LinkedIn Recommendations For Your Job Hunt: Do They Help?

LinkedIn Recommendations For Your Job Hunt: Do They Help?

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

Recently, I was forwarded an article about how Executives could get a job through LinkedIn.  One of the suggestions was to solicit recommendations for the hiring manager to read.  The observation was made that in the normal job situation you only get to provide a few recommendations but now with LinkedIn you can give the hiring manager even more positive recommendations to read.  The declaration made me laugh out loud.  Published studies show that the average hiring manager only looks at a resume for 10-15 seconds.  It flies in the face of logic to think that the hiring manager who only takes seconds to read a candidate’s resume is going to take even one second to read recommendations on LinkedIn.   Professional Executive Recruiters and HR Directors are tasked with asking specific questions that relate to the job at hand when calling a reference.  A short recommendation on LinkedIn isn’t even in the same league as a real recommendation and cannot be compared.

Some people have taken to attaching their LinkedIn recommendations to their resume. Most Executive Recruiters and hiring managers I have spoken with say they take recommendations on LinkedIn with a grain of salt.  Recommendations that are from people who have actually worked with the person or used a person’s services are the closest to real recommendations.  The problem with LinkedIn recommendations is that many people solicit recommendations from people who know them from social situations and networking but cannot speak to the person’s work experience.  Another problem is the “you give me a recommendation” and “I will give you a recommendation” situation.  Typically, these exchanges are not conducive to real or to meaningful recommendations.

Getting recommendations are great if you stick to only getting and giving recommendations to people you have personally worked with in a meaningful capacity.  However, no amount of recommendations can erase a checkered history.  It is the job of the Professional Recruiter or HR Director to do a thorough background check.

Cost Cutting without Sacrificing Human Capital

In the current economy, corporations are asking Senior Management to take a closer look at the bottom line and cut costs.  This creates a koan for the CFO.  The dismal state of the economy has necessitated that corporations eliminate jobs for short term survival and economic health.  A global approach using cold hard numbers and math is the deciding factor on the percentage of jobs that have to be eliminated. 

A common concern among CFO’s is how do you keep from decimating and sacrificing the company’s human capital that will be needed when it is time to turn the company in a positive direction or to support growth when the economy rebounds.

Companies are taking the follow actions to reduce cost without sacrificing the human capital that they had already invested in developing.  The following were some of the steps being taken: 

1.) Reducing work week hours;

2.) Implementing partial month furloughs;

3.) Creating situations where employees can job share; and

4.) Reducing the pay of employees.   

These measures save money for the company while allowing the company to retain more of its human capital.  However, it creates a unique environment that management has to address.  Many employees just see these steps as a precursor to the next reduction in force.  Senior Management needs to clearly communicate their vision for the future of the company and how the employees are an integral part of this success.

Personal Bankruptcy and its effect on your ability to get a job

By Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent, Inc.

Nothing is more taboo to discuss for a Financial Executive than personal bankruptcy.  It seems to many that somehow it is more shameful than the CEO down the street who also filed for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, for many Americans and particularly financial executives personal bankruptcy has become a reality. As the news reports show, people across the board have been directly affected by brokerage firm closings, bank closings, company closings or company downsizing. Home foreclosures continued to rise throughout the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Economists are not predicting a quick recovery.

For anyone who has applied for a financial position recently you know that it has become common practice for firms to run a “routine” credit check. It is my understanding that Section 525 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code prohibits discrimination based solely on bankruptcy.  Typically, no one will come right out and say that they will not consider a candidate based on personal bankruptcy but will come up with numerous other excuses that are not prohibited by law.

Traditionally, companies are not keen on hiring a financial executive that has gone through personal bankruptcy. There is the perception that somehow the personal bankruptcy has a direct correlation to a persons’ financial acumen and that a company is at a higher risk of white collar crime by an employee that has filed for bankruptcy or that a bankruptcy directly correlates with the person’s ability to be an intelligent effective manager of the company’s assets . There are no statistics to bear out either of these erroneous beliefs.

As we have seen with the executives of Bear Stearns and Lehman and the alleged ponzi scheme orchestrated by Madoff, a good credit rating does not equal financial acumen or correlate with extreme honesty and effective management of the company’s assets.  In the current economy, corporations need to shift their prospective or miss out on possible exceptional candidates. Candidates need to be up front and honest about personal bankruptcies with a short explanation and then focus on what skills they bring to the table. Honesty goes a long way in overcoming obstacles. 

Are there Job Opportunities in a “Break the Buck” Wall Street Economy?

    Recruiters are never more popular than in a “Break the Buck” Wall Street Economy.  “Break the Buck” is a Wall Street Term that means that when you invest money in a conservative Money Market Fund which is like a bank CD that earns interest and somehow the dollar you invested is worth less than one dollar.  This type of economic situation puts the fear of unemployment into even the most secure of employees.

      Over the past couple of months more people have been “just checking in” and not just people who have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed.  Everyone seems to be on edge waiting for the next axe to fall.  Many who are currently employed are worried that they will be thrown ruthlessly and unexpectedly into the world as a job hunter.

      The following seems to be the most common current discussion.

Bad News: The economy is bad.  According to recent statistics approximately 130,000 people from Wall Street are unemployed and the layoffs are trickling down to all industries. The Department of Labor numbers continue to show record high unemployment.

Better News: In an economic downturn, the typical company takes knee jerk actions and fires large quantities of employees quickly without a true business plan other than to quickly cut overhead.  While this limits and decreases the number of permanent jobs, the number of contract jobs typically increases as companies decide that one person cannot do everything.  Yes.  There are still opportunities for employment. 

What are we seeing? In the Finance and Accounting Industry, we are seeing more contract opportunities.  Companies are not looking for generalists but employees that can come in and fix a specific problem or perform an essential function. 

What does this mean for me?  It sounds cliché but now is the time to keep up all professional certifications, software certifications and brush up on old skills, acquire new skills that are quantifiable and network.

By: Tracy Levine, Advantage Talent, Inc., CMO and President