An interchange on Twitter with @jowyang and @carissao got me thinking about LinkedIn recommendations. The question was this: do LinkedIn recommendations mean anything anymore? Seems to me that some do while others don’t. It depends on three people: the recommender, the recommendee, and the reviewer of the recommendation.
- Recommender: fairly or not, a recommendation from a higher-ranking person may mean more as their time is often scarcer. More importantly, does the recommendation show unique detail about the person in question? Is there a bit of thought behind it, or does it look like a stock template? If in doubt look at other recommendations written by the same person.
- Recommendee: A few high-quality recommendations beat a plethora of boilerplate ones. Some folks blast out a cattle call for recommendations to all their connections. Do that repeatedly and it’ll be evident that you value quantity over quality.
- Reviewer: I’ve had two hiring managers tell me in the past year that “LinkedIn recommendations are worthless.” In Geoffrey Moore terms, one was a laggard (no LI profile) and one was an early adopter (heavy user of social media). Both thought of it as a system that could be easily gamed. Most people in Moore’s model are early or late majority. In my experience both as a hiring manager and as a job seeker, those early & late majority folks may still value LinkedIn recommendations. They read them judiciously just as they’d consider the source in evaluating any other kind of reference.
What are your experiences? Do you take LinkedIn recommendations seriously, and how do you evaluate them? Would they be improved if, as @jowyang and I discussed, there were an element of scarcity – if you had to choose wisely, knowing that you could only recommend a limited number of people? Where else do you look for recommendations and insight on candidates and potential business partners?
Update: @jowyang blogged on the same topic after our interaction – you can read his thoughts here. In the spirit of this discussion let me say that I heartily recommend it!
Update #2: It’s a rare occasion when this blog intersects with my other, much snarkier, blog. So it’s a special day when this happens.
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