Subscribe
The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

LinkedIn Extortion

In the January 17, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a boss tries to turn a new employee’s LinkedIn profile into an ad for the business. Is this LinkedIn extortion?

Question

linkedin extortionMy new employer wants me to list in my LinkedIn profile that I’m working for her, and to include the company’s logo, but I’m still in the 90-day probationary period of my new business development job. I don’t want other employers to see it yet. She’s made no commitment to me, and besides, I still don’t have the private office or company phone she promised.

She has also strongly suggested that I change my profile so my “message aligns with the company’s.” She’s very into branding, and wants her business to be found when people find my profile — yet she does not list any of her employees on the company’s website. Besides, my LinkedIn profile is my marketing piece, not my employer’s! She even asked me to delete the last part of my summary in which I list what roles I’m looking for next in my career.

I’ve tried to skirt this politely, but today she asked me when I’m going to do it. Because this job is different from others I’ve had, she wants me to omit key words from old jobs that aren’t consistent with her business. Meanwhile, I’m really trying to make this job a success. I just don’t like being pressured to re-write my resume — that’s what a LinkedIn profile is, after all — so it “aligns with the company’s message.”

I really want this job to work out. What should I do?

Nick’s Reply

Is your boss a dummy? She’s ridiculous to presume she has any right to dictate what you put on your LinkedIn (or any other social media) page. Unless, of course, she’s willing to pay you an advertising fee… (more on this later).

If you’re going to add this new job to your LinkedIn profile, she has to earn it. I once had a girlfriend who insisted I wear a “friendship ring” so that people could see I was “attached.” We soon parted company.

Look at it this way (she clearly doesn’t): Would your boss ask to see your new resume, so she can pass judgment on what you include about her company? What’s the difference between that and your LinkedIn page?

LinkedIn extortion

This looks like a kind of extortion: Let me control your LinkedIn profile and I’ll let you keep your job.

Rather than assert any rights over your social media assets, your boss should stay mum and hope you decide on your own to add her company to your LinkedIn profile. Just like my old girlfriend should have stuck to hoping we’d stay together — without demanding that I “brand” myself with her logo.

Is your LinkedIn profile part of your boss’s advertising and branding? Or is it yours? I’ve never heard of an employer making this kind of demand.

Will she ask you to alter your Facebook page next? Will she ask you to start tweeting about her business from your personal Twitter account? Where will it end?

So, what do you do? You can talk with her frankly and tell her your LinkedIn page is not up for discussion. Or you can do what she asks and take your chances. However, I think you have a card to play here. If you decide to post something on your profile to make a concession, I’d ask for something back. Maybe like this:

How to Say It

“My social media pages are not intended to promote anyone’s business — they promote me. Listing my current job is a small part of what defines me. I would add more about this job after I’ve been here for a year, but I’d consider adding it now if you’re willing to end my probationary period and make a full commitment to me — including providing the office and company phone you promised.”

Does that sound too strong? Then modify it to suit you. But do you see the point? Sometimes, you have to test your boss — because I think your boss is testing you. You might as well find out sooner rather than later whether this is someone you really want to work for long-term. For example, if you’re concerned about broken promises regarding an office and phone, you may realize other promises are on the line, too: What to say to a stingy boss.

Here’s another way to help her see your point, since she’s so focused on marketing:

How to Say It

“With all due respect, using my LinkedIn profile to promote the company would be like you buying ad space on a website — and of course I’d never ask you to buy space on my LinkedIn page. I think there has to be some separation between the company’s marketing and an employee’s own professional marketing.”

Am I serious — should you offer up your LinkedIn profile if your boss pays you? Of course not. I’m trying to make a point. Tweak my suggestions as necessary, or don’t use them at all. It’s food for thought. (So is a larger question: Is your boss too preoccupied with LinkedIn as a marketing tool? She should read LinkedIn: Just another job board.)

Realistically, your LinkedIn profile is not going to drive any business to your boss, any more than your resume would! It’s clear to me your boss has already made you uncomfortable by suggesting a kind of LinkedIn extortion, and that should not be. At some point, you must draw a line – even if it risks your job.

(For more about personal branding for career advancement, see Branding yourself suggests you’re clueless.)

