to contact the new company. But a note to the offender might be worthwhile – just to let her know that people are watching and she will eventually be found out. I disagree that it’s busybody-ish. Having an unreliable employee misrepresent the work she did for your company puts the company’s reputation at some risk. Hiring and tolerating a dishonest person who lacks dedication is a somewhat understandable thing to do for a temporary assistant position, but less understandable for a more senior position.

    If you do decide to reach out to the employer, make sure that your communication is based 100% in the verifiable facts – that her LinkedIn profile misrepresents the job that she held with your company. Don’t say that she lied to the new company, or that you suspect her new title is fabricated, or anything like that. I would avoid commenting on her performance while at your company as well, unless there is documentation of it that she received while there.

  10. Livid because of LinkedIn*

    Hi – I’m the person who submitted the question and wanted to chime in to Alison’s P.P.S. about letting this person stay on despite their incompetence. I didn’t hire her on temporarily, my boss did — therefore, I was in a pickle when I discovered her incompetency. I attempted to address it with my boss when the temp’s work ethic (or lack thereof) became glaringly evident – but, ultimately, by drawing the conclusion she was a bad temp choice – only made my boss look bad, so in the end – THAT conclusion was never made. Essentially – I was told, “it’s ONLY temporary”.

    One other point to this story – after her temp assignment ended, she took a position at the next natural step. (i.e. from Asst to Manager) However, just 3 months later, it appears that role either didn’t work out/wasn’t to her liking OR, more likely, this Sr. position came up and she jumped ship to take it.

    It makes NO sense they would give her the Sr. title without having served a Manager role — thus, she must’ve changed her time as my Asst. to being the actual Manager. And – to clarify based on some comments above – it’s atypical to have two of this same position at any one time.

    What confounds me the most about this misrepresentation is that she could’ve very well lied about this in her interview and on her resume all behind closed doors. BUT, to do it on linkedin when we have so many mutual colleagues who KNOW she’s lying — what is the point of that? It’s definitely difficult not to take it personally — especially because it was clear I was onto her unethical behavior and obviously frustrated since I was powerless to do anything about it.

    1. Liz*

      This new information makes it sound as if rather than seeing her title clearly misrepresented, you are inferring information that you think is likely to be on her profile based on other information that you have and your strong personal dislike of this woman.

      Fwiw, Linked in doesn’t give much room for internal changes and if she’s as incompetent as you say, she might not have known how to separate the job duties and titles.

      Also, I realize that your organization seems to have a clear step from manager to Sr. title, but I am familiar with other organizations that have the exact opposite formulation. In fact, I regularly see titles for open positions and find after googling that the position advertised could be anything from low-level temp to one of the highest in an organization even though it is listed with a title I used to have. So I think it is at least possible she made an attempt to match her actual duties with another organization’s title structure.

      I know it is frustrating to deal with unethical people, but it just doesn’t sound like this person did anything to you. You had to work with her for a while. It wasn’t enjoyable. They wouldn’t let you fire her. Now she has a better job than you think she deserves. And you assume, based on what you wrote here, that the only way she could have been hired is if she claimed your title. That really isn’t enough to justify hurting someone else’s career and reputation, let alone the use of “livid” to describe your feelings.

      1. Liz*

        PS – I once worked with a person who wasn’t pulling his weight because of “personal problems” but asked for an email documenting our project’s progress at the end of each day while he was out of the office. He then put all of my accomplishments on his resume as his own work, which would prevent me from using these same bullet points on my resume because both our resumes were submitted with proposed contracts. It wasted a lot of my time and it was a jerk move. I do know how you feel. I still think it’s better to stop speculating about this woman’s possible chicanery and just let it go.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think we all understand the impulse–it’s the kind of misdeed that’s just grade-school unjust and makes you get really angry. But just put her picture up on a dartboard for a while; don’t call.

        2. Long Time Admin*

          What your co-worker did would get him fired at my company. Did he get more than just his hand slapped?

          1. Liz*

            I didn’t go to the bosses and he didn’t get a slap. I decided that turning him in would have made a small hassle for me into a large hassle for me and the team. After that I just assumed the guy was a liar and took care to document my work and get credit. The end of the day email actually turned out to be something I liked and kept because it made me focus on the big picture in a regular basis. If it makes any justice seekers out there feel better he was promoted-ish for the next couple years then mysteriously and suddenly became unemployed.

