Linked In Recommendations

One of my readers asked some great questions in response to my post about the value of Linked In, specifically relating to adding recommendations. Here is the excerpt containing his questions …

Of those supporters (particularly European-based), one common thread is the negative impression associated with recommendations and the fact that they may be too positively skewed. Either too favorable from a subordinate or peer. Lack of specificity or genuity from a superior, especially if no longer employed. How do you respond to such critics? Is this simply a difference between North American and European cultures / management styles?

Since I only work nationally, I can’t speak to a difference in American and European cultures. However, I would agree that any recommendations that are too broad or too vague are not helpful to a prospective candidate. Neither does “quantity” trump “quality.” A person who has 5 to 10 recommendations from several of his previous employers that speak specifically to his skills and abilities as they relate to measurable contributions will always outshine 100 recommendations that give mere “atta-boys.” 

Oftentimes these high numbers of generic recommendations come as a result of asking everyone with whom you connect for a recommendation. If they don’t know you, they certainly can’t recommend you. And if they can’t write a focused recommendation that adds value to your positioning, it’s not a beneficial recommendation.

While it may be possible for some people to get recommendations while still employed, the reality is that for “most” people, they are requested and received post-employment. Customer recommendations are always written after the job is completed. This is also true for most employees … don’t leave any burnt bridges and ask for a recommendation upon leaving. With targeted, specific, and value-oriented recommendations, any perceived negativity will be mitigated.