Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is generally seen as a reliable social media platform for professionals - to connect, to find jobs, you know the drill. In the words of LinkedIn’s head of trust and safety, Paul Rockwell himself, “LinkedIn is a place for real people to have real conversations about their careers. It's not a place for fake jobs.” So, when you’re a potential job seeker, and you happen to be qualified for a ‘certain’ job posting, you go on and apply – there are no two ways about that. You’re also open to sharing your private information with the employer (or the recruiting firm they hired), if need be.
So, when Michel Rijnders, an online recruiter from the Netherlands, posted a job opening at Google – the opening in question being that of the CEO himself – it’s obvious, millions of people applied for Sundar Pichai’s job. Only, Google isn’t looking for Pichai’s replacement just yet. But that’s not the point. The point is, Rijnders had nothing to with Google at the time of posting that job vacancy on LinkedIn. He still has nothing to do with Google. The LinkedIn job posting for Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s job was fake. Wait, what?
Rijnders has discovered a LinkedIn bug that allowed him to post an official looking job opening on (any) company’s official LinkedIn business page. Even though LinkedIn usually charges an amount for posting a job listing, Rijnders claims he has been able to list each job opening – including a job post for a new Chief Executive Officer for LinkedIn - for free. Rijnders is a premium LinkedIn subscriber.
Not only did these job openings figured on a company’s ‘Jobs’ section, these also appeared in LinkedIn’s job search tool, according to Rijnders. Moreover, Rijnders says he was also able to link his own (third-party) business website to the “Apply” button, potentially re-directing job seekers outside of LinkedIn’s domain.
While Rijnders did not intend on exploiting the LinkedIn bug for some nefarious means, he says, job-scraping websites like Jooble could be. Even though “these companies also seem to only pick smaller companies to do this with less risk of getting into trouble,” they were seemingly free to post on behalf of any company. What makes matters worse is that people have been reporting that the issue may have been there for years – many of them claim to have brought it up to LinkedIn before. And yet, LinkedIn did not acknowledge (or fix) the problem until Rijnders’s findings.
Here is what LinkedIn has to say about the issue – which has been fixed now:
“This issue was caused by a bug in our online jobs experience that allowed members to edit the company after a job had already been posted. The issue has now been resolved. Fraudulent job postings are a clear violation of our Terms of Service. When they are brought to our attention, we quickly move to take them down. While we do allow companies to post on behalf of other companies (such as in the case of recruiting firms), this is only permitted with the knowledge of both parties. Regarding free job postings, we have not historically had free job postings as part of the LinkedIn experience. However, we’re running a test that allows small and medium sized businesses to post a limited number of jobs for free. This member was a part of that test.”