Frankly I’m a little flummoxed by LinkedIn’s insistence on using recommendations. As a freelance marketer, I know that whether a potential client/employer approaches me is dependent on the strength of my references. However, whenever any one of my references is contacted, he/she usually has the savvy to ask what for position I’m being considered. That’s necessary, because I’ve got my fingers in several pies, such as business development, social media, business analysis, etc. My references need to know context if they’re going to know how to recommend me properly. And that’s what’s missing from LinkedIn’s recommendations. Their recommendations are bland, one-size-fits-all endorsements. LinkedIn mentions that recommendations should be concrete and detailed, but most people don’t write them that way. Any person would rather have a five minute conversation with a recruiter or HR rep than write a recommendation. There are even more reasons to dislike LinkedIn’s Recommendation feature, but the lack of context and the lack of informative value are the strongest reasons, in my book.
The simplest, most effective solution is for LinkedIn should just add a small section called “My References”. And therein, a user can list their top 5 references, hyperlinked to those colleagues’ LinkedIn pages. That’s it.
There’s no need for written recommendations; no matter how well written the recommendation, a recruiter is still going to pick up a phone and call your references or email them. Follow-up is and always will be necessary. The reason this works is because it imposes a cost of inconvenience on the referring party, and in doing so, the recruiter learns how much your references are willing to go to bat for you. Writing an email detailing why you’re a great person to work with, taking the time to return a voicemail and discuss your abilities—these are things that are inconvenient for your references to do for you, and they should be. How else will a recruiter know what your value is?