Is this LinkedIn extortion? Would you let your employer have any control over what’s on your LinkedIn profile? How would that affect your marketability to other employers? What should this reader do?

: :

65 Comments
  1. Wow. Extortion, bribery, whatever you call it, she clearly a) is delusional about the power of branding for companies smaller than Coca-Cola or Apple, and b) has no idea what a personal or professional boundary is. Get her a psychiatric referral and quit immediately.

  2. Hi Nick.
    What a thorny tangled mess “social media” has become!
    I agree with you that the boss in this scenario has no right to insist that her on-probation employee alter her LinkedIn page to suit what the boss wants.
    But you raise an interesting point: When it becomes customary for people to change the information on their profiles to match the current Company “Bio”, the lines of ownership of the information that’s posted begin to blur.
    If a new employee’s probation period is not extended to full-time employment because they won’t get on the Company’s LinkedIn boat, is that justified cause for that person to bring a lawsuit?
    What about if an employee posts on his/her LinkedIn profile that they work for Company X, and then Company X is found to be involved in a terrible scandal. Are the employees justified in bringing a suit against the company for “defamation of reputation by association”?
    I’m sure that lawyers in the U.S. will gleefully dissect and argue over this stuff for years.
    Cheers,
    Eric

    • As a recruiter, I prefer to see someone’s unique profile vs corprate speak. Loads of people do not update their profiles right away…because they are busy! I like the idea of checking out how other employees present the company. Good luck, be positive, honest and see how she reacts. Sometimes it is best to move on. No shame in it, nor does it always matter if you show ‘jumping’ jobs, so long as there is or are good reasons.

    • This isn’t about lawsuits. It’s about who owns your Linkedin profile and its content.

  3. Circa 2010, I fell into depression because I thought I would only be able to find work if I converted to Corporate Religion. I guess I was just 7 years ahead of my time.

  4. I’d be worried about letting the camel’s nose in the tent. Once you’ve done this, what’s to stop her from asking about your Facebook account or Twitter or any other social media accounts one may have? And if you’re not on these, what’s to stop her from asking about creating accounts on them and posting stuff to help her “brand”? What’s to stop her from asking you to delete previous jobs when she founds out (or just thinks) that old company works with a competitor?

  5. I’d be seriously on guard. She sounds incompetent, not skillful at her own job and delegating responsibility for her success. The flip side would be blaming you if she under performs.

  6. She is a prime example of how someone can care SO MUCH about the opinion of strangers, but I’m willing to bet she couldn’t care any less about a stranger’s LinkedIn or their company’s information. It takes two to Tango and as much as I view BD as an excessive business expense that produces enough results as a thief would (yes, that was harsh, but BD is near impossible to measure and it’s the client-facing employees like project engineers that have the true relationship and garner additional business), but the employee here needs to speak to the elephant in the room and move on. He’s preserving his “professional marketing” for an underlying reason: he ain’t happy. A telling example is the fact his current job is different from the previous roles at his former employers.
    Call a spade a spade and keep looking for new employment. I’d love for him to be as Frank as Nick with those how-to-say-it suggestions because anyone and everyone deserves to hear reality. It may burn a bridge, but let’s be honest and admit we kinda respect those a-holes who spoke truth to us in the past because we’ve avoided whatever that error was since!

  7. We own you, lock stock and barrel. That’s the message. Until, of course, we find someone younger or cheaper, or need to do layoffs to bump up the executive bonuses. Then you’re just an expendable asset.

  8. This boss needs to have the boundary set. This kind of behavior demonstrates that she is lacking both self awareness and social media savvy.
    Branding, to me, is the worst thing thing that has been propagated over the past 10 years…..all image and no substance. The only real personal brand in authenticity.

    Nick obviously gave you good advice. Since you want to give this job a chance and hope things will work out, I would add this strategy:
    When declining to use your linked in profile in the manner she would like, offer a suggestion that would better accomplish her goal.
    The one you mentioned about not having bios on the website is a good place to start. You can simply offer to write a bio that fits more of what she has in mind and encourage others you work with to do similar. You can sell her on the value of investing in the upgraded site and the offer to be available to help promote the company when they have recruiting activities or booths at conferences. You could also remind her of Glassdoor and offer to add an anonymous honest review once you have been at the company for a while. No harm in that and then it is up to her to treat you in a way that would reflect well Publicly in a review.

