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In my career I have always received great recommendation letters from management until now. I worked at a small international company in a high level tech position. The entire tech department was overseas while I worked in the US without a tech manager. My manager was on the business side. So I asked this manager and the CEO for a LinkedIn recommendation. The CEO gave me a good recommendation - which I expected based on positive feedback during my run at the company - but the manager's recommendation reads like he was drunk when he wrote it. Half of it is incoherent and it's very luke warm on selling my abilities. I was shocked since that's never happened before and the same manager prides himself in writing very persuasive letters to the company's customers and prospective customers.

So far I have simply chosen not to use the recommendation: LinkedIn lets you hide recommendations you don't approve. It's hidden currently.

I have not mentioned it to the manager. It seems it would be deeply embarrassing to him if he was drunk. Perhaps he intended to give a bad recommendation.

Should I discuss this with him or not?

I noticed this question after I posted. The answer that says the letter writer knows exactly what they did resonates with me. Could be that he didn't want to write a letter and intentionally sent an unusable one.

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    Is the recommendation completely gone from your profile? Or if not that, at least not visible to others? – BSMP Sep 11 '20 at 16:30
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    What exactly is the issue here? – Ben Barden Sep 11 '20 at 16:36
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    What would you do? - I would delete the recommendation and get on with my life. – joeqwerty Sep 11 '20 at 18:56
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    @BSMP LinkedIn lets you hide recommendations you don't approve. It's hidden currently. – HenryM Sep 11 '20 at 18:58
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    CEO > manager. Having that from that company won't raise any eyebrows or red flags, at all. – PoloHoleSet Sep 14 '20 at 17:32
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So far I have simply chosen not to use the recommendation and I have not mentioned it to the manager. What would you do?

At the end you actually decide if you use your recommendation letter or not, so simply not using it and going for the one of the CEO is ok.

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  • So there's no need to address the manager and this kind of thing is more common than I thought? – HenryM Sep 11 '20 at 19:01
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    There's no need to address the manager. You asked for a favor, they did a bad job, and that's the end. If the favor you had asked was somehow extremely important to your life then it might be worth trying again. You have a good recommendation from the CEO, so be happy with that and the knowledge that the manager can't be relied on in the future for a good reference letter. – aem Sep 13 '20 at 4:54
  • ...this kind of thing is more common than I thought? @HenryM You may be interested in the reference tag at Ask A Manager. (It includes letters about recommendations.) – BSMP Sep 14 '20 at 7:53
  • @aem Actually it was the manager who first raised the idea of me asking him for a recommendation and he volunteered but you're right about the manager not being reliable & my not needing his recommendation. – HenryM Sep 14 '20 at 13:34
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So far I have simply chosen not to use the recommendation: LinkedIn lets you hide recommendations you don't approve. It's hidden currently.

This is all you should do. I would also stop asking for LinkedIn recommendations. They carry no weight. Instead, make sure to get contact info for the CEO. Tell them you'd like to use them as a professional reference if that's ok.

Be sure to ask if the CEO can give you a "good reference" - given he wrote one there's a good chance he can, but a LinkedIn reference is not the same as a real letter of reference or recommendation. For one thing, you get to read it.

Some of the reasons I don't even bother reading LinkedIn references

You can read it: The recommendation writer has a very good reason to talk you up and leave out your less desirable traits - you can see it! They're not going to be as candid as they would be in a confidential recommendation.

You can hide unflattering recommendations: As you found out, you can hide ones you don't like (which you should do). This removes any sense of objectivity as you can hide anything you don't like.

Sock-puppet accounts: LinkedIn doesn't verify any position. You can make a sock-puppet account and write your own recommendation.

With real reference checkers, you have a person's name, company name, and contact info. With that, you can likely lookup admin assistants and at least verify they work there.

EDIT In response to comments

It doesn't matter how prestigious the recommender is, LinkedIn doesn't verify positions. Anyone can grab a picture online and claim to be Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or any other person with an online presence. The most "verification" LinkedIn offers is sending a code to your work email that you provide.

If LinkedIn did verified accounts like other social networks it might be useful, but as it is now, anyone can grab public photos and buy enough friends to seem legit.

Here is one person who did something similar and starting getting contacted by large companies due to his made up profile

https://www.howtogeek.com/416136/fake-linkedin-profiles-are-impossible-to-detect/#:~:text=LinkedIn%20Doesn't%20Verify%20Anything&text=We%20created%20a%20fake%20profile,proof%20or%20confirmation%20of%20anything.&text=You%20can%20say%20you%20work,yourself%20an%20impressive%20job%20title.

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  • I kind of doubt that you would ignore a linkedIn recommendation from the head/high ranking person at a fortune 500 company. But I get the gist of what you're saying. I think LinkedIn recommendations only became valuable in maybe the last 7-8 years. Was a time when it was a total joke/ignored by everyone. – HenryM Sep 14 '20 at 13:44
  • @HenryM - I would ignore a LinkedIn recommendation from a Fortune 500 company - because I would not believe it was from that individual. Anyone can look up executive level management at a big company and make a profile with their name and public photo. – sevensevens Sep 14 '20 at 15:08
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    To make a fake that fools regular LinkedIn users, you'd really have to create maybe 500 connections for that fake account also and some of those would have to also be high ranking managers at other companies. Then for those linked fake accounts you need to create additional links to them also. So it's not as likely as you think but okay. – HenryM Sep 14 '20 at 15:13
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First of all, a neutral recommendation is better than no recommendation at all. I have a few of these on my profile. You cannot expect everyone you work with to give you five star feedback. The feedback you get often tells you more about them, rather than about you.

Second, yes you can hide recommendations that you find subpar. This is especially important when you get 10-20 of them, because even good recommendations at the start of your career will pale in comparison to those other ones you get. People won't read a lot in your profile, so make sure every paragraph counts. It's better to have 5 outstanding reviews, than to have 10, where top 5 are average.

Third, it probably does not matter, these days the hiring decision is rarely made based on LinkedIn feedback. You will often need to go through some kind of IQ or cognitive assessment first, before they even bother looking. At FANG, you will need to pass a coding exercise. This covers 98% of their hiring criteria. Your resume/references is 1%, and your experience is another 1%.

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    "A neutral recommendation is better than no recommendation at all" I beg to differ. It probably depends on the job culture/location, but I never hired anyone based on recommendations. And if I ever see one, it better be good. If it's just meh, I'm going to be very suspicious. Nobody wants to hire average employees. You want good employees. – dim Sep 12 '20 at 20:07
  • @dim But most end up hiring average or below. Check this out: joelonsoftware.com/2005/01/27/news-58 – Neolisk Sep 12 '20 at 21:50
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I think you did the right thing just hiding it. If you want more info or that this guy rewrites a possibly nicer recommendation, I would suggest getting in touch with him explaining you're a bit surprised by this luke warm tone while you were under the impression he was satisfied with the work you did. Insist on the fact you're fine with criticism and that is not the issue as such, but you would like to know how you can improve.

That way either he will review his recommendation to make it more positive, either you'd get at least an explanation that can maybe be valuable in the future.

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