Are LinkedIn Recommendations Reliable?

Posted March 7, 2016

LinkedIn allows users to solicit and receive written recommendations from their connections and endorsements of their skills, and while these testimonials can make job seekers look more attractive - hiring managers need to be wary of their validity or usefulness.

While recommendations shouldn't be taken as gospel, they can be a useful tool to hiring managers for looking to learn something about a candidate.

First, a word of warning: Many people will trade recommendations over LinkedIn and some people will even pay someone to write one for them. It is vital that you be on the lookout for fraudulent recommendations.

Look for connections and specifics

The recommendations that should carry the most weight are the ones coming from people who used to work together, as opposed to people who may be friends or family of the job candidate. Recommendations from former supervisors should carry the most credibility.

Former co-workers and supervisors tend to be specific in their praise, so these recommendations can give you a vivid picture of a person’s strengths.

LinkedIn also allows users to endorse their connections for various skills, like C++ programming, that they might have. If you are looking for someone with a particular skill - endorsements, taken with a grain of salt, can be useful.

Using recommendations as clues

While recommendations shouldn't be taken at face value, they can - with a bit of detective work - lead to a more detailed picture of a job candidate.

Occasionally recommendations can point hiring managers to a candidate's unique selling proposition, as recommendations are usually brief sound bites. Sometimes recommendations bolster a candidate's skills and experiences. Hiring managers should look to see if what the candidate claims to be good at matches with what their Connections are saying about them. Recommendations can also be used to make certain that nothing contradicts a candidate’s resume or something he or she said in an interview.

Furthermore, recommendations can confirm the 'personal brand' a candidate is trying to convey. They can be trusted when a candidate gets them from individuals with substantial integrity, and the background of the person giving the recommendation, such as their industry or level of success, can be a representation of the candidate.

Hiring managers can also scan a candidate's endorsements and get a feeling of those skills that a candidate could have left off of his profile, so it may help you ask more precise questions on someone's qualifications in an interview. While having skills or endorsements listed doesn't mean they are experienced in using these skills or that they even have them - listed skills and endorsements are starting points for an interview. If the person seems uncomfortable discussing skills listed in their LinkedIn profile, a smart hiring manager will see that as a red flag.

At Ambassador, we regularly conduct an exhaustive screening process of our job candidates at our 32 locations. If your organization is looking to outsource the talent acquisition process, contact one of the leading employment firms in the South today to get started!