    When declining to use your Linked In profile for company purposes, you could also add at the end of your schtick “I hope you understand”.
    This is a kind way of confirming your decision and putting the next steps back on her.

    • I like the idea of offering alternatives that address the boss’s legitimate interests, while parrying the silly request to appease her on your LinkedIn profile.

  9. I think there is a bigger problem that is under the surface. Most new employees are excited about there new job, posting info for all the world to see the new chapter in their life. I am always concerned when a new employee has chosen not announce to the world that they have joined my team. It is certainly your right but to post or not, but either way, a strong message is conveyed.

    Your employer has chosen not to honor their commitment of an office and company phone. Either they don’t understand the negative value of unfulfilled promise, don’t care or are calculatingly choosing to hold off on this part of your deal….. any of these are bad. The most important aspect of leadership is trust. Doing what you say, encouraging your staff to believe you “have their back”. That is how you build a lasting relationship that allows all parties involved to be totally invested in each other’s success.

    This relationship wreaks of mistrust. Good luck, but I’m not confident this is the right fit for you.

  10. Is seems that your boss has you on probation, but not herself. She should…want to earn your support and praise, especially since it appears the new job is to sell her products or services. Maybe the conversation will help her see where some boundaries need to be. I would risk it with a kind and frank conversation. She won’t fire you, as that would be a litigious issue. She might respect you more!

    • Yah, maybe the boss needs to be demonstrating the value of working at the company, and let the employee draw the conclusions.

  11. I think your boss sounds controlling and manipulative and possibly even narcissistic. This is crazy to ask you to modify your social media site(s) for her. Your boss may not like you setting a boundary with her but you need to. She thinks she owns you and it won’t get better. She believes the end justifies the means. Your needs will never be met by her, hence no phone yet. Even if you appease her, it won’t stop. Some people have something wrong inside them that makes them act that way and you can’t fix it, no matter how nice or how appeasing you are.

  12. I am being paid to represent the company and feel obligated professionally to post accurate content that promotes the company, impresses the reader and compels a response.

    Personally, I would accurately post whatever content you’re comfortable with. My LinkedIn describes my role and uses the company’s tagline and branding statement.

    Your LinkedIn content is your business (brand). Your profile should be authentic to your brand which evolves overtime keeping in mind, all content can be edited later as your brand changes.

    In the end, if things don’t work out, you can always edit or remove.

    I do agree with Nick that you have to insist (fight) for all benefits promised. Hopefully you can reference your offer letter which should outline all terms and any verbal promises.

    • I’d argue that the proper place for company marketing would be on the company’s page on LinkedIn and employees should be encouraged to share updates from there.

      • There’s no mention of a company page either, which is where the brand SHOULD be, not on your profile. That would be another diversion–suggest you build and admin a company page, then everyone ‘follows’ it INCLUDING HER. BTW, I wonder what her profile looks like…

  13. Go to the Spy Store and get a spy pen, tape every conversation with her so you have proof of extortion when she fires you for not caving- just kidding…or am I?

    Nick was spot on with the answers, you have to decide which way to go- tell her no in a very professional way or negotiate it, either way she is not someone I’d like to work for.

    One more note, do not let her see that you are nervous or scared for your job, blood in the water and all that; she is a predator.

  14. A few years ago a company hired me – and in spite of their low-ball offer I took the position – I had other offers, however. As soon as I got hired, they asked me to take my name off all job boards – they were offended that I didn’t do it right after they gave me an offer. They turned out to be a terrible company that treated employees like dirt. My boss left after 3 months, and I found another job in a hurry. This was in 2008. Lesson learned: Don’t take yourself out of the job market just because you have a job.

    • That company reminds me of the SevenFigureCareers “contract”: If you tell anyone you were scammed, 7F wants you to agree to pay a $25,000 penalty. http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/9485/wwejss-fake-recruiting-firm-credit-card-merchant-account

      The bigger lesson: Don’t ever be intimidated into believing that anyone can commandeer your rights.

      • The bigger lesson: Don’t ever be intimidated into believing that anyone can commandeer your rights.

        I totally agree. I resigned from a job because the employer tried to commandeer my rights to working with a company I have no respect for and dislike.