      2. Veronica*

        RE: FWIW I am pretty savvy with social media and I have no idea how to list internal title/position changes on my linkedin profile. In fact, it never occurred to me that I needed to do this, so as not to misrepresent my time at current company.

  11. Corey Feldman*

    I wouldn’t say a word, and if you do I would run it through HR first. BY doing so you could be violating your companies reference policy.

  12. Scott Woode*

    Let it go. Karma can be nasty and she’ll get hers in the end. Find solace in your ethics and let it be.

    1. Jamie*

      Beautifully put.

      Once, after a co-worker was let go I found that she had taken much of the documentation I had created and sent it to herself. I had no doubt that she would pass it off as her own – because I also found original documentation from her previous company that she’s passed off as her own to us.

      Irritating – yes. But I am sure karma kicked in the second a follow up question was asked about it. There is a lot more to trying to fake skills than just changing the author name in the footer.

      I do understand the anger though, if someone was impersonating my position I would be aching to topple their little scheme – but it’s not worth it.

      When you don’t check references you deserve what you get.

      1. AD*

        Oh, no, this type of thing is arguably stealing from your company. You should let your own company know.

        1. Jamie*

          Oh, I did. We have a no reference policy (only dates of employment, titles, and salary when asked) so after informing her former manager it was no longer my problem.

  13. Charles*

    I’ll weigh in with do nothing because the OP (and the rest of us) simply does not have all the facts. period.

    Now, if they had called you, OP, to inquire about her; then, yes, by all means tell them exactly what you know to be true.

    Otherwise, I vote for do your own job and not worry about someone else that you no longer have any dealings with.

  14. Heather*

    What is this, an entertaining plot for an 80’s Michael J. Fox movie or a real-life situation?! (The Secret of My Success).
    I agree with AAM that this girl is most likely going to wind up shooting herself in the foot by lying her way into a position that she is wholly unprepared for. As infuriating as it is, let karma run its course. The “happy ending” delivery boy-turned white collar executive through deception will stay where it belongs- in 80’s Michael J. Fox movies.

    1. Anonymous*

      Which was very unfortunate for those of us who were young and naive when that movie came out and foolishly thought we could do the same thing…

  15. Ellen M.*

    It could impact the OP in this way: two people on LinkedIn both claim to have the same position with the same title at the same employer for the same period of time.

    Of course a little detective work would reveal who was telling the truth… but at first glance it is confusing at least, with possibly something shady going on and the recruiter/hiring manager might not want to be bothered with figuring it out…

    1. Anonymous*

      “It could…”, “…possibly…”, “might not…”

      All good reasons to mind one’s own business.

  16. BCW*

    Its not really your business. Sorry to sound harsh, but as the 2 of you are no longer working for the same company, its not your concern. I”ve had some horrible co-workers in the past, but I’m not just going to run to their new boss about their past.

    It sounds like you really just want to make this woman’s life difficult. I don’t see how, even with the 2 of you having the same titles for that overlapping time, that it would hinder your future employment. It just sounds petty. Let it go.

  17. Josh S*

    “This presumably doesn’t impact you, and besides, if she’s as incompetent as you think she is, she’s probably not going to last very long in her new position anyway.”

    I dunno, Alison. Have you seen what passes for middle- to senior-management these days? Incompetence seems to be the norm…

  18. Livid because of LinkedIn*

    Appreciate all the feedback and comments, definitely helps to gain the benefit of so many perspectives!

    Not to add MORE to this already “entertaining plot” – BUT, I should add HOW I came to find out about my unethical colleague’s behavior. I actually submitted my resume to her new company and while researching the company on linkedin, came upon her profile since she’s now currently employed there.

    That said – my resume is with their HR department and I guess I could give them the benefit of putting 2+2 together — however, we all know how busy HR departments are these days, so maybe not. (As well, the comment above makes a good case that even on linkedin – only the very detail-oriented might noticed the overlap while clicking through profiles….)

    Now that I’ve stumbled on this information and, yes, the moniker, “livid” perfectly describes my feelings at this discovery. “Strong personal dislike” of this person is well-put by virtue of the fact that she made my life so difficult those 9 months (that seemed like 9 years!) — probably weighing heavily on why the call for justice seems more appropriate than ever.

    Given this “plot thickener” – would anyone consider my engagement with her new employer at this level “involved”? I understand if I contacted them out of the blue for no good reason to “tattle” on her — but, now that I’ve discovered her surreptitious stealing of my title/job — do I have any obligation to make the new employer aware of what I’ve found out?

