I give it no thought until the furnace or water heater need repair, or I have to retrieve the lawnmower to cut the grass.
Of all the items in my basement that I couldn’t move if I wanted to are the furnace and water heater…not that I’d want to. They’re better off down there.
So when I consider the LinkedIn profile and how you can move certain sections around at will, I think about one important section that is, as I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees, buried in the basement like my furnace and water heater.
Can you guess which one I’m talking about? I won’t keep you in suspense; it’s the Recommendations section.
LinkedIn has made a statement. Like my forgotten stuff and rarely used bicycles, recommendations have lost the value they once had. We encourage business people and job seekers to ask for recommendations, but given that they’ve are shunned by LinkedIn, why should we talk about them as if they’re a valuable piece of the profile?
What we talk about now are endorsements. But recommendations, to many, are more substantive than endorsements; they mean more. (Read about my love/hate relationship with endorsements here.)
Do you remember when recommendations were required to meet 100% completion or All Star status? No longer is that the case. That’s right, you must have at least five endorsements on your way to stardom.
1. Once considered one of the most important sections of the profile. Recommendations were once the rave of the LinkedIn profile; some considered them the profile’s best feature. Recruiters only had to read them to see your excellence. They could make a quick decision on whether to contact you or not.
But recommendations are more difficult to write than endorsements are to give. So eventually we’ve seen the number of recommendations decrease in favor of the all popular endorsements, which promote engagement and…laziness.
2. Say more about the recipient. This argument is so old that I’m tired of saying it, but I will. A recommendation is a testament, in the words of others, of your excellence. And we know the words of others say more about you than what you say about yourself. If written with thoughtfulness, a recommendation can be gold.
An article from FastCompany, Is this part of you LinkedIn profile hurting your job search?, describes the virtues of recommendations. But it also warns against accepting recommendations that are fluffy.
3. Say something about the writer. Someone who supervised you is demonstrating his authority and the values he holds in an employee. When asked to write a recommendation for you without any guidance, he is going to think about what he considered made you a great employee. If he values teamwork, communication skills, expertise, problem solving; these values will show in his writing.
I always advise my workshop attendees to take care when they write recommendations for others, which means produce well-written recommendations. The reason is obvious; visitors are going to read your writing and will make judgments on your content and how well you write.
4. They are testimonials for business owners. When LinkedIn designated recommendations to the basement, I heard a collective grown from business owners who relied not on supervisors or colleagues, but on the most important people, their customers. The reason for their disappointment was obvious; recommendations were great advertisement; they were testimonies of the greatness of their work.
One self-employed resume writer had approximately 70 recommendations which he proudly displayed after his Summary section. In fact, he made a point of mentioning his recommendations in the Summary. He knew the importance of recommendations to his business. But one day Poof they went, landing in the basement.
5. Show when you apply for a job through LinkedIn. I recently learned from a valued connection that when you use your LinkedIn profile to apply for a position advertised on LinkedIn’s Jobs feature; among the information they look at are the names of your recommendations. They don’t look at the number of your endorsements; perhaps a statement of how employers feel about the importance of endorsements.
It seem obvious that recommendations are valued by LinkedIn users and recruiters, so why are they designated to the basement? What can those of us do about the disrespect LinkedIn has shown recommendations?
We can write occasional updates expressing our concern or outrage. We can begin discussions in “official” LinkedIn groups. Finally, we can write long posts like this one, hoping that others will feel the outrage that I feel.
Photo: Flickr, deathbymower