        I’m no fan of LinkedIn, and have never shared social media pages or URLs with any employer.

        Tread carefully on this one, though. That 90 day window can be a slippery slope.

    • @Kevin:

      Companies have reputations, and I’m learning – far, far too late in life! – that generally these are deserved.

  15. I totally agree this is out of line because of the approach the boss is using. But let me also offer this perspective. I work in PR and for my clients, I review the LinkedIn profiles of their execs and make recommendations about things they could do to better represent the company. For instance, if an executive does not have their current title, it can be confusing to media who try to quote her/him. If they have a personal picture rather than a professional one, that can also be less optimal since LinkedIn is a key part of marketing the executive to external audiences (customers, media, funders, etc.). When a company does a merger, it’s important that the employees change their profiles so the new company looks unified. However, I always approach these as helpful recommendations versus orders.

    If this new employee does not note that she is part of the company, how does that look to people she is meeting and engaging with at work? Yes, LinkedIn is a private thing, but when you make your profile public, you have to consider how it impacts your current job. That is for her benefit in making new connections as well as being beneficial to her employer.

    • Thanks for discussing the other side of this. I intentionally compared LinkedIn profiles to resumes to stir some debate, because Linked profiles blur the line between profile as resume, profile as social media presence, profile as encyclopedia entry, and profile as career tool.

      Your employer might not have access to your resume if you’re always on the prowl for a better job. You control access to your resume. But as you point out, it may be to a person’s own advantage to keep their profile consistent with their current job — as a way to enhance their success at their job.

      So, how do we manage this? Should LinkedIn offer multiple versions of your “profile,” whose access you control? One for career purposes, one to tout your current job and role? And others? Is Jeff Weiner asleep at the wheel while he counts his job-board dough and all those pricey “recruiter seats?”

      What is LinkedIn really? How can you leverage AND control it?

      • Good Question. Linked in is prime for being disrupted by other sites that actually cater more employees and workers. It has become so corporate-y and some what dishonest branding tool that it is no longer a place for people to genuinely connect.

        https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/02/07/career-networking-for-blue-collar-workers/SudLgx3RYq9c6f1ZgqZocN/story.html

        Plus, once has to be a little careful about expressing an alternative view point on about something posted on Linked In.
        Ex: yesterday I saw a meme listing the top 10 most regarded pharmas as noted by Forbes.
        Let’s just say about 3-4 companies absolutely didn’t belong on that list. I could easily add a comment stating the inaccuracy and concern. I would also never be employed again by anyone in any industry. Linked in is just a place for corporations to promote and for me to email former colleagues confidentially through the message ap.

        • LinkedIn ceased being a professional network when it hired the boilerroom team from HotJobs to sell job postings. It turned into a job board, and now it’s little else but that and a PR platform for execs who use ghostwriters to write “thought leader articles” (gimme a break) and a place for would-be pundits to help LinkedIn generate click-bait revenue.

          (Oops. Will I get fired for saying that???)

          • It’s worse than that, imo. I keep a close eye on on who visits my webpage with my portfolio (my tracking stats show IP addresses which sometimes are traceable to a company). Too many times after applying for a job with a company I’d observe visits from multiple IP addresses within that company’s vicinity, followed by the inevitable StinkedIn notification that someone from that company snooped (let’s call it what it is) on my profile …and that’s where the whole thing ends. I can’t help but conclude that I made a good first impression with my resume, a good second impression with my website (otherwise, why waste time proceeding to view my StinkedIn profile at all?) but failed to impress them with the most important thing these days — “this person clearly has the background/skills/talent we’re looking for, but now we have to see where s/he falls on the age/attractiveness category.” On a few occasions, that’s *all* they looked at, my work history and recommendations aren’t as important as my profile pic — gotta look hot to get hired!

            A sick site for a sick job market in an equally sick society. /rant

          • @sighmaster: Or it could be something you said.

            I recently got feedback from someone commenting that things that I say online about the hiring process made me “not desirable”. Now, when I get that kind of feedback, I push back and ask “OK, so what did I say that was not true? I’ll scribe an immediate correction.” I get one of these responses

            1. Crickets.

            2. Some version of “you’re angry” or “you’re unmanageable” which IMHO translates to “you’re not servile enough”.

            3. One person said “I’d be afraid you’d be after my seat next”.

            Hiring managers and HR check out your SM postings to discover your character, failings, and human weaknesses… and then are shocked and horrified to find you have a character, failings, and weaknesses.