    I suppose the upside is that I at least found out before further follow-up with them — how insane (i.e. mother of all plot twists) would’ve it have been if I was called in for an interview and she was one of the interviewers! Or worse, the job reported into her! :/

    – Less Livid because of Linkedin thanks to everyone here!

    1. Anonymous*


      Knowing that you have applied to a job at her company makes it an absolute no to me. It would make you seem bitter and like you’re trying to oust her so that you can get in (and sets her up to make you look like a crazy ex-colleague who is out to get her). As soon as you submit an application for a job, then have a complaint about someone already working there, it would make me question your motives and the legitimacy of your claim.

      If they approach you about it, I would be honest, but I wouldn’t bring it up myself.

    2. Jaime*

      I think bringing it up to HR while your resume is in for a position could be perceived as biased self-interest. If she’s managing to do a good job for this company so far, it will only damage you to point this out. Only if your industry or city is so small and niche that everyone would know there could not possibly be two people with the same title, AND if you honestly think HR would know/remember that she also claimed that title, then possibly it might help to mention it.

      Additionally, even if you sent a note to your former coworker about her LinkedIn, do you really think she’d change it? You’ve called her a liar and incompetent so I just can’t see that she would care that you or anyone else knows she’s fibbed on LinkedIn. However, if it would give you peace of mind to send her a polite note, feigning an interest in correcting a mistake, and you can let it go from there – go for it. If it would drive you crazy for her to still not correct it, then you have to let it go now. It’s not worth it to continue to focus on this, something that I is probably only enraging you because you’re worried it could negatively impact your own job search.

    3. fposte*

      Thirded. You will hurt your candidacy if you bring this up. If they ask if you worked with her, you say pleasantly that yes, you did, though it wasn’t for very long. Only if they directly ask you about the rank issue can you say that she was reporting to you, and even then I’d say stay away from the title issue. If after you’re working there for a while and there’s some issue that’s relevant or you’re called upon to comment on her suitability for promotion, this can be briefly mentioned as part of a larger picture, but it’s really not something anybody’s going to care about as much as you do.

      And you know, even if you ended up reporting to her or having her as the interviewer, it’s not a “Dun dun dun” level of drama unless you make it into that. People move around in an industry and hierarchies are fluid; it’s not uncommon to have power over somebody who used to be reporting to you. She’s probably not the only person you’ve worked with to overstate her accomplishments somewhere, either. Just roll your eyes for a while and then move on.

    4. Heather*

      I just wanted to clarify that I totally sympathize with your position and completely understand why you would be livid about this. I’m sorry if my relation of this as sounding like a plot for an 80’s movie came off as unsympathetic. I wasn’t trying to make light of your situation. I was more meaning it in a “this girl (who lied on linked in) sounds like she’s watched one too many 80’s movies. ” kind of way.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.”

        The first thing that came to my mind.

  19. Lisa*

    As I think I mentioned in a comment on the last one like this, we once had this happen at a workplace of mine — a candidate was offered an entry level position and before even starting work, he’d updated his LinkedIn with a nonexistent senior managerial position that would have had him supervising the person he had been invited to report to! Needless to say, the offer was rescinded.

    I agree with Allison, though: Even with the “interviewing at her company” twist, you shouldn’t say anything directly. If called for an interview and her name comes up, maybe give a broad smile and “Oh! She used to report to me, when my assistant was on maternity leave! What a small world!” and let them ask for clarification if they want it.

    If it’s a diseased enough organization that they don’t vet new hires AND wouldn’t even check into it if an obvious discrepancy came up via a new job application as described, you don’t want to work there.

    1. Liz*

      Glad you’re feeling more supported. Ditto on the “don’t say anything” for all the same reasons. It would make a negative first impression on the hiring manager if your first interaction with the company is a complaint about someone, and it probably wouldn’t get your former assistant fired anyway.

      Besides, if your circles are this likely to overlap, then it might be worth trying to establish a distantly cordial professional relationship. It really seems like there’s a lot of room for another side here. Maybe she took on extra work and responsibilities during the time when you saw her as only your assistant? (That could well explain both your bosses urging you to live with her, and your feelings that she neglected her duties). Maybe she has a knack for seeing the big picture rather than the details and that leads to her being promoted more quickly than average? Even if she is just a lying kiss-up, why make an enemy? And in this job market, trying to get someone else fired is a very serious thing to have on your conscience. Would you really want to do that to someone else?

