Please Sir can I have some more… LinkedIn recommendations?

Last week a candidate told me that they were working with a recruiter who had offered them money – or vouchers – to write a LinkedIn recommendation for them. My initial thought was one of blind scepticism… I mean all recruiters are honest and ethical pillars of society right?

linkedinrecommendation1I told the candidate, (Beyonce – and yes that is his real name… ok maybe not, but pause for thought, and I bet you just started humming All the single ladies…), that they must have misunderstood… that a recruiter wouldn’t stoop so low… that Linked In recommendations are a valuable commodity and couldn’t be cheapened by black market trade… seems I was wrong…

The next morning Beyonce forwarded me an email from the recruiter in question… What follows is an extract from that email… if you want to continue to believe in the unwavering good in our industry – look away… now.

            Hi Beyonce,

I was hoping we could help each other out. Although I haven’t secured you a new role yet I would be really appreciative if you could write me a LinkedIn recommendation. Doesn’t need to be long, but if you could point out that I am the best recruiter in Sydney and that anyone looking to change roles should go directly to me that would be great!

If you can do that for me I will give you $50, or a voucher (iTunes, Myer, JB HiFi, Harvey Norman or your choise up to $50).

Let me know how you go.



Two things about the above email.

  1. The recruiter’s real name is not Xxxxxx
  2. Spelling is not their strong suit…


linkedinrecommendations3Anyway, I was appalled, but at the same time convinced that his was a unique occurrence and posted a quick comment on LinkedIn. Within an hour I had 24 comments, all condemning this brazen act… oddly enough though I received a very interesting – and even more disturbing message directing me to a website


For the poultry sum of $5 byron87 promises the following…

I will write you a unique Linkedin recommendation, or simply copy/paste the text you will give me. I have a CEO, entrepreneur/International type of profile. I have +4,000 direct contacts on LinkedIn. I am US-based. Your profile will rank higher in Linkedin search results, you’ll build credibility and look attractive for recruiters.

So where does this leave us, and should LinkedIn recommendations continue to be taken on face value?

The short answer is no, and my thoughts on it are pretty simple. Just like written references, you need to validate what you read… Gain your candidate’s approval to contact those who have provided the recommendation and drill down. Ask specific questions relevant to the role in question and ask straight out if the recommendation was solicited.

Until last week I was a great advocate for LinkedIn Recommendations, but right now I feel they are slightly tainted… dirty… and in some cases just pure fabrication…

I mean anyone can easily re-create history, exaggerate their success or just plain make things up – and all for a lousy 5 bucks…

Last week my 5 year old came up to me and said…

‘Dad… you know when you used to be a Rap Dancer… how many competitions did you win?’

And I didn’t even have to pay him for that one….

Craig Watson

PS. A few hours after I finished writing this post I was made aware of another very… very interesting and related article… if you have time read this


5 thoughts on “Please Sir can I have some more… LinkedIn recommendations?

  1. Nick Corcodilos on Reply

    Mr. Watson: Thank you for the link to Ask The Headhunter. A box of Moreton Bay Bugs (frozen) are on their way to you in consideration of your generous recommendation. In the meantime, if you can get Beyonce to give us a similar endorsement on LinkedIn, that would be worth a bottle of Tooheys.

  2. Kathie Kelly (@1KathieKelly) on Reply

    Thanks Craig on yet another interesting post!
    I guess it just lends weight to the fact that good recruiters don’t rely purely on LinkedIn. Just like good recruiters don’t rely purely on Seek.
    I know I’ll be using your post to remind my clients of why investing in a good recruiter always achieves better results than searching themselves and potentially being ‘taken in’….

  3. Pingback: Rice Consulting | Is LinkedIn Losing Its Way?

  4. DK on Reply

    Thanks Craig, This has raised so many questions in my mind that I had to pen a quick comment. Do you think that people are more likely to source individuals or businesses through linkedin (and recommendations/testimonials) or work on the basis of good old fashioned word of mouth and referrals? As you have highlighted, many recommendations are worthless, well not quite, they are apparently worth about $5. I would never personally give much weight to a linkedin recommendation or skills endorsement as they are often traded like for like and therefore defeats the purpose they were intended for! My final point is that if this so called recruiter referred to in the article actually spent half the effort on actually working hard and ethically they might even get a genuine recommendation, what a revelation!?!?!

  5. Megan Wilkes on Reply

    Shouldn’t we be taking this recommendation like you’d take any recommendation… with a solid reference check?

    I don’t think anyone should take a reference at face-value… just because it’s on the internet or sign on paper sadly, doesn’t make is more/less legit.

    Should it be standard practice to combat this to reference check one of their LinkedIn recommendations? Just a thought.

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