          • @davidhunt, I very rarely comment over there these days (my activity feed currently says ‘no activity in two weeks’), my personal blog is under a pseudonym, a google search of my name doesn’t reveal anything much (I confess I have an Etsy store), and all of my online comments like here are done anonymously. The one site that does concern me is fakebook. My mom met a woman at a friend’s party who said she works in hr, her job is to “investigate” people online including viewing their fb pages. I had explained the whole privacy settings thing to my mom, and she brought that up to this woman who said “oh, we have ways of looking at your fb page.” So, who knows. I did close my account for a year but I didn’t see any improvement in hearing from hiring mgrs — not that there’s nekkid pics of me posted there or anything, just some chat with friends and the occasional cat video…

          • David Hunt: “We want people who think out of the box, but not ones who SAY or DO anything controversial!”

            Or maybe they mean, “We’re not thoughtful enough to judge meaning in context.”

  16. I get tired of hearing about “branding.” I am not impressed by buzzwords nor fancy graphics – they are empty entities. As a hardware engineer for a company that has an excellent “brand”, I put a lot of hard work in to make sure my designs live up to people’s expectations of that brand. Sorry folks, but public relations only goes so far.

    PS: My grandfather was into branding big time. I would not want to have been on the receiving end of his brand – he was a cowboy. Lesson learned: A brand is merely an identification. Need I say more?

    • I can agree about PR’s reach. PR serves a purpose and has a value, but after a certain effort I find it hard to justify its prominent importance. To elaborate, we’re relying on a STRANGER to invest their attention in caring about what we’ve produced. How can we possibly invest so much attention to ourselves but expect a stranger to focus their attention on *us* when we’re not delving so deeply into them? I’m talking LinkedIn profile (not a TV commercial or a retail store’s Twitter response to a scandal).
      We have to judge the importance of our LinkedIn appearance against the amount of time we ‘care’ about someone else’s profile.

    • I think of a real brand as being reputation. It’s in the mind of the beholder, but your behavior defines it.

      • Well put. On the other hand, there is much I do not understand about marketing – otherwise, I would be running my own company.

        • Kevin: Just hire a marketer to run your company. H-P tried that with Carly Fiorina. Turned out well :-)

  17. I think the boss in this case is missing the point of LinkedIn and Social Media/Networking in general.

  18. Nick,

    Great suggestions on handling the situation. Here’s one more perspective – tell the boss you agree to take the LinkedIn profile offline until the 90 day probation period expires. That’s equal pain for both parties; the boss doesn’t get to promote her “brand” and the employee doesn’t get to seek out other jobs during the probation period. I suspect the boss would hate this idea, giving you some significant information. But it could lead to the frank and honest discussion that needs to take place. That discussion could also provide an insight into just what motivates the woman. She would need to explain in detail why the LinkedIn “branding” is so important to her, and many questions could be asked leading to a better understanding of her personality and motivation.

    • Larry B: Interesting idea, but you’re assuming the boss should expect a right to stop the employee from seeking other jobs at any time at all.

  19. The risk is that he will get let go during probation period for who knows what excuse.

    Boss has already shown herself to be loose cannon. Even being on a 90 day probation at a professional level job is a bad sign, and my experience is that the worse the job, the worse they treat you in all aspects.

    • The ‘probationary period’ indicator should make this person run. That is usually a signal that they will extract the maximum and let you go at the end of the time.

      First time on a 90 day probationary period was with a long-since-acquired family-owned mid-sized business travel company. They worked the HELL out of me, including research, initiate exploring alternate brand positionings, a marketing agency search, and get them to recommend a repositioning–as well as the usual maintenance work. Then right before the 90 day mark, when my healthcare would start, they pulled the plug. My boss found a down-on-her luck marketing manager (she was working in a furniture store) for half my salary. Then a few months later, he got fired (for alcoholism)–I can’t blame him for drinking with that family.