    2. Anon.*

      Oh! She used to report to me, when my assistant was on maternity leave! What a small world!” and let them ask for clarification if they want it.

      ^^Perfect response, imo.

  20. Blinx*

    Leave it and let karma run its course. Just this week, the news is full of people in high places who lied their way to the top — listing degrees they didn’t have, work they didn’t do… and now they are paying the piper, albeit years later.

    Also, I’m not sure how much stock hiring managers put in LinkedIn vs. a signed job application detailing their work history. Lying on applications can be cause for future firing, but LinkedIn? Probably not, although lying in such a public arena shows incredibly poor judgment, let alone ethics.

  21. Lee Zaruba*

    “P.P.S. What’s up with letting someone you describe as totally incompetent work for you for nine months? That might be the bigger issue to focus on.”

    The submitter answered this. But I can also add from first-hand experience that some larger companies have a labyrinth of dismissal procedures that easily take 5-6 months to navigate. If you figure out within even 3 months that you have a big problem you have to put the employee on an improvement plan (2-4 months). Then you do a follow-up report (1-3 months). Then you have to run the paperwork through HR and Legal. Then you have to make sure you can get a replacement hire approved. If not, you ask yourself, “is this employee worse than having absolutely nobody at all in the chair?” (In some places, you even need to hold on til the next budget year so you do not lose the set, THEN you replace them).

    Sometimes the reason is to guarantee highest-common-denominator practices with foreign countries/cross-boundary divisions are adhered to. Sometimes it is just the way the culture is set up. But trust me. It can EASILY take 6-9 months to relieve oneself of an unwise hire.

  22. Nyxalinth*

    Did no one at her new position do any double-checking to make sure she actually did what she claimed to do? Or did I miss that somewhere?

    1. Livid because of LinkedIn*

      As I stated above, last I’d heard she’d gone to another company with a promotion to the next natural title/step. Now, per her linkedin, the timing appears to show a gap between our mutual company and this new one with the Sr. title – skipping the straight Manager title.

      My guess is she told the new employer she was still with the our mutual company and asked them not to contact them which is completely common during a job search. However, doesn’t completely make sense given the gap between jobs.

      That said – she was definitely on a track to this role, just never promoted to Manager — it’s not like she was an admin pretending to have managerial experience – therefore, she may well be able to “pull it off” if the new company’s expectations are low and they’re fooled by her “big company” background. (Emperor’s new clothes and all)

      I should also clarify that she probably isn’t completely incompetent – she just was when she worked with me because she had no motivation or reason to perform well as her main objective was to bide time while finding a new job. (I’m sure we can all relate to a colleague with one foot out the door)

      However, she is definitely an accomplished liar – not even counting this misrepresentation on linkedin.

      1. Liz*

        I hate to sound broken recordy, but you do not actually know she did that.

        It is really risky and drama-promoting to punish people based on a good guess. For all you know, her boss at the short-term job jumped to the new company and took your old assistant to the new company. Or your assistant had an in with the new company and was just waiting for an opening so she could take a job that has already basically been promised. I’ve seen both happen recently. I even know someone who just took an entry level job as a “Sr. Associate” who reports to a “manager.”

        Everyone on the board understands your frustration. Theoretical scenarios won’t make you feel better and miss the main point anyway. You didn’t like her. Someone else hired her. It happens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “Her?” when I saw the person who got a job I wanted. It isn’t productive though.

      2. Another Anonymous Person*

        Honestly, the more I read you complain about this person the more I think you are really immature and really need to let it go.
        Your posts really come off that you’re just bitter and jealous that she beat you to a position that you think that you should have. Sure, you probably should have this new Sr. position but, focusing entirely on her and the unethical ways she may or may not have gotten this position or focusing on how you can potentially sabotage her in this new position are not going to help you get where you want and need to be. Remember, truly, what she does or does not do in her life now does NOT change anything about your life now. Focus on yourself, focus on getting where you want to be and leave her completely in the past. Also, realize and accept you probably wont get the position at the company she now works at-which is probably better for you in the end.

        1. Livid because of LinkedIn*

          First, Liz – you don’t sound broken recordy at all! I opened the floodgates for opinions by posting and I want to hear it! Your positive perspective reminds me that I don’t want to right a wrong with a wrong.

