Help, My LinkedIn was Hacked! True Story.

Well, readers my carefully curated LinkedIn Account was hacked. Months later, I'm still untangling the criminal hackers' tentacles and dealing with the fallout!  The hacker (s), removed my email access from my account so I was totally locked out. The hacker with the fake email "Bruce Lee"disguised themselves as me. They reconfigured my own email to spam my 2,000+ contacts! Even my husband received the spam request, which appeared to be from my own email.

All I could do was watch this with horror. The account I'd nurtured and grown for 10+ years was being dismantled, along with my reputation. As a career coach and lecturer in Higher Education, I had thousands of student/alumni contacts built over 10 years. The spammer targeted all of my lovely students and alumni! The LinkedIn help page only has tips for people who were hacked but still have access to their account and email? What?!?

Here are some unvarnished facts I've learned from this experience. I hope they help you.

You may think your social media accounts are yours, but they are not! You are allowed access, but do not have any rights to the years of content, contacts, recommendations etc  This is the sad truth.

For LinkedIn the only tech support is via email, no phone support line exists. You'll have to wait 4-5 days for each reply. Each reply will be from a different tech person and you have to explain your whole situation again.

If you are hacked, immediately request that LinkedIn freeze your account. It took 8-10 emails and several weeks for LinkedIn to respond and comply. But, they didn't tell me it was frozen. So, when I Googled my own account, now there was nothing online! This temporarily stopped the spammer, hacker or bot. Now, I was worried my entire profile was destroyed. Meanwhile, be prepared to loose all access to your own account. LinkedIn will say they are 'investigating' not sure if they did or not. Never received any updates on this, though I asked many times.

Meanwhile, I was trying to respond to dozens of emails from my contacts. They were confused and upset. They were receiving incessant, marketing emails (in very poor English) from my account. The irony is that I proofread resumes for a living! You'd think someone would say - this poor English doesn't sound like Sharon.

*I'm a career coach, not a sales person asking people to do survey! Yet, some of my contacts fell victim to the scammer who promised money for Mystery Dinners restaurant reviews. 3 of my contacts actually sent the hacker their personal information and filled in surveys! Then, they were paid with fake checks. The survey takers were told they'd receive 80% or close to $2,000. Of course, the the banks wouldn't cash these fraudulent checks. Then my 3 contacts called me to complain?!?

LinkedIn will ask you to prove you are the person who set up the account, before opening it back up to you.  LinkedIn requested a copy of my drivers license and passport, which I was NOT willing to provide. It's a shame that this level of security is not available at the front end, to protect your account in the 1st place.

This sounded so outrageous, I wasn't sure it wasn't the hacker tricking me. Noting their lack of coordination with multiple, technical support people, I had no idea who this sensitive information would go to. An alternative was to get my personal ID verified and notarized by a notary public. Cost, time, energy and more embarrassment explaining this hack to a stranger. I did this and sent it in 5 times, before LinkedIn acknowledged receipt. No action...

After a month of polite and patient emails, nothing was progressing. So, as a last resort I went to my Twitter Account and my large group of followers. I tweeted about the hack and used #fixit #LinkedIn @LinkedIn support. This got their attention, and they responded the same day. But, Twitter LinkedIn staff said that a hack was too big an issue for them to resolve. They couldn't help me. I had to return to the slow/non-existent email support.

Two weeks later, still no progress. I was scheduled to teach LinkedIn at the University of Georgia to a group of MBA students. I told LinkedIn that I still didn't have access to my own account. I also told them that I would share this story of the hack and callous indifference by LinkedIn support. At 1:00 am the day before my lecture, my account was re-opened. How miraculous! But, they re-opened it while still allowing the Hacker to be the primary email and contact. So, the hacker began spamming again. 1 month later, dozens more emails, from me to LinkedIn I finally got control of my own account.

But - now I'm exhausted. I'm trying to rebuild my social media brand and am not as innocent as I was. I truly hope this never happens to you!

your career manager - Sharon C.
Read more about a LinkedIn Hacker that was caught this past Fall, in Europe. He'd stolen 117 million passwords and logins from users and was trafficking this data.

Virtual Career Coaching: Get Help Today!

Career Coaching is a key component for success for many business professionals.  Reach your career potential! Drop me a line to schedule a session

1. What’s the difference between virtual coaching and face to face coaching?

 You'll find the best counselor regardless of geography
 • You can avoid driving and parking hassles.
 • You won't accidentally run into your boss  and it's anonymous and confidential.

 • You don't need time off of work. I offer evening and weekend session times.

2. What do I need? I am not technologically savvy...

Most of clients choose a phone. You may need a computer to take a career assessment or to work on a resume (with me) in real time.

3. How can I get started?

Contact me directly. Call 404 791 0848 or email As an ethical provider, if your needs are outside of my scope of my expertise, I will provide a referral.

4. How long will it take?

My services are short-term and solution focused (4-6 sessions are the average). However, this depends on the complexity of your career concerns. Each advising package is customized to address clients unique needs. (About and Services)

5. How effective is Virtual Coaching and Why?

Research has found that Virtual Counseling is more effective, than face to face counseling for many clients. Clients are more relaxed and are more open and honest in an anonymous, virtual setting.

6. What happens when my monthly package is complete?

I have an open door policy.  Many clients like to book an annual career tune up which includes several sessions, to ensure their career is progressing well. Some common reasons to return for more advising; a new promotion/assignment, a performance review, new interview, lay-off or for an annual. "career tune-up."

 7. How can I choose a “Virtual Coach or Counselor”? What should I ask?

Do your due diligence. A virtual professional should have all the same credentials as a traditional professional. Check out their online profile on the LinkedIn business site. 