      The second was in healthcare tech some years later and exactly the same thing, except that the CEO had a man-crush on a guy he hired for BD in San Diego, who had no interest in having me in the NY office as a senior marketer. I had originally suggested hiring on as a consultant but the CEO would have none of it, which was also quite interesting. In both cases, I needed the job and the money, but my morale took big hits.

  20. To me the person seeking the advice is weak and incapable of making common sense decisions on their own. Several questions arise about this situation.
    #1 How much research did this employee do prior to accepting the current position? If the employer is as bad as claimed, evidence to substantiate that would be available and assist the person in either accepting or rejecting the position.
    #2. Why doesn’t the employee focus on their job skills and utilize this as the foundation to either reject or accept the employer’s request/demand? If the position requires needed skills to compete in the marketplace, the employee has a trump card to say no to the alledged extortion attempt.
    #3. What is the history of this company? Is there a revolving door of employees who come and go frequently? Again the answer to these two questions is done via prior research into the company.
    Based on this limited information, I contend the employee is not that high in the company’s management structure and also has little experience with decision making. As an employer, I would not promote this employee beyond the position they currently hold.

    • Tomas, the employee isn’t the bad guy here. Research can’t turn up every oddity and red flag during the job pursuit. There’s nothing to suggest the employee isn’t trying to focus on building their job skills. The 90-day probationary period (which should go by the way of the dinosaur IMO) unfortunately hangs like a Sword of Damocles over people and too often it gets used to intimidate. Where this employee is in the company food chain is irrelevant. The manager is the one with the problem here. She is an egomaniac and being manipulative and trying to hijack another person’s private domain. You can certainly try to “horse trade” and negotiate something in return for this, but since they haven’t been able to fulfill their promises after they hired you, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Cut your losses and move on.

    • Tomas: All good questions. But I don’t think we can trash the OP for asking for help, and we have no idea how the OP wound up in this situation. Perhaps a need to pay the rent?

      I hope the OP sees your questions and considers them before taking another job.

  21. In a former job, my employer (or LinkedIn) sent me multiple invitations to join LinkedIn, via my company e-mail address. I just ignored these e-mail requests, because I already had a LinkedIn account that was linked to my personal e-mail address. Eventually, the invitations stopped coming to me; no words were spoken about this. I just refused to “link in.”

  22. I think the big picture is the person just got good insights on her boss & related working environment. As Nick said, what’s next a tat of the company logo on your forehead? instinct says leave. guaranteed, you’ll be asked to do other nonsense inside to frustrate you. You’re hoping to either adjust to, or find the boss will settle down. I’m afraid you’ll spend your time with that company digging through a manure pile looking for the golden pony..to find there’s no golden pony in there.

    I’m sure as an employer it’s nice to see that your team members align with your/your companies values, ideas, mission etc. And I’ve read a lot that do, & don’t seem contrived.

    But I think it has to be earned….and can only be earned when you’ve been around long enough to really experience them & believe in them. and voluntary

    but in less than 90 days, right after coming aboard? That can only read as stupid and contrived. And whatever that boss thinks it suggests..it’s suggesting the opposite, drivel.

    And the boss isn’t thinking it through…the flip side of the obligatory propaganda, is an edit after leaving that cleans out the crap, replaced with frankness, which in contrast may not send a very nice message.

  23. Perhaps the OP could simply add the new position to the profile, but avoid making extensive changes. It does seem odd to omit that recent career step; it belongs on your resume eventually anyway, and shows that you’re currently employed.

  24. Re: “… including providing the office and company phone you promised.” This may be a little too confrontational, and might be better as, “… including providing the office and company phone that was promised.” A slight difference, but it is the difference between attacking the boss and allowing the boss to “save face” by attacking the system. But that said, this does seem much too controlling on the boss’s part, but also, a little too hesitant to buy in on the new employee’s part (not the text in LinkedIn part, just the general tone of not wanting to commit). I think there’s room for improvement on both sides.

  25. I think the boss is terrified that employees will leave and is doing whatever they can to hobble you from being able to find another job.

    This is all the more reason to decline – and to start looking for a better job!

