Most LinkedIn profiles fail to fully utilize one of the platform’s most valuable features: recommendations. How can you make the most of this awesome opportunity to have your contacts praising you on the Internet?
First, make sure you understand the difference between recommendations and endorsements.
- Free advertising for your job search.
- A boost to your credibility.
- Evidence that you’re worth hiring.
The claims you make about yourself in your LinkedIn profile are greeted with understandable skepticism by prospective employers. Why should they believe you? Recommendations from others carry more weight.
Here’s how to make use of this powerful self-marketing tool.
Ask for recommendations – from the right people. The most valuable recommendations will be from your direct supervisors, as well as senior executives and clients/customers. (Sometimes these may be hard to obtain or inappropriate to ask for, depending on your circumstances. Use good judgment.) Once you have some from these types of VIPs, you can also include some from current and past teammates and past direct reports.
Here’s how, straight from LinkedIn Help:
- Move your cursor over Profile at the top of your homepage and select Edit Profile.
- Scroll down to the Recommendations box and click the Edit icon on the right.
- Click Ask to be recommended, which appears on the right side of the page.
- Select a position from the “What do you want to be recommended for?” dropdown list.
- If a position or school isn’t listed, you can click the job or school to add it to your profile and the dropdown list.
- Select relevant connections in the “Who do you want to ask?” section, either by entering names of connections into the text field or clicking the address book icon to search for connections.
- In your address book’s Choose Connections section, check the boxes next to the names you want to add and then click Finished.
- When you request a recommendation from multiple people in one message, each recipient will receive a separate message.
- Enter your request in the Create your message section by using the message provided or personalizing your note.
- Click Send.
Give recommendations to members of your network. This looks good for them and for you. It also may prompt them to recommend you in return. After selecting “Recommendations” from the Profile menu, scroll down to the “Make a recommendation” section.
Coach your recommender. You want the blurb to be targeted to your current career goals, so suggest relevant accomplishments or skills you’d like them to focus on. Offer to draft something for them (and proofread it carefully, as they may use it verbatim). If you’re working with a career coach, they can assist with the writing.
Accept your received recommendations appreciatively, but examine them critically. Typos or grammar errors make both the recommender and you look bad. If necessary, make use of the option to “Request a new or revised recommendation” and send a corrected paragraph they can use. (Tip: Don’t put the revised paragraph in quotes; people will often paste the quotes in along with the text, which looks odd.)
Show your appreciation. Give a recommendation in return if appropriate, or send a thank-you note.
Use your recommendations elsewhere. Brief excerpts in your resume or cover letter can be quite powerful.
Collect a good number of recommendations. What’s a good number? I’ve heard everything from “several” to “10% of your total contacts,” and the optimal number is different for everyone. Use your own judgment. You can’t necessarily go by what your connections do; most people are making plenty of mistakes in this and many other aspects of LinkedIn!
Don’t rest on your laurels. If all your recommendations are from many years ago, considering obtaining some new ones.
Without recommendations, you’re expecting readers of your profile to “take your word for it” that you have the skills and experience you claim. Instead, build credibility by having others vouch for you!