LinkedIn’s popularity in Hong Kong will likely increase over the next few years as employers, individuals and headhunters seek talent on the business networking website, but corporate and financial executives are sceptical about the accuracy of profiles.

A study published yesterday by recruitment firm Robert Half shows that a significant portion of local companies do not view LinkedIn’s information as entirely truthful. Of 150 chief financial officers and finance directors polled in Hong Kong, over two-thirds found information posted to be only occasionally reliable and trustworthy, and 7% said they never trust profiles.

Some 51% of those asked were concerned about the lack of a system to qualify information on the website, highlighting worries about individuals exaggerating skills or past experience.

And those working in asset management tend to agree. “LinkedIn is a useful if not necessarily flawless tool,” says one Hong Kong-based fund industry recruiter, describing the business networking site, which is used by some 600,000 professionals in Hong Kong, as “patchy”.

“Quite often people don’t update their profiles when they have left an organisation, which can often be misleading, particularly if they haven’t landed a new role," he tells AsianInvestor. "[And often] a lot of people don’t have profiles or use it heavily, which can give a skewed view on someone’s ‘connectedness'. It’s certainly heavily used by job hunters, but for people who are more settled into their role, it’s not so heavily used.”

On LinkedIn’s reliability, a Hong Kong-based human resources executive at a global investment manager says it is “hard to know what’s exaggerated or true” and that “some profiles may be more accurate than others”.

LinkedIn’s endorsement function is also “a bit of a joke", says the recruiter. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours – eg, various people have recommended me for things that I know nothing about – [which is] spurious.”

Still, more companies, particularly in the finance sector, will likely increasingly rely on LinkedIn to recruit in the future as more professionals and companies join the website globally, the HR executive says.

“Right now, LinkedIn is a good source to find candidates, but not the only one we use. It’s an added source,” she adds. “But I do see more people relying on LinkedIn for hiring becoming a trend in the future, [particularly] if we find good candidates [via the site].

"[And] I think more international companies might consider using LinkedIn, especially because we’re seeing more firms in the US and Europe using it.”

At the moment, LinkedIn is “favoured by more salespeople than investors, and certainly more so by Gen Y than senior executives”, the recruiter says, although there “are a fair few CEOs on there”.

Ultimately, prudence is key, he adds. “[LinkedIn] is a useful if not perfect reference resource, but with caveats on the quality of information."