Decoding Careers: the (mostly) fake world of online endorsements.

Have you ever wondered why everybody is an “A” player on professional social websites? And why is it that all people who asked for an endorsement they have all an awesome review? I have been wondering since the beginning of Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

Personally, I have chosen from the very beginning not to give any online reviews for anybody, including people that I know they are even “A+” professionals. It’s a choice and I will explain later why. For giving reviews to individuals, I leave my personal email or telephone number and HR or recruiters can email/call me for my professional opinion. A personal touch with an honest endorsement.

Why am I against online reviews? When professional networks started to gain popularity, I was realizing that endorsements were not reflecting the truth. In a specific example, many years ago a colleague in our company got laid off due to different reasons, but for sure his low performance was the main one. The person in question requested an online endorsement to a lot of people including me. I was so embarrassed as I was not expecting this invite: I thought my self that if I would write a review, he probably would never get a job. As I was struggling through this process to either fake the endorsement or make it neutral, the first reviews started to show up publically by other people. And I could not believe it: people who in a normal day of life would hate this person for his bad performance reviewed him as “the best of the best”. And a couple of more of these situations came through as well. People just not dare to expose themselves to the truth, so they fake the reviews (evil: or they just send bad people to the competition). Anyway, from that point, I decided not to give online reviews.

Well, not all online reviews are per se fake and there are “A” players out there, but it is just impossible that all people with endorsements on professional social sites are all that good. But there is another twist to this story: your name.

When you give an endorsement to a person, it is a time snapshot: at that moment of your and his/her career life, you are giving an (honest) review of the professional. But you don’t know what this person will do in the future: good or bad things, nobody knows, but remember, your name is out there with your so positive review about that person. That makes you as professional very unreliable too. Imagine a job interview when the hiring manager is realizing that the person is totally not a good candidate, and the manager reads your review and things: how is this possible?

Have you also wonder why would people ask for a public endorsement? This is not Instagram or Facebook where we asked to like a picture, this is your professional judgment on an individual. My theory is that excellent professionals do not need an online endorsement. “A” players are known through informal networks and if they lost their job “by accident”, they will be hired in no time. No need for public endorsement. People who ask for or they have tons of endorsements online are per definition suspect to me.

Hiring really good people is one of the most difficult tasks a manager has. And again you don’t want your name associated with a bad candidate: the law of association makes you also … bad.








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