LinkedIn Recommendations Or LinkedIn Lies?

linkedIn recommender

O.K, hands up if you look at recommendations on LinkedIn for anything other than leads on competitors profiles? despite what I constantly hear of the value of recommendations.  I view them as pretty worthless. If a profile has 100’s of them, I value them even less. The recommendation system has been much abused and carry little credibility.
I rarely if ever give recommendations that are requested.

I know LinkedIn encourage this practice with “recommend back” but it doesn’t work for me.

What LinkedIn recommendation requests should look likeencourage this practice, but I think it has devalued the whole process. There has been far too much giving away of recommendations to all of a users colleagues, swopping of recommendations on a you give me one and I give you one basis and the like. If you ask me for a recommendation, I almost certainly won't give you one. if you've given out recommendations to more than 5% of your connections, I will question your integrity in giving them.

I got so hacked off with being repeatedly asked by people I could hardly remember or who I had a relationship with based on an exchange of a few messages, that I wrote and returned the following recommendations over the last week: (Names have been changed to protect the guilty!)

I remember Dave well because as a manager he was uniquely unpopular with his staff. he was the only reason I left the company without a job to go to.

Unfortunately I am getting on in years and must have lost my memory because I have no recollection of working with Helen 17 years ago. She has good manners though, saying please in her request for this recommendation.

I worked closely with Tony in my HR capacity with my old company. We had plenty of opportunity to get to know each other well during a number of performance disciplinaries and whilst conducting anger management counselling.

Ken is the most creative person I know when it comes to expense returns, figure reporting and reasons for being absent.

I’m delighted to provide a recommendation for Sue as requested. my recommendation is that you don’t employ her.

Surprisingly, one of these was actually posted on a profile for a week, obviously not read by the recipient but automatically posted. How many times do you get asked to recommend people when there is really no basis for a recommendation, other than that you worked with them some years ago. I have heard of LinkedIn trainers setting homework to get 25 recommendations by the next class, with the suggestion to mail all their former colleagues, their current colleagues and other friends. I can’t buy in to that.

If you must ask people, ask those who you really believe are qualified to comment and would have a real reason to recommend you. If they recommend you, don’t recommend them back, it’s not “I will if you will!”
My policy for recommendations now is quite simple:

I won’t give requested recommendations. Please don’t ask me as refusal often offends. If I haven’t replied, please don’t chase me and make me tell you why.
I will give recommendations to people who I think deserve them, as well as giving them in recognition of good work completed. Giving recommendations is my way of giving a hat tip or just saying thanks. I know it is much appreciated.

Whats your view on recommendations? Do you value them and trust them? Do you give them too easily?

Keep being ambassadors, I’m off to hide from the LinkedIn coaches. that’s 2 days in a row I suspect I have caused a little upset.


12 comments on “LinkedIn Recommendations Or LinkedIn Lies?

  1. Oh this is SO spot on Bill! I am not a Linked In coach, but I do some training for a client that does outplacement coaching. I tell my “students” that they must always remember that their reputation is on the line – so they better be very careful who they give recommendations to (and who they get them from). I actually think they are relieved when I tell them they don’t have to accept every connection or make recommendations they don’t want to. IMHO it’s about quality vs. quantity!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill Boorman, William Tincup, Deborah Herman, Social Recruiting, Amos Tayts and others. Amos Tayts said: RT @BillBoorman: LinkedIn Recommendations Or LinkedIn Lies?: http://wp.me/pGdml-ma […]

  3. Hi Bill. Good post. I have given a couple of recommendations on request though not for a long time. These days I prefer to write them spontaneously for people I do good stuff with. The practice of swaps usually leads to pretty dull exchanges as far as I can see

  4. Hi Bill. I couldn’t agree more. Being, like you, something of a recruitment veteran, I treat them very warily. Any recruiter worth his or her salt would want to take up a reference personally to ask some role-specific questions, rather than accept the LI recommendation uncritically. The real beauty of LI in terms of referencing candidates is that with so many people, with a little effort you can pick your own referees, not simply ones supplied by the candidate.

    • I’m with you on that. You are almost certainly connected to somone who can give you a valid reference. I don’t look at recomendations anymore because mostly I don’t believe them.

  5. I don’t have this problem as much since I try to avoid being a LinkedIn whore. I don’t accept people I just met once or accept people as connection who I wouldn’t recommend to someone to begin with.

    As a recruiter I guess you need to go collect as many connections as possible so you can source but people who aren’t recruiters should take a step back, if you have to try and remember how you know a connection, remove them.

    People are always searchable in LinkedIn anyway so I don’t need to muddy up my relationships.

    • Brian,
      Not sure I agree with you there. With the changes at linked In, size of network is becoming increasingly important, and not just for recruiters. The more connections you have, the more connections you are open to.

  6. Bill, I agree.

    LinkedIn Recommendations are a very powerful tool, if used appropriately.

    When you find a profile with a bunch of worthless recommendations, that include nothing tangible or quanititative, all you really have is a bunch of noise.

    Accepting and Giving Recommendations is an act of building or destroying your personal brand and credibility.

    People who don’t get this probably don’t understand the significance of authority and credibility.

    If they don’t understand this, you have to wonder if they would be a credible employee, partner, or vendor… probably not.

    Jonathan Duarte
    Mastering LinkedIn.com

  7. LinkedIn recommendations has become a mutual admiration society – you know, You scratch mine, I’ll scratch yours.

    I even know some recruiters who search on relevance of number of recommendations – pretty lame.

  8. Never gave one, never had one & don’t care if I ever do.

    Recommendations along with references are rife with corruption. (scratch my back-I’ll scratch yours). As a recruiter, it is difficult enough to determine, if in an interview someone is capable of doing the job or if they’re lying. I don’t like spending time afterward looking at recommendations and trying to determine if they’re sincere or giving lip service to the process.

    Perhaps that’s too cynical. But I just read that good HR are cynical…so there…I just recommended myself.

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