          Second, Another Anonymous Person – By submitting a question to AAM, I obviously have a complaint/issue and, therefore, I’m guilty as charged for extolling the details of my situation to garner the meatiest and most relevant replies/advice. If I sound complaining, well, it’s because I am! If I sound bitter & jealous – well, that I can firmly respond, I’m certainly bitter that someone would have the gall to take credit for my work especially given her crappy work ethic and myriad of “little white lies”. (For some reason, if she was actually good at her job and didn’t make my life so difficult, I think I’d be less bitter) Jealous? Absolutely not. Jealousy of someone’s gain due to unethical behavior is something I will never entertain nor be envious.

          Frankly, my goal in posting here was to gain awareness of the situation beyond my personal view (Admittedly, it’s hard to see anything but “red” when affronted) and come to terms with it, put it to bed and move on.

          Based on all the comments above, I’m hearing a resounding, “stay out of it” and “let Karma run it’s course” which, as I mentioned in my OP is what I’d been hearing already. Plus, I believe your advice (and other commenters too) to shift the focus to me instead of her is soundly wise and one I will take heed. As Alison put it, it’s not my job to dispense justice even if some part of me wants to.

          I’m thankfully enlightened by the wide range of POVs that have shed vast light on all the different perspectives and the reality that there’s too much “unknown” to really draw any factual conclusions except that she’s taken credit for my job/title on LinkedIn and as several have commented – that, is not a signed job application and while a growing force in the professional world – probably not as pervasive for those not actively job seeking/networking.

          As for the job at her company – another commenter above, Lisa, who faced a similar situation – expressed my thoughts on the matter completely. If the new company is so diseased as to hire someone without properly vetting them and can’t put 2+2 together from my resume submission – I don’t want to work there and I’ve accepted that. Moreover, I don’t even think I’d want to work with this unethical person again – 9 months was enough! But, never say never, who knows if our paths will cross again in the future (another sage piece of advice above).

          Thanks to everyone who posted on this topic for such high-value input – it’s exactly what I needed to validate what I already thought was the proper course of action.

          Net – I’ll have to quash the “avenger” in me and let “Karma” do the avenging when the time comes!

            1. Heather*

              Haven’t see any perspective like this — I, personally & professionally, would appreciate being informed if someone I just hired wasn’t who she said she was and didn’t have the experience she said she had. Given that I’m probably compensating her for that experience, I’d be concerned I’d been intentionally duped to overpay her (“commensurate with experience”). Plus – I’d seriously question her other “credentials” and wonder how much more of her background was faked. Even if I did choose to keep her on because she was somehow performing (or HR won’t let me fire her) – I’d always wonder how honest she was in every dealing with her.

              Honestly, I probably wouldn’t care who contacted me – I’d think they might be a little overzealous, but, given it’s not typical to “bust people for lying” as a rule – I’d take the tip seriously and at least check it out so I don’t end up the fool. But, that’s me!

  23. Anonymous*

    At this point, it sounds more like dislike of the person. That’s ok. In my own experience, I’ve been told to remove items from my resume because including them made it “too long.” These tasks were included because I was working at a higher level than what the actual job title implied. When I informed my supervisor of this, she (and others) replied that I should just change my title on the project, thus removing the need to include those duties. As a result, two people are listed as having the same title (when there should only be one person with this title).

    If your co-worker, who, if I read correctly that she served as a manager for 3 months, was actually performing certain duties (at any time) as the job title implied, then maybe that is how she is justifying using that title.

  24. Yuu*

    My guess is she never thought you would read her Linked In and perhaps thought so highly of her own abilities that she gave herself a promotion.

    Telling the company (unless they point blank ask you) will make you look petty, in my opinion. And if you got the job, you may end up seeing more of her at the new company.

    Personally, I would try to link to her on Linked In with a note, “Hi! Do you remember me? You used to report to me, when my Taco Assistant was on maternity leave at Taco World! I am actually looking into a position at your new workplace, so maybe we will be working with each other again!”

    If she has any shame, she will correct her title on linked in and link to you, (and if she doesn’t correct it, it gives you an a reason to have noticed her “slip”). And it also may score you good will vibes – why make enemies when you don’t have to?

