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LinkedIn Recommendations – Valuable or Waste of Time


Posted on 20th January, by Tom Williams in Web tools. 3 Comments

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tom-williams-85-percent-complete1My LinkedIn profile is only 85% complete and sadly, it’s going to stay that way for as long as I can foresee.  Why?  Because I don’t have any recommendations on LinkedIn.

Now before you start feeling sorry for me – like I’m some kind of friendless Schmuck who no ones likes, realize that this is largely self-inflicted.  You see, I don’t really WANT any recommendations on LinkedIn because honestly, I just don’t see the point.

why-complete-your-linkedin-profileNow LinkedIn claims that “Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn”.  In order to get “complete profile” status, you have to have, not one, not two, but  THREE recommendations!  So, I guess I’ll be missing out on all those “LinkedIn Opportunities”…whatever that means!  In MBA speak, I would define that as a completely benign and unmeasurable metric.

When I interview someone and they provide me with a list of “referrals” the first thing I do is resolve NOT to contact any of them.  These are the people who have been hand picked and coached by the prospective employee.  It’s worthless feedback – you might as well ask the prospective employee what they think of themselves!  Instead, I work the back channels and find people who know the person well, but who have not been coached.  Past work associates and/or clients are a much better source of real information.

Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours!

Scratch My Back & I'll Scratch Yours!

I believe the same is largely true about LinkedIn.  One person says “hey, you recommend me and I’ll recommend you back!”  How valuable is this information?  It’s crap.  It means nothing.  Now, I don’t know the circumstances of the situation above.  I’m sure they are both good guys.  Perhaps one received an unprompted recommendation and then reciprocated.  But does this boost the value?  I don’t think so.

Stuck at 85% for the rest of my life

So, I guess my LinkedIn profile will remain at 85% until I die.  But I’m cool with that.  If you want to know if I’m smart, if I do good work, if I can be trusted…then track down my friends, colleagues (past and present) and my clients.  Ask them, don’t ask me.

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3 Responses to “LinkedIn Recommendations – Valuable or Waste of Time”

  1. Jason Diehl says:

    My views of the LinkedIn Recommendations might have been drastically different just a few weeks ago, but now I am a big fan. I am a recruiter for Buckman Enochs Coss & Associates in Columbus. I place health care sales people into medical and pharma positions and I am constantly meeting new people.

    I utilized LinkedIn all day connecting with those I talk to and learning more about them. This is my first impression of people and most of the time I see their LinkedIn Profile before I even see a resume. That said I treat the recommendations like references. A few good comments go a long way in my book. Just the other day I saw a comment on a candidates profile that was from a well respected individual. After seeing that I knew she was going to be a great candidate for me. For me these recommendations are great and definitely have an effect on whether I want to contact a candidate and especially remember a candidate.

    In the end I think the you rub my back and I rub yours is pretty bogus, but when someone deserves a pat on the back I think the recommendations are great. I will also say it was a great day when my profile said 100% complete… it had been driving me nuts forever!

  2. randulo says:

    I agree 100% with Tom’s assessment that your references are hand-picked. However, I think Linkedin recommendations aren’t totally useless, either. First, who are they from? If I have a recommendation from [Someone bigtime in my field], that can’t be bad?

    Bottom line, I’d be a bit skeptical of someone who has a huge number of these unless they are a big fish and people do unsolicited recommendations hoping for reciprocity.

  3. I agree and disagree with you on this one.

    I think Jason makes some good points above about having the right people offering recommendations. I also think that people think twice about publicly attaching their thumbs-up about someone on a site like LinkedIn. The internet never forgets and people are connected. Don’t be a fool and recommend someone you fired or who you’ve told all your co-workers you despise. That’s just silly.

    Lastly, I only consider a rec useful if it gives specific reasons why they recommend. I don’t want to see anything like, “We were in the same department and I would love to work with him/her again.” Umm, really? That’s the best you could say about this person? You probably hated them or everyone else hated them.

    That being said, Tom, I will take your route when it comes to final references. If a candidate tells me to check their LinkedIn profile, I’ll say sure, but give me new names too. And I’ll check our mutual contacts and talk about them to the respected people we both know. I’m not a fool.

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