“Recruitment is a human experience it cannot be squared into a box. Looking for an honest endorsement ‘¦ good or bad’¦You don’t have to say much. Just that I was nice to you one day or not”
I disagree. Is being ‘nice’ a sufficient basis for endorsing someone for a job at Linkedin or extending the resources of your social network to their benefit, in general, at the risk of your personal reputation.
I received a Linkedin request to endorse over the weekend by a recruiter who shall go unnamed. She was always consistent in forwarding my introduction requests. She replied to an email or three over the last two years. I assume, given her years experience in the industry and our fairly limited exchanges that she is in all likelihood an asset to her clients. That being said, ‘assuming’ what we will of acquaintances, the way some of our peers request or agree to post an endorsement, is not the ‘˜consumer reports’ worthy method of selecting a new car or baby crib. It takes qualifying by direct experience in relating with the individual just as if test driving and reviewing eopinion reviews on Amazon or Ebay. We take our purchases seriously, why not our hard earned personal brand?
What about J. Doe co-worker or that fellow you met at ERE and had a drink with and he was nice enough to pass the pretzel tray? The argument holds true in each case. It is unwise to offer a Linkedin endorsement or agree to post one for someone who merely passes the hallway, let alone an unknown quality over email. Perhaps a few snapshots of hiring priorities met exposed their dazzling work ethic, their expertise, or both. In certain cases it will suffice based upon your personal level of trust. Without a vantage point, however, such as partnering on a project(s), collaboration as opposed to coexistence with a co-worker, or mutual trusted colleagues that fosters a bond – you are merely referring an acquaintance. Call a spade a spade. It is up to you to create the relationship – if it is warranted.
Let’s agree to the substance of an endorsement, – in effect, it’s a letter of recommendation. Would you be as carefree about your professional recommendations as you would with a faceless request? Thought not. I have found that despite what you read in a Linkedin endorsement list, the most grandiose praise rings hollow after a few calls to those very same who lent their reputation on behalf of the person you are now about to refer as a favor. You diminish yourself, the hiring manager’s time, resources and regard for your referrals, and ‘Unknown Joe’ is now doomed to fail on unfulfilled high expectations. It is likewise important to emphasize the unforeseen side effect: the market value of your recommendations has plummeted and you have now undermined the chances of being able to leverage your network to benefit a truly valued colleague when the next opportunity avails itself.
You do not know if ‘Unknown Joe’ can source outside the mouth of Monster for candidates, let alone whether he/she can perform a Boolean string, nor do you know if his/her last contract was terminated because they were caught using the corporate database for personal contingency hires to make an extra dime, or even a sexual harasser no less. You simply do not know. You may even know his skill sets, but do you know his/her ethics? The saying holds true, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
The predicament has a familiar ring to me. I experienced a similar request I accepted and regretted and I can likewise personally attest that it is indeed awkward to decline a request, – even more awkward to take back a recommendation, but I’ve since learned what is at stake is far more compromising.
To proceed in uncharted waters will inevitably be at the expense of all parties. I learned the value of calling endorsers I trust and I ask them to further qualify their recommendation on behalf of an ‘˜Unknown Joe.’ I wouldn’t contradict myself and endorse someone simply due to confirmed references, – no. I would however consider providing leads to a fellow peer where prudent to do so ‘“ there is a difference. Pointing an e-finger at the job landscape is an asset by numbers and the value of leads provided. It’s a specific practice that does not extend to a personal call or email or luncheon to chat on someone’s behalf. If you feel obliged to do more, (esp. during a recession when our industry is hurting) than simply add the disclaimer, ‘I cannot speak from personal experience on Unknown Joe’s qualifications, however, if you find his skills relevant, feel free to contact him directly.
(1) Endorsements are powerful tools which, when used wisely and sparingly, benefit you recipient and have a positive effect on your personal brand. If your contract term as a recruiter is at an end or you’ve been downsized, who do you ask for an endorsement? The answer is simple: seek Linkedin endorsements from direct managers, fellow peers and co-workers with established professional relationships and industry innovators you trust and admire. In a word, seek endorsements from individuals you trust. Pass-it-forward.
(2) Don’t endorse anything or anyone ever unless you are willing to risk your reputation. Your personal brand is too valuable a commodity to treat lightly. You can support, review, discuss, and be a fan of, but do not endorse unless you are absolutely certain that what you are endorsing is of better quality that YOU. (SS)
(3) Do not seek endorsements by anyone that is not an improvement upon you in at least one area. Each and every person surrounding you should have at least ONE thing where they clearly excel over you. (SS)
(4) Endorse those who bring value to your colleagues, your profession, and yourself. (SS) By value, I am not referring to tangible reciprocation. By ‘˜value,’ I am referring to knowledge, and that is the fruit in which we sustain our careers and more importantly, can allow us to ‘˜pass-it-forward.’
(5) The number of endorsements earned, are not a showpiece for its own sake, treat it respectfully. It is not a bragging point for discussion. It is not a contest. To endorse a select few or to be endorsed by a select few is the same honorable result of a well job(s) well done. I will end with the follow-up email by J. Doe that acted as a catalyst for this post: ‘I blasted out the endorsement request to my LinkedIn direct contacts not realizing they all do not know me personally.’ This is a classic example of newcomers, or even veterans to the trade, who simply need to seek further understanding when it comes to new technology tools and to learn to tread carefully. All of us are susceptible to cautionary tales. If we define the significance behind the term ‘endorsement,’ good people are educated to avoid a needless awkward moment, both for the potential endorser and the requesting party.
PS: This post does not extend to connections and introductions ‘¦. Another day, another time.
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