Tracking Down Your Ghost on LinkedIn

by Barrett

What should you do if you run across a digital echo of your career online?  Don’t panic.  Just put on your digital ghost-busting outfit and get to work.  Sometimes the solution is easier than you think!

What should you do if you run across a digital echo of your career online? Don’t panic. Just put on your digital ghost-busting outfit and get to work. Sometimes the solution is easier than you think!

So I changed jobs recently.
And a friend called me up to congratulate me.
He’d seen my career update on LinkedIn.

He also wanted me to know that my LinkedIn profile was not up to date.

Quick tip: You don’t want a digital ghost of your last job representing you online.  How embarrassing is that?
(There’s one possible exception to that rule, but let’s assume you’re gainfully employed…)

Indeed, I had not found the time to update some of my data.
So I quickly went in and tidied things up.

Ghost Data
My friend reached out again a month later.

“Hey, your old work information is still listed in your LinkedIn contact info tab.”

What?!  I changed all that.”

“No, your old phone number and email are still showing up.”

“That’s not possible!!”

So I drove home with great intention, powered up my iMac and went directly to my contact info listed on LinkedIn.

My screen glowed confidently…
The data was current.

But to prove his point, my friend emailed me a screen shot of my profile from his computer.

The ghost of Barrett’s last job could not appear more real…
So where’s the problem?!

Could there be another Barrett Lester out there confusing LinkedIn?
While Googling myself in the past, I’ve found a couple…
(I believe one is a dentist, and another is a high school football player.)
But that wasn’t it.

Do I have a duplicate LinkedIn Account with my old work email?
(Though after doing a little research, I found that, in fact, some people have reported problems erasing old emails from their LinkedIn accounts.)

It’s like virtual ghosts ‘in the machine’ that just won’t let go.
Maybe it was time to find some cyber ghost busters…

Cornering the Specter
But I figured I should first do a little test myself…
So I powered up my wife’s computer…
…and simply looked myself up on LinkedIn.

The phantom data was entirely absent.

Now, it was time to attack the problem from a different perspective.
I left my ghost theory behind and began researching the functionality of LinkedIn’s contact info tab a little more closely.

And guess what I found…?

I realized the tab is an open data collector.
You can type in additional contact info for anyone you’re connected with.

The profile lives on in its augmented form, but only in your account.
It’s for your eyes only.
Nobody else can see it.

Ghosts aren’t Real
That’s it!
The ghost was finally exposed…
And it was my friend who created it!!
Plus my old contact data only lived in his computer!!!
(actually… in his LinkedIn account)

How ironic…

To prove my new findings, I went to my friend’s LinkedIn profile and simply typed another phone number into his contact info tab.
Then I took a screen shot of my work and emailed him the image of my experiment.

Problem solved.

Find Your Digital Echoes
In fact, there really never was a problem.

But my ghost hunt is a good reminder that you might be leaving behind digital echoes from your earlier career.

And LinkedIn probably isn’t the only place where your professional contact data lives.

So it’s always a good idea to do a little sweep and update those other websites where you’ve left behind your digital calling card…

Where Did You Go?
If you’re living in the present, like most of us…
(unless we’re all stuck in the Matrix)
…it’s always healthier if the digital representation of your career keeps up with your life.

And practically speaking, if one of your professional contacts simply wants to reach out, you don’t want to turn into a ghost!

Or do you?
I suppose that depends on who it is.

And if you’re frequently running that logic routine in your head, I would say you should begin accepting those LinkedIn invitations with greater scrutiny.
You should feel rock solid about your list of LinkedIn connections…

A conversation for another day…