Wednesday, July 8, 2009

LinkedIn is Under Attack!

The first attack I have on record came when Daniel Alexander, author of Outhouse General Counsel, posted The Do's and Don'ts of Online Employer-Employee Recommendations. Then the National Law Journal followed suit with Lawyers warn employers against giving glowing reviews on LinkedIn. Yesterday, Jon Hyman launched the latest salvo with Is LinkedIn a risk for employers?

When do we declare this an epidemic? More importantly, why are all of these lawyers attacking LinkedIn? Their logic is actually pretty sound: An employee's (read: plaintiff's) online recommendations from his/her manager can be viewed by the public (read: dastardly plaintiffs' attorneys) and it may conflict with the employee's official performance reviews (read: evidence of discrimination).

OK, I've done my employment-blawgitty duty and warned you about the evils of LinkedIn reviews from a lawyer's perspective. Now let me tell you what I think as a manager when I read a potential employee's online review from his/her current manager (Note: I was a project manager before I was an attorney):
  • I don't know the person who wrote this, why should I trust her?
  • If this employee's so great (or a "self-motivated proactive joy to work with" in flowery LinkedIn terms) then why is the manager recommending him to other employers?
  • He must be awful and she's just trying to pawn her problem employee off on me!
  • Or maybe she's recommending him so he sounds more attractive to potential customers... she's just making him sound great to drum up business!
  • Nah, I know, she's just being nice or avoiding conflict by writing him a recommendation in response to his request.
Then somewhere way way WAY back in the back of my mind is, "hey, maybe all of this obnoxiously over-selling language is an honest assessment." Naaaah!

Look, I love LinkedIn... I'm on LinkedIn! I'm just saying I find recommendations from current managers nearly worthless and they do present potential evidence problems so be careful.