Job Search

Many recruiters find LinkedIn invaluable. According to data collected in 2013, 89% of recruiters have used the professional network to fill a position. One of the things that recruiters look at on LinkedIn is the recommendations section of a prospective job candidate. Unlike the one-click skills endorsements on LinkedIn, a recommendation is a written statement of recommendation from a connection. From a recruiter’s point of view, this written statement could provide valuable insight on a job candidate’s abilities. However, not all recommendations are created equal.

Fake recommendations:

As the saying goes, you can’t trust everything you read on the internet and for this reason, most recruiters understand that they can’t trust all LinkedIn recommendations. They realize that some recommendations are written by “helpful” friends and family and are likely to do a little investigation into where the recommendation has come from and how legitimate it really is.

Most recruiters can spot a fake recommendation pretty easily. Sometimes they may ask a job candidate about the suspicious recommendations during the interview, while other times they may just pass over that candidate. So creating fakes really aren’t worth the time or effort at the end of the day.

Vague recommendations:

Some LinkedIn recommendations are great, however others can be a bit too vague. For example, “John was a pleasure to work with and got the job done.”

This is a very positive recommendation, but it sounds like thousands of other recommendations and in the end, it loses its impact. It doesn’t tell the recruiter much about the job candidate’s abilities except that he “got the job done”, which is generally the minimum expectation of an employee. Recommendations that highlight specific achievements or how the individual has helped the organisation/other people holds a lot more value and gives prospective employers an idea of what the candidate would potentially be able to do for them. 

Excellent recommendations:

What most recruiters look for on LinkedIn are unique and detailed recommendations. For example, recommendations that talk about a job candidate’s strengths, how the job candidate got along with other co-workers, how the job candidate overcame problems at work, etc. Recommendations with examples are even better. For example, “John boosted sales by 47% in one year” is much more powerful than “John increased sales.”

While the quality of LinkedIn recommendations matters, who they are from is equally important. Having five specific recommendations from actual clients are worth more than 20 general recommendations from acquaintances.

It’s unlikely that LinkedIn recommendations are replacing reference-checking any time soon. However, they do provide recruiters with a more holistic view of a job candidate. Therefore, you should always ask people you have worked with for recommendations. You can be strategic about it and suggest particular experiences or skills that you would like them to highlight. Ask them to quantify their recommendations by including specific examples because specific measurable examples are more attention getting than some bland and generic statements.

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About Sophie Deering

You can follow Sophie at @SophieDeering.

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