Frankly, I don’t think so. The reason is, no one would ask reviews from people whom they think don’t have good opinion on them. Similarly, no one is going to give a public opinion telling the other person “hae, you suck big time, there is no way I am going to make the same mistake again, which is to hire you (as a manager) or to work with you (as a colleague)”. That is the very reason, you always see only very positive reviews and never any negative review.
So, to confirm my hypothesis, here is what I did. I looked at the reviews of some people that I worked with in the past and about whom I thought are not as competent and also know people who thought they are not competent enough. The reviews provided about these people by those who thought are not competent enough ended up giving good, if not great, reviews. Similarly, there were cases where people who hardly interacted with others within the company gave good reviews to some people.
Anyway, no one asked me to give recommendations so far nor did I try to get a recommendation. I think it’s meaningless. One co-relation I did observe though is, when people know they are going to get sacked, they try to increase their networking activity and recommendation seeking activity. And with reasonably good recos under their belt, they are well equipped to start interviewing with companies I guess. I am not sure how much weight employers are giving to LinkedIn recommendations. But, I wouldn’t certainly bother about them if I were recruiting. Just like I don’t give credit to some of the programming certifications that people obtain.
LinkedIn recommendations can never match the honest reviews provided for MBA application, for example, since in those recommendations, there is a way to waive the right to look at the recommendation. However, that model doesn’t work for LinkedIn because, the MBA application is a closed system accessible only to a specific school and a few individuals. However, LinkedIn’s recommendation system is sort of public.
This brings an important question. How honestly can the collaborative Web 2.0 solutions open for the public evolve? Perhaps in some areas they work fine. Some areas, they may not.