You’re looking around and you’re impressed by someone’s LinkedIn profile content. It’s compelling and brands that person well. It speaks to you.
He or she has the same kind of qualifications you do. Their profile sounds so much like you.
You want your profile to be as good as that. But you’re not a very good writer.
You see no reason not to use some of that good writing in your own profile. Not the whole thing, just some of it. Somehow, because it’s right in front of you, online for all the world to see, you don’t think of it as stealing.
But it most certainly IS stealing.
I see this happening all the time.
One time, I received invitations to connect on LinkedIn from two women employed at the same company, in similar jobs.
Before accepting, I always check profiles to see if they’re appropriate connections for me.
I immediately noticed that these two women’s About sections and job descriptions at that company read word-for-word exactly the same.
They had either worked on the content together, or one stole it from the other. If they were in cahoots, they probably didn’t see anything wrong with doing it.
But, beyond the moral issue of plagiarism, swiping content and using it on your own LinkedIn profile, or anywhere online or off-line, is very serious.
Known across social media as duplicating or “scraping” content, violating copyrights can lead you into all kinds of moral and legal issues. This behavior can impact your personal brand, put your reputation in question, and cost you your current job and future jobs.
7 Reasons Why Scraping LinkedIn Profile Content is a BIG Mistake
1. Copyright infringement comes with expensive penalties.
In the United States, the government thinks stealing content is wrong, and makes violating copyright law a serious, punishable offense, with fines up to $150,000 for each infringement.
ANY content you’ve found online, even if it doesn’t carry a “© Copyright” claim, is automatically copyrighted to the author and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is international in scope and consistent with similar laws across the globe.
LinkedIn frowns upon copyright violations, too.
Conversely, if you see that someone has stolen content from your profile, LinkedIn has procedures in place for you to make a formal complaint, and they’ll deal with it.
Certainly, your code of ethics should dissuade you from plagiarizing. But, if that doesn’t stop you, do you really want to risk a law suit or having your LinkedIn profile taken down?
2. A copycat personal brand takes the “personal” out of the equation.
A “personal” brand is just that. It’s associated with a specific “person,” designed to resonate with their specific target employers, and crafted to showcase that person’s unique set of personal attributes, strengths, qualifications, and value proposition.
The content you’re stealing may sound like you, but it’s really not your brand story.
And if you swipe generic content that could apply to most people like you, you’ve got 2 more strikes against you:
- You’ve fallen prey to dull, anemic (and sometimes cliched) phrases that do nothing to differentiate or distinguish you.
- Your profile is probably boring anyone who reads it to tears.
You should focus on writing robust content that will generate chemistry for the kind of person you are, how you make things happen for employers, and what makes you a good fit for your target employers’ company culture.
3. It’s not your unique personal brand.
Branding is all about differentiating yourself. It’s not about how you’re the same as the others competing for the jobs you want. In job search you need to stand out . . . not get lost in a sea of sameness.
The achievements you steal from someone else couldn’t possibly be the same as yours. The situations, people involved, metrics, and facts are all different . . . even if only slightly.
Your own approach to solving the problems that led to your achievements provide evidence to support your brand promise. Don’t settle for generic achievement statements that sound good, but aren’t really authentic for you. Include specific examples of your contributions.
Help people assessing you understand what specifically elevates your skill sets and qualifications above the rest, and makes you the best-fit candidate for your target companies.
4. It may not be appropriate for your situation.
The well-written content that’s tantalizing you may not do the job your LinkedIn profile is meant to do – aligning what you have to offer with specific current needs of your target employers.
You MUST research those companies to determine the key functional areas that will be important to them. Pump your profile (especially the About and Experience sections) with your specific expertise, contributions, and value-add in those specific areas.
5. It may cause you to be shut out by identity confusion and conflicts.
That LinkedIn profile you borrowed from may belong to a job seeker who is targeting the same companies you are.
What do you suppose happens when the companies’ recruiters and hiring managers notice the same content for two candidates (or more, if others have stolen the content, too) they’re considering for the same job?
You’ll all look like thieves, and you’ll all get shut out. They won’t know who originated the content. Nobody wins.
6. It tarnishes your personal brand, and puts your reputation and integrity in question.
If hiring professionals find out that you’ve copied content, you could be jeopardizing your chances to land the jobs you want.
What does stealing say about your integrity? What kind of employee are you likely to be if you have no qualms about scraping copyrighted content? Even if you never heard of the DMCA, you should know that stealing is wrong.
This can also jeopardize your current job. If someone at your company notices the stolen content, you may be deemed a less-than-desirable employee, and get pink-slipped.
7. Bad SEO (search engine optimization) reduces impact and authority.
LinkedIn, Google, and other search engines will view your profile as “duplicate content” and may place it further down in search results, below the “earlier” version done by the originator. Search engines penalize duplicate content!
When people looking for candidates like you Google “your name”, search results may be so far down the list that people you need to find you online, won’t.
If You’ve Been the Victim of LinkedIn Profile Content Theft
Why not keep people from seeing your profile so they’re not tempted to copy it?
You can adjust your profile visibility to others, essentially turning off public visibility of whichever profile sections you select.
But that defeats one of the main benefits of LinkedIn for job search:
You want all kinds of people seeing all of your profile, and all the great content you’ve put there. Anyone can be a possible lead to a job opportunity. It doesn’t make sense to limit those possibilities.
By the way, this is not the same as making your profile “Private” which allows you to view other’s profiles (in Private Mode) without them being notified who you are.
What to do if someone has ripped off your profile content
LinkedIn has a reporting system for copyright infringement.
Yes, copying any content on LinkedIn without proper attribution is actually copyright infringement.
You’re an original. Reflect that in the brand-supporting content you create for your LinkedIn profile. Authentic branding doesn’t come from using someone else’s brand messaging. It comes from digging deep and differentiating yourself.
It’s okay (in fact, it’s good practice) to look at the profiles of your competitors for ideas and help with the right keywords, but don’t be tempted to copy and paste chunks of content into your own profile.
To learn how to develop your own brand content get my Job Search and Personal Branding Worksheets.
FAQs about Copying Someone’s LinkedIn Profile Content
Copying someone’s LinkedIn content is considered plagiarism and can lead to legal consequences, including fines of up to $150,000 per infringement. It’s also against LinkedIn’s policies, which could result in account termination.
While it might seem convenient, using copied content takes away from your unique personal brand. It’s essential to differentiate yourself in the job market and showcase your specific qualifications and achievements.
No, it’s not advisable. Borrowed content may not align with your target employers’ needs or your unique skill set. It can also lead to identity confusion when multiple candidates use the same content.
Using copied content can tarnish your personal brand and integrity, leading to potential job loss and jeopardizing your job search efforts. Additionally, it can negatively affect your search engine optimization (SEO) and profile visibility.
Search engines like Google and LinkedIn penalize duplicate content. If you use copied content, your profile may appear lower in search results, making it harder for potential employers to find you.
Yes, others can copy your content. If you discover that someone has copied your LinkedIn content, you can report copyright infringement through LinkedIn’s reporting system.
You can adjust your profile’s visibility settings, but it’s not recommended because it limits your job search opportunities. Keeping your profile public allows more people to see your content and potentially connect you with job opportunities.
You can look at competitors’ profiles for ideas and keyword inspiration, but always create original content that represents your unique brand. Authentic branding comes from showcasing your individual strengths and achievements.
To protect your content, avoid sharing confidential information and use LinkedIn’s reporting system if you suspect someone has copied your content without permission.
You can use my job search and personal branding worksheets to guide you in creating authentic and compelling content for your LinkedIn profile. These resources can help you differentiate yourself effectively.