Fired Because of LinkedIn?

3 Tips for Avoiding Your Employer’s Wrath

By Kelly Donovan, CPRW

The Internet has been buzzing with news about a UK executive who is suing his former employer over a dispute involving his profile–news that may be alarming to many who use LinkedIn.

Based on the article about it on MailOnline, the gist is that BG Group dismissed John Flexman after viewing his LinkedIn profile and having concerns with it.


While this was an unfortunate situation, don’t write off social networking. LinkedIn offers incredible opportunities to both active and passive job seekers.

Besides, there are ways you can be on LinkedIn without rubbing your employer the wrong way.

Here are some pointers
(as always, consult with an attorney on legal issues pertaining to your particular situation).

1. Find out if your employer has a social media policy.

Many employers have adopted social media policies in recent years to manage the numerous issues that can arise from employees using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Check to see if your employer has a social media policy or other rules that would pertain (hint: look at your employee manual). Be sure to read and understand all these policies and make sure you’re in compliance.

2. Don’t check the box on LinkedIn that indicates you’re interested in career opportunities.

According to MailOnline, one of the company’s complaints was that Flexman was in breach of a new conflict-of-interest policy that bans employees from checking the check box on LinkedIn that indicates an interest in career opportunities.

So you’re better off unchecking that box, especially if your job search is confidential, if your employer has a policy about it, or if you’re truly not looking for a job.

Keep in mind that an employer or recruiter who’s interested in you probably won’t be deterred from contacting you just because you didn’t check that box. Employers LOVE so-called passive candidates! By not checking that box, you may actually make yourself more attractive as a candidate.

3. Don’t include sensitive information pertaining to your employer.

Negative information

According to MailOnline, Flexman’s former employer was upset that he had included negative information about the company. This is a dilemma that sometimes arises in resume writing–the need to show how much you improved a department, project, or company without sounding like you’re trashing the company.

You’ll impress employers by saying that you “increased sales 37%…” but you’ll make enemies if you say you “reversed a sales downturn that occurred due to mismanagement.” You wouldn’t want your employer reading that, and the negativity could turn off other employers. Plus, it’s not necessary.

Another issue is information that isn’t necessarily negative, but could damage customer relationships. For example, would the company want customers to see on an employee’s profile that he’d increased profits 25% by reducing costs on a product, while increasing the product’s price? This might be acceptable on a resume distributed selectively, but it’s not really fit for the world to see, so I’d keep it off LinkedIn.

Proprietary information

As with the issue of negative information, the issue of proprietary information comes up all the time in resume writing. We want to demonstrate accomplishments and the level of your responsibility, so including dollar amounts can be impressive. But it’s important to do that without revealing information your employer needs to keep confidential.

So, for example, instead of saying that you “managed a $16 million territory…” you might indicate that you “managed an eight-figure territory” to give a general idea of the scope without revealing proprietary data that competitors shouldn’t know.

You should always be careful about what you reveal on a resume, as prospective employers could be turned off if they think you’re the type of employee who can’t be trusted with confidential information.

When creating a LinkedIn profile for a client, I like go through and make a few minor edits to the job descriptions from the resume since the LinkedIn profile will be visible to a broader audience.

The bottom line

There are always risks when it comes to employment, but I know that having a LinkedIn presence would be a risk I would take as an employed job seeker. Just exercise caution in how you present yourself on the site.

This article should not be construed as legal advice; you should always seek legal advice from an attorney if you need it.

Ready to learn more about LinkedIn so you can attract positive attention from employers?

Contact me today to talk about LinkedIn profile writing and my Link to Success training program that will get you up to speed on LinkedIn quickly!