    1. Anonymous*

      Or… It could warn her that you’re coming and give her time to torpedo your chances of getting hired…

      1. EngineerGirl*

        I was thinking that too. She sounds like a psychopath I once worked with that took credit for my work. Lied straight to my face.
        She ran around telling others how I was “jealous” of her – which is why I wouldn’t reccomend her. Then she played the victim.
        It has now become VERY apparent that I was the one doing the work. I didn’t have to do anything.

    2. jn*

      Contacting a company that did not solicit your advice will indeed make you appear psychotic. Not to mention being labeled as a “typical catty female behavior” Let’s be realistic ….can you imagine a guy doing what the OP is proposing??

      1. Liz*

        Yes, I can. I’ve seen men pull much worse, actually (see my post above for a sample). I don’t think one half of the population has any sort of monopoly on backstabbing coworkers, and you probably don’t realize that when you say that only women do this you also imply that one half of the population is more trustworthy and so “better.” I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but that makes some people feel attacked unecessesarily.

  25. Sean*

    I would leave it. The employer will come to learn their mistake when the employee cannot fulfill the duties required of them due to lack of experience. Karma hurts. :)

  26. Ry*

    This situation would really bother me too, Ms. Livid, for the reasons you and Alison have listed – basically, a strong sense of justice and the stubbornness that (for many of us, me included) comes with it. I agree that for a plethora of reasons, you should not involve the company in this issue.

    However, you do deserve the chance to vent, so you can process your (totally reasonable!) feelings without damaging your own professional reputation. I sincerely hope that this discussion is helping – that Alison is hosting a chance for you to vent and receive support anonymously.

    If this thread is helping you, keep venting! Let us help! Then let it go, and go back to being the hard-w0rking, ethical person that you are. This person’s bizarre/unethical/naive behavior (whichever it may be) will only hurt her, in the end. Remember how long Bernie Madoff got away with his garbage before he finally got caught – but boy, did he ever get caught, once it finally happened.

  27. anon-2*

    heh heh heh

    Come on now, one of the things you can often fib about and get away with is what your duties entailed while you were in a “past life”.

    And if you can do that, and walk into a position, and prove that you can do the job — what is the big deal? Managers know this happens, why, most of them have probably used similar embellishments on their CV/resumes.

    It’s like salary — yes, a fudge factor is ALWAYS a possibility, and if the fudging isn’t outlandish, who’s to know? If you’re grossly underpaid at company ‘A’, you could still fib about that WITHIN REASON.

    Example = You are in a position making $50,000. Your company’s range for your position is $40-75,000. In fact there may be some people there making the upper range for what you do.

    Would it be a bad thing to say – “my current salary is in the $60k range” — and you’d get $65,000 or so to jump ship?

    Isn’t it supposed to be about “market value” ???? That’s what all the management books say — not “how much can we lowball this guy/gal and get away with it?”++++++

  28. SF Gal*

    I have a related situation as I found out an ex-boyfriend (who dropped out of HS and got his GED) has taken credit for my College degree from a fairly prestigious west coast university. It is on his LinkedIn and undoubtedly has been leveraged for his various employers. I have let it alone, but I would be lying to say it doesn’t bother me tremendously. I worked very hard as a child to get into the University, and supported myself through a large portion of completing my degree. Beyond annoyed.

  29. Amy*

    I think Linkedin should set up the approval process, let said this employee claim work for this company, the company should be notify and approve before link to their profile.

    When I saw the employees’ Linkedin profile don’t state their really title that upset me a lot, tried to look up some options by contacting Linkedin but no help.

  30. Gina*

    The person asking the question sounds bitter and like they have no life. Who cares? It doesn’t affect you. Sounds like you’re coming off as jealous because she skipped the non-senior role.

  31. Charlie Gorichanaz*

    It also bothers me tremendously a former roommate who never paid rent and impersonated me to steal $1200 from my bank account now fraudulently lists Stanford on his LinkedIn and positions with Google and other companies on his LinkedIn.

    Also, working in tech, I know many people who are otherwise qualified for positions don’t get looked at due to not having a prestigious degree, so I would imagine lies like this could truly benefit someone and help him skip a few major steps.

    I don’t know what to think; I hate dishonesty, but I also hate how name recognition often has more to do with success than ability.

  32. Jim*

    There’s no point given so many false claims here and there (even those not advertised to the world but just in the company). It’s everywhere. It’s here to stay. Why do you think profits are always just a fraction of what they could be? Because the wage bill is full of people helping someone else make their work life better (not what they were officially hired for) through loyalty no matter how unscrupulous and shady that means being.

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