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Should You Think Twice About Recommending People On LinkedIn?

Let’s face it…everyone loves to be validated. Whether it’s a retweet on Twitter, a Like on Facebook, or a recommendation on LinkedIn, we all feel good when someone acknowledges that what we offer is valuable or the work we have done was good. However, while I’m a big proponent of RTs and Likes, I recently have changed my thinking on recommendations for LinkedIn.

My change in attitude came after talking with a friend of mine about a recent situation he had experienced. I had worked with him previously and know his work as a Project Manager to be outstanding. Unfortunately, he’d worked in the telecom industry, which has been pretty hard hit and took an “early out” package from his employer in hopes of finding a more stable industry. This happened just before the economy went to hell in a hand-basket, and he has been unable to find full-time work for quite some time. Recently, he had a second interview with a company and he was really excited about the opportunity. He felt really strongly that he was a solid fit for the job and his extensive project management experience could really help advance the companies efforts to build a Project Management Organization (PMO).

The problem came in the interview itself. He was chatting with the hiring Manager and the Manager asked him about a review he had written for someone on LinkedIn. The review was positive and spoke to the great work ethic of the particular person. Unfortunately, the Person had worked for this particular company for a short period as a contractor and the experience had been a negative one. So….here sat my friend, in an awkward situation where he had recommended someone that didn’t work out.  He explained that his experiences were all positive and that he stood by the recommendation and was surprised that it hadn’t worked out with the person.

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Was the situation a deal-breaker for the interview? I hope not…but it probably didn’t help his chances, either.

The result of this situation has really made me think hard about my recommendation approach for LinkedIn. I have received a lot of request for recommendations over the years, but I haven’t really put a lot of time into it. I tend to recommend those that I really knew well and felt strongly about their performance. After hearing my friends’ story, I went back through my list of those that I have recommended and I’m pleased to say that I would recommend each of them again in a heartbeat.

But there are quite a few requests for recommendations still sitting in my Inbox that I’m really thinking hard about. I had intended on writing something about each person, but now I’m really reconsidering.

So…I’m curious to hear how others feel about LinkedIn recommendations and how they could impact you future job searches (positively or negatively). Should you write recommendations for everyone who requests one or just those you who you know really closely.

Drop in a comment and let me know what you think or share any similar experiences you have had with LinkedIn recommendations. I’ll be interested to hear thoughts on this subject.


Sean R. Nicholson

Friday 29th of April 2011

Thanks for the comment, Adam. I agree that online activities should mirror the common sense we use in the real world. Unfortunately, I think there a lot of folks who would rather chase numbers than real quality, which we see in people who chase numbers like Twitter followers and Facebook friends. As demonstrated by the story above, not giving serious thought to who you recommend on LI could have an impact on you career in the future.

Thanks, again, for the feedback!



Friday 29th of April 2011

Sounds like you need to rethink your approach to digital. Don't do things in digital you wouldn't do in the real workd. If a company calls you and asks you to rate the performance of a candidate you used to work with you would A) say you don't have enough experience working with him/her to provide a recommendation and pass the buck to someone who worked more closely with them or B) give a glowing recommendation because it's the truth.

If the experience was really bad you might say so, but typically people avoid openly trashing someone.

Apply the same rules to LinkedIn. You might also call this "common sense".

David Cho

Thursday 7th of April 2011

I'd say if you have to think about it twice then you shouldn't recommend them. That's a slight exaggeration but I really believe in being totally honest in your assessments which means only recommend those that you really know and liked their work. As you're friend found out you never know who'll run into out there. Especially now when everyone is doing searches on your name.

Sean R. Nicholson

Thursday 7th of April 2011

I agree with you, David. I think people often rush to give a review, hoping that it will earn them a review in return. The key is to make sure that the review that is provided is genuine and accurately reflects the persons' work. We have to keep on mind that the review is not only an assessment of the person, but a reflection on our ability to judge character. As with almost everything in social media...quality over quantity.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!