May 8, 2013
It doesn’t happen often but it happens with enough regularity that I decided it was time to blog about it. Blog about what? LinkedIn Profile PLAGIARISM!
As I said, this is not a common occurrence but it has happened in the past and because humans are humans, it will continue to happen. A person may be looking to optimize their LinkedIn profile and rather than putting in the work (or $$) themselves, they find an awesome profile that speaks to them and they copy and paste it into their profile. I truly believe the plagiarizer doesn’t realize what they are doing is wrong. In fact, when I have confronted people in the past about LinkedIn profile plagiarism, they have said, “But Donna, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!” Most people know it’s wrong to copy passages from a book into a college essay yet somehow, taking a LinkedIn profile is fine in their book.
Plagiarism of LinkedIn profiles is wrong!
One of the reasons I think people don’t see the issue with copying a LinkedIn profile is because so many LinkedIn profiles are copied and pasted from resumes. If it’s okay to copy and paste your resume into your LinkedIn profile, why not copy and paste another LinkedIn profile into your LinkedIn profile? Right? WRONG!
I’ve said this before and I simply don’t get tired of saying it:
Your LinkedIn profile is NOT your resume. Your resume is your career history. Itís dull, boring and often task-based. Your LinkedIn profile is your CAREER FUTURE! Itís who you are, how you help people, and why you deserve to be noticed. A POWERFUL LinkedIn Profile sells YOU! Don’t copy and paste your resume! Use this opportunity to take control of your Internet identity and truly present yourself in a way that inspires, impresses, and builds confidence in your abilities, products, and services.
Each LinkedIn profile should be unique and copying & pasting from a resume OR from another person’s LinkedIn profile is wrong.
Most of the people who contact me for help find out because they see the plagiarizer snooping around their profile in the Profile Stats page. Keeping an eye on your Profile Stats (Who’s Viewed My Profile) is one way but there is a more proactive way to find out if your LinkedIn profile was plagiarized:
1. Open up your LinkedIn profile.
2. Copy a phrase from your profile. You may opt to copy your Headline or a sentence within your Summary.
3. From LinkedIn’s Advanced Search page, paste this phrase, encased in quotes, into the Keyword search field:
Click the Search button.
Did only your LinkedIn profile appear in the search results or were more profiles listed?
If your profile is the only result, you may want to copy a different phrase from your LinkedIn profile and try again.
This is a clear case of plagiarism. Yes, the person changed a few words here and there but the majority of the content is a direct copy and paste from my LinkedIn profile.
Okay, so now you know there is a person out there copying your LinkedIn profile. What do you do?
First off, is this a case of plagiarism where they really did lift a lot of text or just a little? In the example above, the person did in fact steal my work. But is it worth me going after him? The profile appears to be a joke. The person in the profile picture is a child and he is located in India. It’s really not worth me going crazy. Now if this person was a LinkedIn profile writer and they are stealing my words and potential business, I might feel differently. There are times when the plagiarism is a violation and it must be stopped.
Check out this example:
Here are two LinkedIn profiles… virtually mirror images! The original profile is a Platinum client of mine. He found the copy after noticing William Page lurking around his profile one Saturday afternoon.
This is an unusual sitation because it’s not just a case of a person copying and pasting his Headline and Summary. This person is copying his EXPERIENCES and EDUCATION too! Because this person copied EVERYTHING, I don’t believe he is a real person. Most likely, this is a SPAMMER who needed to look legitimate and he copied and pasted a great looking LinkedIn profile. More often than not, you will find just the Summary or Headline copied. Regardless of the situation, here are the directions on what you can do to remove the copied profile:
1. CALL THE PERSON ON THE PHONE
What? Call them up and confront them directly? Yes. Believe me, it’s far too easy to ignore emails. By picking up the phone and talking to the other person, you are showing you mean business. You also are increasing the odds that they will remove the plagiarized parts of their profile.
Here’s what to say:
“Hi William! My name is Dave and I am looking at your LinkedIn profile right now… your profile is quite impressive! In fact, it appears to be a direct copy and paste of MY profile. I am sure this was inadvertant on your part but I worked long and hard on creating a profile that was unique to me. Rather than report this to LinkedIn, I figured it would be best to contact you directly because, like I said, I am sure you didn’t mean to steal my profile.
If you need help creating a POWERFUL LinkedIn profile, you can buy Donna Serdula’s book, LinkedIn Makeover: Professional Secrets to a POWERFUL LinkedIn Profile OR you can even hire her to write your LinkedIn profile for you!
Okay, you don’t have to include the advertisement for my services in your conversation ūüôā
You will most likely find the person is apologetic and a little embarassed. Don’t yell at them. Be polite and nice. I know you feel violated but it’s not worth taking your anger out on the other person. Trust me when I tell you they really didn’t mean it.
2. FLAG THEIR PROFILE
If you absolutely can’t figure out how to obtain the person’s contact information OR the person wasn’t interested in being polite, it’s time to report their profile to LinkedIn.
From their Public Profile, click the Connect Button and choose Flag as Inappropriate. A pop up box will appear. Choose Misrepresentation from the droplist. In the Details box, write something like this:
[box type=”shadow”]This profile is a direct copy and paste of my profile. Here is my original profile: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/toDonna[/box]
3. CONTACT LINKEDIN’S TECHNICAL SUPPORT
You tried contacting the person and you flaggged their profile as problematic. Now it’s time to contact LinkedIn directly. Visit LinkedIn’s Help site by clicking here. Once at LinkedIn’s Help site, click the Contact Us link on the top Navigation bar. You may have to perform a search before LinkedIn allows you to click the Contact us link.
Provide LinkedIn with the name of the member, the URL link or screenshot of the profile and a description of exactly what has been plagiarized.
If you are a non-paying member, you may hear back from LinkedIn within the next millenium. If you are a premium member, you should definitely hear back from LinkedIn within the next 6 weeks to 6 months. LinkedIn values customer service and they believe in providing timely assistance.
Eventually, LinkedIn will research the issue and act upon their findings.
When people have reached out to me for help on dealing with a plagiarized LinkedIn profile, they all share a feeling of being violated and victimized. It’s terrible when you work long and hard to create a unique profile only to find that someone took your words and made them their own. Even though our natural tendency is to strike out, I caution you against it. Make sure the situation warrants the removal of the text… remember my first example in this blog post! Sometimes it’s best to accept it as flattery and move on. If it is a situation where the person is out and out stealing, work with them nicely. Call them on the phone and demonstrate your professionalism. Take the high road… even if you want to throw the person off the high road to the ocean below and watch them splash around.
Has your LinkedIn profile ever been plagiarized? How have you handled it? Do you have any best practices to share? Please post in the comments below. Just scroll down!
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