If you’ve ever been in the position of assessing candidates for your employer (or as an employer), you know how impressed you are with those who offer stellar recommendations, whether on their personal marketing documents (resume, bio, etc.) or their LinkedIn profile.
Why are LinkedIn Recommendations So Important?
Executive recruiters and hiring professionals routinely source talent through LinkedIn. They’re attracted to candidates who have persuasive testimonials on their profiles. If you have no recommendations, or anemic ones, they may question your viability.
Good recommendations support your personal brand and ROI to the employers you’re targeting. The true measure of your brand to future employers is reflected in what those who know your work the best have to say about you – co-workers, peers, top management, team members, Boards of Directors, customers, etc.
Best Tip To Get the Best Recommendations
Write good recommendations to get good recommendations. Two bonuses when you use this strategy:
1. Your recommendations of others include a link to your profile. Every time someone views that person’s profile, they’re teased to click on your link. You can bet that plenty of people will hop over to see what you’re all about.
2. Recommendations that you write and the ones written for you show up in network updates for you and for the people you recommended, keeping your brand top of mind with both networks.
A few cautions:
Only ask for recommendations from people who will give you a good one. Don’t strive for quantity over quality.
Only give recommendations to people you can honestly praise. Don’t do it if you can’t really vouch for their work. If you’re making things up, or stretching the truth, to make them look good, eventually it will catch up with you and jeopardize your reputation.
Contrived recommendations – ones written just for the sake of reciprocating (“I’ll write one for you, if you write one for me.”) – will probably backfire. Recruiters and hiring professionals are good at sniffing these out, and they can harm you and tarnish your brand.
Don’t demand a reciprocal recommendation. They may not know enough about you to provide a strong (and honest) assessment. Or, for whatever reason, they may not be in a position to write one for you at this time.
What Are the Best LinkedIn Recommendations?
Strong recommendations validate what you say about yourself on your profile. They provide social proof for the claims you’ve made, and if they contain your relevant keywords, they can help boost your search ranking on LinkedIn, making you more visible and “find-able”.
All too often I see this kind of testimonial on LinkedIn:
“I worked with Steve for 10 years at [name of company]. I recommend him without reservation for any organization that needs a top-performing leader”.
Such a non-specific blurb isn’t likely to have much impact. It doesn’t provide useful information. Strive to write better ones for others, and receive better ones from others.
When Asking Others To Write You a Recommendation
Assuming you have clarity on what jobs, industry, and audience you’re targeting, and your LinkedIn profile reflects this, you should seek recommendations that will hit home with your target audience and align with the qualifications and qualities they’re seeking.
It’s okay to help people write your recommendation. Let them know what kinds of information you’re looking for. Asking them questions such as these should help:
1. What do you feel are my top strengths and skills that have most benefitted the company?
2. In what ways did I add value to the team and to the company?
3. What things did you know you could always rely on me to deliver?
4. In what ways did I help you do your job?
Or, you can make it super easy for them. Write a recommendation draft yourself. This gives them a foundation to work from and improve upon. Or you could provide them some of the good things you recall them saying about you, for them to work from.
More tips to get good recommendations:
Try to get at least one recommendation for each job you’ve listed in the Experience section of your profile. Try for more than one in the most recent jobs or, say, the most recent 7-10 years.
Reach out to ask for a recommendation via your personal email account, instead of via LinkedIn email, which many people ignore. This will give you the chance to let them know what kind of testimonial you’d like them to write.
Once they agree to write it, go to your LinkedIn profile and under “Recommendations”, click on “Ask for a recommendation” and complete the process.
You have the opportunity to accept their recommendation when it comes in, or suggest changes, before you actually post it to your profile.
Be sure to write them a heartfelt thank you for taking the time to write such a great recommendation.
When You Write a Recommendation for Someone
- Use the 4 questions above as prompts.
- Make it the well-written, vibrant accolade you’d want to receive.
- Take the same kind of care, being mindful of what specific information will best support them.
- Ask them what kinds of things to include.
- Lead with the best that person has to offer in an attention-grabbing first sentence.
Surprise Someone with a LinkedIn Recommendation
Several times in the past I’ve opened my email to find an unexpected LinkedIn recommendation from a colleague or client. Did that ever make my day!
The surprise factor and doing something nice for someone you admire without being asked make this a best practice to integrate into your networking activities.
More Information About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search
10 Steps to Executive Job Search Success
Personal Branding: How to Brand Your LinkedIn Summary Section
Social Proof: Where Online Presence Meets Personal Branding