True professionalism - Respect and trust

I was recently wandering around in the LinkedIn listings looking for someone’s email address and stumbled across the entry from an ex work colleague.  The entry had me rooted to my chair as the detail was claiming that this individual had been in a particular role for several years whereas I know that it had been occupied by someone else during that period.


LinkedIn is now generally agreed to be the business and work social media tool.  As such, profiles are increasingly being viewed as CVs and a potential avenue to future employment or business opportunities.  As with traditional CVs, however, we seem to have arrived at a buyer beware situation.


This issue of people bending the truth or even telling outright lies on their CVs is one which hits the headlines with regularity.   Recently the wife of the Speaker of the House was deemed to have enhanced her CV earlier in her career.  Although claiming that the truth was all in the way the wording was constructed and some misunderstandings had crept into the interpretation of the content, it always leaves the unanswered question of the intent behind the ‘careful’ wording of such documents.


If these actions are designed to intentionally mislead others then I would suggest that it calls into question that individual’s professionalism and leads to doubting whether they do, in reality, have any of the other attributes of professionalism.  Do they have integrity, are they trustworthy or do they work to an ethical code?

I would not presume to say that any of us are perfect and it is possible for any of us to use an occasional ‘little white lie’ to protect ourselves or our loved ones but this is not usually a deliberate intent to deceive and is often the work of a moment.


As a good friend pointed out recently, when it is so easy to Google someone to verify information of this type, why even attempt to adjust the truth?  It doesn’t seem worth the effort of trying to fudge it.  One’s work history is what it is.  Although job titles are supposed to be shorthand for understanding the skills package required to deliver the role they rarely are.  The most straightforward way is to explain or demonstrate your skillset.  Any perceived advantages in claiming roles or skills which are not actually yours to command are going to be negated by being found out as lacking – so why do it?


The additional problem in falsifying job information is that the employing organisation is implicated as well.  In order to protect themselves from this type of occurrence, should organisations institute regular sweeps of the social media listings to check that none of their employees is passing themselves off as something other than their contract states?  I hope we don’t get there but my suspicion is that it could happen.


In this instance, the wording is public, blatant and deliberate in its intent to mislead and could not be explained away as a ‘misunderstanding’.  Others may get away with more subtle creativity.  In either event it should concern us all.  All who are truly professional will find themselves torn by the unethical behaviours of others and, in fact, we are all damaged by them.  Most would assume that the individual will be found out eventually anyway but, for a split second, we weigh in the balance whether there is a need to assist this process.   Inevitably we don’t but perhaps we should in order to maintain our own self-respect and to ensure that our truly professional colleagues are safeguarded in the respect they earn from others.

Although Oscar Wilde said ‘The truth is never pure and rarely simple’, I think I prefer Mark Twain’s view - ‘Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said.’