  26. Nobody usually wants to hear about the red flags this woman has waived related to her lack of boundaries, knowledge of marketing, social media, leadership, establishing a culture that attracts talent, and in general recognizing the world does
    not revolve around her or her company. Unfortunately, if you don’t nip this one right away, then you are sending her a message that you are open game for that treatment again at anytime she wishes. I like Nick’s advice but I happen to be very sensitive to bullying as she is abusing her position of authority to bully you which will also cause long term stress if you don’t confront the issue head on. I would be very firm with her and let her know that your LinkedIn profile is yours and while she has a desire to be in part of it, that you will decide what is appropriate language, if any, should be included regardless of how much time you’ve worked at her company. However,
    Since she has brought up employment,
    and is requesting you make all of these changes, some which are inappropriate for a personal branding LinkedIn page, you may be willing to terminate the probation period and either move in to the corner office and get the cell phone that was promisesed or we could part ways.

  27. The writer should look at the LinkedIn profiles of others in the organization, both in his same department as well as other departments and staffs, to see if they all include the “branding” language that the boss is demanding. If they all include the same boiler-plate paragraphs promoting the company and/or the department, it would be a good idea to meet with some of those folks to learn how much pressure had been applied to them and during which time period. i.e. is this a new effort, and is it company-wide? Or, has it been going on for some time and characteristic of just that department? And if any are missing the “suggested” verbiage, ask if they’ve been similarly pressured.

    Clearly, the boss is insecure. But she may be following marching orders from higher up, confirming her own lack of any backbone.

    I’ve noticed the same company PR-type paragraphs as the opening statements for multiple individuals in several organizations, leading me to back away from applying for any jobs with those firms, or soliciting any contract work with them. I’m sure those individuals are competent, and might even be fun co-workers and business partners. But such “group-speak” sends a very negative message about those organizations.

  28. @Nick: Not just out of the box…

    “We want you to be dynamic, creating, challenging,thoughtful, etc…. unless it’s to our authority, in which case we expect you to be the servile peon we envision.”

    @Robert O’Brien:

    I’ve seen, and *sigh* worked for companies where it’s the Borg Collective. Either you are a dog, panting, salivating, and wagging your tail ferociously for your chance to put ANOTHER 20 hours of casual OT into a project, or you’re done.

    Let me be clear: Crisis OT is the price of being a white collar employee, and there’s only been once when I’ve refused to come in… the weekend after my son was born. (I will opine that this mandated weekend was actually a test to see if we all would – a power play – especially given as the Team Lead Engineer already had a solution! And I believe without proof that it was done especially in my case, being a new employee, to see if I’d put The Collective above my family.)

  29. I do not look upon Linkedin as a Social Media site.

    My Linkedin profile belongs only to me and the content reflects my professional knowledge, skills and experience.

    I have had two Linkedin profiles, I deleted the first Linkedin profile to stop getting swamped with unsolicited emails. This also cleared me from all Linkedin Groups. A few years ago, I started a second Linkedin profile as I was looking for work and was asked a few times for my Linkedin profile.

    I have two websites that reflect my abilities,
    http://richardtomkins.ca/
    http://neuron-tech.ca/

    As a web developer, I know that the majority of people landing on a webpage will visually scan the page in the shape of an F, and they’ll hang around for less than six seconds if nothing grabs their eye. As we are a visual species, text does not grab us or excite us so a Linkedin profile view does not do it. Company information on a Linkedin profile will never be seen in that six second scan. Landing pages have to included graphics and images to grab our attention like Dell and IBM or they must be plain and functional like Google or Trivago.

    Some landing pages are simply noise, such as Yahoo’s, I suppose that’s why they’re in the toilet.
    Adding dictated employer stuff to your Linkedin profile just adds so much more noise and detracts from your Linkedin landing page.

    So, for an employer to tell an employee that they need to make their Linkedin profile favourably support the company by including text about the company, the law of diminishing returns is already against this of being any benefit to them. If this is being requested because someone thinks this will push the company up in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking system, uh, uh, Google already thought of that, it’s not in the algorithm, it won’t work.

    Seriously. your Linkedin profile is your online professional resume, and your’s alone.

    I suggest you continue looking for employment, as this is likely an indication of more crap to come.

  30. As Nick pointed out very early in this thread, there is a growing conflation of the roles of partners and employees. Employees are frequently asked to bear burdens and responsibilities once reserved for partners and stakeholders, without being invited to partake in the benefits. As an owner, it might well be in OT’s interest to use LinkedIn as a mouthpiece for the company. As an employee, though, OT risks looking like a shill.

