Can Your Employer Hijack Your LinkedIn Profile?

Who Should Have Final Say Over What Your LinkedIn Profile Says?

If you’ve read this e-newsletter or worked with me, you know that personal branding is absolutely critical to being successful in your job search and in your career. One way that you can extend your personal brand and market yourself is through your LinkedIn profile. Having a dynamic profile that tells the reader what makes you unique gives the reader insight into what makes you different, what drives you and what you’ve accomplished. And it is a great tool to reinforce an already well-branded resume. Or it can stand alone as a tool to passively market yourself if you are not in the job search. LinkedIn is the number one place recruiters go to find new talent after all.

More and more, though, employers are asking employees to use their personal LinkedIn profiles as a vehicle to market the company rather than the employee leaving many asking who has final say over the content of your LinkedIn profile? Does the account holder own the profile and therefore the content or does your current employer own the profile and the content? If this becomes an issue for you, navigating this situation could be uncomfortable. Here are some ideas on how to maintain your LinkedIn profile autonomy.

Strike a Compromise

If your employer is asking you to insert their verbiage into your profile, I suggest negotiating a compromise so that you’re not giving up your personal brand in favor of your company’s brand.

Great places to compromise are on the background photo at the top of the profile and your headshot. Offer to use a background photo the company wants. If you currently don’t have a professional picture on your profile and the company wants you to use a professional headshot, why not? They’re paying.

Suggest to your employer that having the same boilerplate language on each employee’s profile does not reflect well on the company. Actually allowing their employees to brand themselves is a great way to demonstrate the diversity of talent, interests and strengths within their company.

The ideal place to compromise with your employer on content is in the Work Experience section. Insert their boilerplate language here, but make sure you still talk about your noteworthy accomplishments. Once you leave the company, you can remove their language and use the space to talk more about your experience.

The Summary and Headline Must Remain All Yours

Don’t compromise on your summary, though. If your company asks you to insert boilerplate marketing info into your summary, assert yourself and find another way to incorporate their branding language into your profile. The purpose of LinkedIn is to market you. Your summary is prime real estate on your profile. It should not be sacrificed. It should be optimized to tell the world your value and unique benefits you offer. It should never include boring, boilerplate language drawn up by the marketing department. Your headline should also be protected. Remember that is the first place a viewer is going to get a feel for the unique advantage you bring to the table. Your headline and activity provide your readers their first glance at who you are as a professional. Protect your headline from your employer as much as you can.

It is always a good idea to include your title in your headline. It could be considered a concession to your employer if you include your title in your headline, as well. But don’t forget to include your personal branding. E.g. “Lead Project Manager –> Establishing systems and methodologies that keep projects on time and on budget” Don’t let the 120 characters available in your headline go to waste.

Time is Running Out

If you have not branded yourself or your profile, yet, then get on it. Get it done before your employer asks you to write it using their language. If you have a well-written, personally branded profile, you will have an easier time making your case for a compromise.

Two Possible Exceptions

If your employer is paying for your LI premium account, you can use the same negotiating tips, but you may need to concede some language in the summary to your employer’s marketing. But try and re-write it so that it flows with your personally branded summary and demonstrates how you and the company are a great option for whoever is viewing the profile.

If your company pays to have your profile professionally written, they will have the ultimate say in what goes on the profile. I don’t recommend this because odds are your employment status may change. Having a profile branded to a particular company with their stamp all over it will not serve you well in the future. One of my clients paid half for his profile and the company paid the other half. His summary section includes well-worded marketing content about his employer as well as reinforcement of his personal brand.

In summary, you should brand your profile yourself before your employer; compromise if an employer wants to use to use their marketing language on your profile; fight hard to keep your summary section all about you; and find other ways to compromise on branding with your employer.

You’ll stand out from the crowd with a well-written, well-branded LinkedIn profile and you’ll attract the right people be they potential employers or clients by doing so. What are you waiting for?

The best is yet to come,