What good are LinkedIn recommendations?

In this economy and job market, it pays to be proactive in keeping your professional profile up-to-date. On LinkedIn, this means seeking out recommendations from your supervisors, direct reports, and co-workers.

The article LinkedIn Recommendations: Five Ways to Make The Most of Them outlines who to ask for recommendations and which to accept. What it overlooks is the why of requesting recommendations. I'm not sure I see the value in doing so.

When presented to potential employers, recommendations can be evidence of a sterling employment history, admirable work ethics, and desirable talent. But how do interviewers get access to your recommendations? LinkedIn doesn't make this clear.

I have a public profile that anyone within or without my LinkedIn network can see. But the options of what to list on a public profile do not include the text of recommendations — just their quantity. If you log into LinkedIn and prove to be within my extended network, you can view my full profile, but everyone else is told that "Expanded profile views are available only to premium account holders", which costs a minimum of $24.95/month.

What if I am applying for a position at a company outside my network? Can they use LinkedIn to discover what my past and present co-workers think of me? If not, then the value of a recommendation seems extremely limited.

If I am missing a profile option or setting that renders this point moot, I'd be grateful to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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