Monday, 1 October 2012

LinkedIn Recommendations - online endorsement pitfalls

LinkedIn has announced the launch of 'Endorsements' in the U.S, a way to recommend someone with just one click. This isn't live in the U.K yet so I can't trial it, but it got me thinking about the various pitfalls of online professional recommendations. Certain issues should be considered and a 1-click endorsement may not always be a good thing!

When used properly, LinkedIn recommendations are a powerful tool for advancing your career but if you don't use them with care they can give a negative impression about you, your contacts and the company you work for. It's helpful to think of them as a 'reference' from a  previous or current employer, but they're not exactly the same, so below are some things to think about.

Consider carefully who you ask. Offline, a great reference might come from someone well respected within the industry and their endorsement of you would add something extra to your application. This is no different on LinkedIn - do not just ask your friends to do it! Before requesting a recommendation ask yourself the following questions of the individual:

- Does he/she have an established LinkedIn account with lots of connections? (it may be assumed that a new account is fake)
- Is it obvious that you know the individual in a professional capacity? (avoid anyone with the same surname for example!)
- Is this person your junior? (If you want to highlight your management skills, you may ask for a reference from someone who has previously worked under you. Note that a reference from someone currently working under you may have the opposite effect, as it shows you have put your junior in an awkward situation!)
- Have you already recommended this individual? Reciprocal recommendations do not look genuine!

You should also consider the impression this gives within your current position:
- Most HR teams and management are aware that individuals updating their LinkedIn profiles may well be looking to move
- Colleagues may wonder why you want a recommendation from them and it may indicate you feel insecure in your position.
- Business development roles can be the exception to the rule - if the company employs you to find new business through LinkedIn they won't be suspicious if you are trying to improve the credentials on your profile!

Even so, a good recommendation from the right person at the right time may well mean you are considered for a role, so follow the guidelines and don't be afraid to get recommended. I'll blog more about 'Endorsements' when they become available to U.K users - watch this space! 

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