This does not mean, however, that the site cannot be improved. I had an idea a couple of weeks back that I believe to be inevitable and it would not surprise me if LinkedIn is the first to do it.
I have given and received my fair share of recommendations on LinkedIn, but I know that they are pretty close to worthless. It is my belief that the recommendations are only really used by the people getting the recommendation, and not at all in the way that they seem to be intended - to allow a third person to gauge if they would like to work with or hire the person being recommended.
Think about it for a second. Do the recommendations actually have the supposed effects that they are intended for?
- Do recruiters or hiring managers or clients really look to see if a person has recommendations? Maybe, but I doubt it.
- Do recruiters or hiring managers or clients actually read recommendations? Maybe, but I highly doubt it.
- Do recruiters or hiring managers or clients take the recommendations into consideration when making a hiring decision? Maybe, but I completely doubt it.
Why would any of these effects take place when everyone knows that the person being recommended can filter all the recommendations anyway? Everyone already knows what your friends would say about you in an open forum if you had complete editorial control.
So if they don't have these effects what effects do they have? I'll throw a couple I find much more likely out there:
- The recommendation alerts people in the network of the person being recommended that they are a flight risk from their current job.
- The receiver of the recommendation is likely to post a recommendation for the giver of the recommendation as a gesture of gratitude to the giver.
- That's it. I'm stumped after that.
So I got to thinking....what would actually result in the desired end state of influencing a person's ability to get an opportunity? Then it hit me.
Create an open rating ecosystem for people just like movies on Rotten Tomatoes or products on Amazon.
Now before you think I'm completely insane, please hear me out.
In my scenario, Person A (let's call her Alice) could decide on her profile to set ratings and recommendations to 1 of 3 levels where Alice's profile calls out what model she has set.
- Authenticated - any person who is willing to have their identity linked to the rating can say whatever they want, rate the person as a professional on some sort of scale (as simple as 1 to 5 stars, or as complex as a multi-dimensional rating system, it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this topic) and Alice cannot edit or remove it.
- Connected - any person who fits the criteria in number 1 and is already connected to Alice can say whatever they want, rate the person as a professional on some sort of scale (as simple as 1 to 5 stars, or as complex as a multi-dimensional rating system, it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this topic) and Alice cannot edit or remove it.
- Filtered - Alice gets final say before anything hits her ratings page.
In this model, people would have the option to open themselves up to criticism from their peers and what would be so wrong about that?
Would flame wars happen? Maybe. But I really don't think so, as people would fear retaliation.
The worst I can see happening is that a couple of so-so reviews might get out and would be out-weighted by the community at large.
What I think would really happen is 2 things:
- Over time, people would be compelled to at least move to Connected, in that allowing yourself to be open to criticism would be perceived by others (e.g., hiring managers and recruiters) as a sign of a stronger professional, and because a person with a Filtered ratings page would be perceived as maybe having something to hide.
- People would be MUCH more selective about who they connected with because any actual connection could then say anything about them (this could be counter-balanced by having a contextual connection model which is a post for another day).
One additional thing that could also happen but to a smaller degree is that people who chose "Authenticated" would also be perceived differently in that they would either be really stupid, really brave or really good at not ruffling other people's feathers.
As long as there was a good way to visualize the ratings and reviews for people, I believe recruiters and hiring managers would come to depend upon them in the same way consumers depend on online ratings and reviews of products and services.
I think this model will be out there sooner rather than later. Weather it's on a professional site or a dating site, it's just a matter of time.
Filtered rating systems: Garbage
Open rating systems: Like them
"If something goes wrong at the plant, blame the guy who can't speak English" - Homer Simpson