• Is your counselor experienced and licensed? Who are their typical clients (age, gender, diversity, education, industry). 

•Is your counselor working with both job seekers and recruiters? If you career counselor is only working with job seekers, they may lose touch with employers'  needs 


Author: © 2009-present. All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen. Drop me a line to schedule a session

MBA Interview: Get analyzed by a Career Expert!

Mock Interview Feedback
Business Interview

  • Are you landing 1st interviews, but not 2nd interviews? 
  • Are you struggling to 'close' in your interviews? 
  • Would you like to get honest and thorough feedback from an interview expert?

Executive interview coaching is in demand both in my private practice and in my MBA Career Advising role at the University of Georgia. Since you put so much effort into landing an interview, it's essential that you ace it!

I can help demystify this process by conducting a mock interview with you. Since I work with business recruiters I can help you understand what they are looking for and provde expert feedback. 

Below is a sample summary of an interview evaluation with a client. He uploaded a video interview and I provided the critique below and several follow up coaching sessions. I'm happy to report that the interview coaching worked. He has 2 offers and is choosing his favorite as we speak!

Waiting for an Interview
 Sharon B. Cohen (*career manager)  

Interviewee: JS. Business Professional                                                        
Decision: Passed - Good!

Thank you for uploading your mock interview and submitting your interview answers. After reviewing your video responses, I would like to provide some feedback.

Camera Placement – The camera has a good view of your profile.The background is neutral and the color of your tie is complimentary to your eyes and complexion. 

Verbal Communication –    Energy and variety in tonal inflection is key to maintain the interviewers' interest.  Employers are seeking 'engagement' as a criteria. This often determines if they call candidates in for the 2nd round of interviews. 

Non-verbal - body language appears to be direct and sincere. Eye contact is good. 

Interview Questions
1. Take me through your resume and tell me how you made a difference at each experience. – Good  
This question is all about confidence. Highlight your career accomplishments and express what you gained from each experience.

2. How have these experiences prepared you to be a successful employee with my firm? –Good
When you specifically stated the skills and software you are proficient in, you highlighted attributes that set you apart from other applicants. You described both your education, work experience and your transferable skills. Tying in the transferable skills to the needs of the employer is key! 

3. Describe a challenging team project you worked on in which the group had difficulty accomplishing its objectives. – Needs Improvement, partial answer. In your response you stated the situation and task but forgot to mention the action and results. Use the STAR system of interview answers to cover the situation, task, action and result. This will provide a comprehensive and cohesive answer. 
I’d recommend using the STAR technique to explain your great accomplishments.  You did give some examples, but you kept forgetting to tie them into any potential new job or employer needs. IE: when explaining technical skills go beyond the list and emphasize what a bonus this would be when doing x,y,z tasks. STAR stories describe the situation, task, individual actions/contributions, and the results. 

4. Tell me about a busy time in your career and how you managed your time effectively. – 
Very good answer.  You demonstrated work/life balance and showed how you perform under pressure. Good examples. 

5. How do you stay current in your field? What resources do you use? – Excellent
This is one of my favorite questions. It helps me determine if the candidate is truly motivated and passionate about their field. Give specific examples of e-sites, LinkedIn groups, professional journals that you subscribe to and read. They may test you and ask you about a recent article you read and what it implies for the industry. Be fully prepared. 

6. Tell me about your technical skills. – Good
Knowledge and proficiency from your educational background is good, but what other skills do you possess outside of the classroom? Good job using business language and mentioning what specifically you can do in Excel.

7. What is your greatest weakness? – Ok, could be better
This is a trick question. It's less about the actual 'weakness' than about your insight about your self. Remember, that recruiters have heard it all. So, saying you're a perfectionist is not the way to go. Highlight a skill you are currently working on, to show insight into future growth and development. Also, tie this to the job description and reference the “responsibilities” and how you can meet them effectively.

8. What are your short & long-term career goals? – Good. In your answer, you gave specific goals that you strive to accomplish.Ensure that your answer is aligned with the job and company goals. 

9. What will you say to “close” the interview? – Needs Improvement
Don't say “I believe I am a qualified candidate for this position, but there are probably a lot of others too.” In a live interview you need a 5 step closing, Show your confidence, re-state your pitch. offer a handshake and your business card. Ask for their card, so you have a name/address to send the "thank you card." Also, inquire about their hiring timeline. 
To book your interview assessment today, email We can set up a time for an initial phone chat. 

your career manager, 

Sharon B. Cohen

 Author: © 2016 -present All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Counseling Psychology, CPRP. Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist. 

• Sharon B. Cohen on LinkedIn
• My Career Manager on Twitter
• Archive of articles on My Career Manager

MBA Job Search: Leverage your Network for Career Success!

  • Are you job-searching, but feeling stuck? 
  • What is the hardest part: resume writing, introducing yourself at events, finding job-leads, interviews etc? 

Job-search is hard work! Each of you will have aspects of job-search where you excel and others where you struggle. A skilled, career-coach can provide some clarity and help you get unstuck! In this week's post, we'll look at business networking and how to improve your referral rate. 

The Big 4 Social Media Sites (Part II): Digital Athens Conference

Sharon B. Cohen presenting Career Workshop
Here is Part II of this series. Check out my tips for Google+ and LinkedIn optimization for job seekers!

I've developed Social Media Audit Checklists for the Big 4 sites. I use these custom checklists in conversations with my career coaching clients. During individual sessions, I assist clients with building their personal brand and  increasing traffic on their websites.

As a result of my work, I was invited as a guest speaker at the "Digital Athens Technology Conference" in Athens GA. One of my audience members - Stephanie Schmidt summarized my workshop content very succinctly on her own blog.