    Advertising through employees is nothing new, but OT’s boss does not offer a quid pro quo: no laptop or t-shirt with the company logo, no trip to a work-related conference. Instead, she wants OT to make available personal resources for her own use. It would be interesting to know whether this is also general company policy, or only the boss’s own.

    • I will not buy a company tee-shirt, but I might wear one if it was given to me. Hm… wait a minute, company uniforms, Apple stores …

  31. @Mark: I see this conflation of roles into the private domains of employees a part of the 24/7 access that companies now seem to demand of their people.

    E.g., I had a potential hiring manager sour on me when he emailed me at 8:30 PM with the terse “What’s your phone number?” I gave it to him, told him I was involved in putting the kids to bed, and looked forward to speaking with him the next day.

    After several WEEKS of trying to get the guy, I connected and learned that:

    1. He was leaving the office and wanted to talk with me THEN. (No information to that effect in his email.) Side note: If he’d said “Hey, I’ll be on a plane to Malaysia and could we talk at 2 AM your time?” SURE! I just need to KNOW it…)

    2. He implied, though did not say explicitly, that he was annoyed that my family life interfered with my ability to take his call whenever HE wanted to call me.

    Implicit in the above anecdote, and the original situation, is the – apparent – belief that they OWN you lock-stock-and-barrel.

  32. Run. Don’t walk. Run from this lady and her company. This is just a taste of what bad bosses behave like. My anwser would be no with very few other words and I would be planning my exit strategy. There are other companies. Believe me. This is out of order.

  33. Good point Dee. The 90 day probation period is a thing of the past. A draconian practice that has been done away with. More importantly to any employer still using a stated probation period is that it indicates a contractual obligation by the employer which flies in the face of at-will status. It assumes a contract of 90 days which can negate/contradict the at-will status. This employer is playing with fire that can burn them in court and, at the very least, has not progressed or stayed current with common practice.

  34. I think the boss was waaay out of line. For starters, his boss didn’t deliver HER promises (an office and a phone), he’s still in his probationary period, and the other points mentioned.

    I wonder what her LI profile looks like. Does she fail to understand where the business ends and she begins? If so, then that may be why she fails to understand boundaries. I also wonder about the LI profiles for the other employees in this company? Do theirs show the same lack of distinction between the business and the personal?

    I think the letter writer’s LI profile is his alone, regardless of for whom he works and his career and educational choices. It is entirely possible that this boss, if she hears “no” from him, will fire him for insubordination. Legally, that is her right, but I don’t think it is morally or ethically right. If I were him, I’d be looking for another job.

    The whole social media (LI, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) has changed the way employers see employees or future employees. A student told me that at her interview, HR “required” her to provide them with her password to ALL of her social media accounts. This was for a very low-level job, and when she hesitated, HR immediately ended the “interview” and threw her out with the “any candidate who fails to provide us with complete access to all of their social media accounts is immediately disqualified for any job here”. She was appalled, said that no one at the school (where I work), faculty or staff, warned her that employers require this. I told her that it is not “required”, and that some employers demand it doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. I think it goes back to the mentality David Hunt described–employers own you, every inch of you, expect you to reflect them even when you’re off the clock, and expect to you to be available around the clock.

  35. Wow Marybeth, that’s crazy of the HR person to essentially demand access to the interviewee’s social media.

    What would have been the equivalent prior to social media on the internet? Demanding the name and phone numbers of your friends as well as parents and pastor?

    • Tweety, that’s what I thought, and I did my best to reassure the student that there is no such “requirement”. She was well within her rights to refuse, and HR was well within their rights to terminate the interview. I asked her to think about it this way: would she WANT her employer to be able to read and see everything she posts on social media, including messages and comments to friends and family (not work-related)? Would she feel as free knowing that her employer is reading and monitoring her social media?

      Your last comment is on point, and shows how nutty HR has become. Before social media, employers didn’t demand information about your friends and family, as well as their phone numbers.

  36. I had the exact same situation. Owner expected us to add posts and share articles daily. All LinkedIn profiles had to be exactly the same within the company. I lasted a month and moved on.

Leave a Reply