LinkedIn is a job seeker’s best friend and there’s a lot you can do to optimize use of LinkedIn in your job search. One important action item is to add recommendations to your profile. Some job seekers feel hesitant to ask for these recommendations. If done right, they can greatly enhance your LinkedIn profile and strengthening your impression with recruiters and hiring managers.
A few basics:
- Target at least one write-up for each major achievement
- Recommendations from former bosses are most impressive, but peers and direct reports are also good
Don’t feel awkward asking for a recommendation. It’s part of today’s networking culture. Giving and receiving them is the norm. Some tips on the process:
- Pave the way by contacting a potential endorser in advance to let him or her know the request is coming. Mention an area of focus you would like him or her to touch on, or a part of your experience and expertise that no one has covered yet.
- Request within the LinkedIn site by going through “Profile -> Recommendations” and clicking on “Ask for recommendations” to specify a given accomplishment.
- Personalize your official request by suggesting a specific achievement you would like your endorser to write about.
- Occasionally a busy boss or trusted colleague will simply ask you to craft the bulk of the referral yourself and send it to them for editing. You may offer to do this, if you know the person well.
- Your endorser will send the recommendation back via LinkedIn for you to approve and publish or request edits.
- You cannot edit your own endorsements, but you can return it to the author with a request for a change in focus or even to correct a typo. You can also hit “archive” if you receive a recommendation you do not wish to share. Good groundwork up front will help you avoid a recommendation that is not useful.
- Once the recommendation is acceptable, hit publish and it will go on to your profile.
Even better than asking for a recommendation is offering one. Reach out to current and former colleagues, coworkers and managers directly through LinkedIn. Go to their profile and click on “Send a message -> Recommend”. When they publish your recommendation, LinkedIn will prompt them to write one for you. Respect your colleagues’ right to not write you a recommendation in return. Write theirs because you have a genuine desire to recommend them, not because you want a recommendation for yourself. There is nothing wrong with reciprocal recommendations. When people have a successful working relationship, it makes sense that each will want to sing the praises of the other. Keep in mind that recommendations you write for others become part of your profile, so make sure they are an accurate reflection of you.
Here are keys to a powerful recommendation:
- Specific. Gone are the days of vague generalizations about people’s great attitude and so forth. These days honing in on specific abilities and areas of expertise is most helpful.
- Success focused. The recommendation comes to life when a specific success is shared. That may be a project delivered on time, a crisis handled or a profitable quarter. Strong recommendations include tangible examples of success.
- Concise. Most recommendations are only a few paragraphs long at most. Many include the writer’s offer to share more information if asked.
- Credible. Endorsements should not contain gushing sentiments but rather be achievement-focused and professional. In other words, don’t bother to have your mom write one about what a great person you are.
- For more, read “Give the Gift of LinkedIn Recommendations”
Make it a point to request meaningful recommendations as a way of strengthening your profile. And set a goal of offering recommendations to others on a regular basis.