Use Recommendations to Add Value to Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has more than 300 million active users, at least as of May 2014. (That’s more than Twitter.) One report found that 13% of these 300 million users log into the site at least one time per day. It’s safe to say, then, that this popular professional networking site should be taken seriously.
But how seriously should we be taking the recommendations feature?
If you have a LinkedIn profile, you have likely been asked to give a recommendation or asked for one yourself. So just how valuable are these recommendations on your profile? Well, that depends on how you go about them.
Recommendations vs. Endorsements
Before we explore the value of recommendations, we need to define the term as LinkedIn defines it. The site offers two ways for your connections to offer feedback on your qualification: recommendations or endorsements.
Recommendations are written by other LinkedIn members as a way to recognize or applaud a business partner or colleague.
Meanwhile, endorsements are less specific. These are more vague virtual thumbs-ups that your connections can give you to supposedly authenticate your experiences. Surely you have logged into LinkedIn and received popup notices asking you about a connection’s skills set, such as: “Does Bill Faeth know about financial management?”
Your response is probably something like, “Well, I know Bill owns his own business, so I guess he knows something about financial management. Sure, I’ll endorse him for that! What the heck?”
In my opinion, these endorsements don’t carry much weight (although LinkedIn bills them as great ways to build your personal brand). By contrast, recommendations are more reputable than endorsements because a connection actually has to write something about your professional qualifications. Including recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can add value, especially if you are job hunting.
How To Request LinkedIn Recommendations
To request a recommendation:
Hover over your profile photo in the top right corner of any LinkedIn page.
Choose “Privacy and Setting” from the drop-down menu.
Under the “Settings” header on the “Profile” tab, select “Manage Your Recommendations”.
Click the “Ask for Recommendations” tab at the top and follow the prompts.
Including recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can add value and serve as a testament to your skills and abilities. Many corporate recruiters turn to LinkedIn daily to find qualified candidates to fill open positions.
In fact, LinkedIn states that hiring managers prefer to work with someone who has been recommended. So, including recommendations can be a valuable asset. Although some studies have shown that not having a recommendation won’t hurt you, having the wrong kind of recommendation could hurt.
Creating Value with LinkedIn Recommendations
If you plan to include recommendations on your profile, you need to make sure that what your colleagues post about you enhances your virtual resume. If you want your recommendations to be meaningful and avoid the “Sure, why not?” scenario common with endorsements, you need to make sure the person writing your recommendation can actually speak to your skills, work ethic or experience.
Below are 5 best practices to employ when requesting LinkedIn recommendations:
Make Your Ask Personal
You are much more likely to get a prompt reply and a quality recommendation if you ask someone personally. LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to send an auto-generated email prompt requesting a recommendation. However, your response rate will increase if you rewrite the email and make a more personal request. Which leads me to my next point...
We all love to read glowing remarks about ourselves, such as “Susanne was such a pleasure to work with. Her smiling face and enthusiasm lit up our office every day. I would definitely recommend her to anyone who wants to hire her!” This makes us feel good, right? But, to a hiring manager, reviews of this nature add little value. You are much better off asking a colleague to recommend you for a specific skill set or qualification.
Request Specific Details
Did you work on a specific project to relaunch your company’s website? Ask a team member to recommend you on your attention to detail, your ability to meet deadlines, or your coding skills.
Did you step up and fill in a vacant position? Ask your then-supervisor to write about your ability to take on additional responsibilities while still completing your assigned tasks. Make sure he or she elaborates on your team-player attitude as well.
Ask a Teammate
Sure, it may look good on your profile to have recommendations from the presidents and CEOs of every company you’ve worked for. But unless you worked directly with those individuals, your recommendation may not mean much. When asking colleagues to write a recommendation for you, make sure to ask people who can actually speak to your experience. Typically, those who serve with you on a task force or work with you on a specific project have great insight into your skills and abilities. Plus, they can attest to what it is like to work with you, which is a critical factor for many recruiters and hiring managers.
Collect a Variety of Recommendations
You want to have several different recommendations that speak to your different abilities or experiences. Including feedback from former managers or from those whom you have managed will give readers of your profile a more comprehensive view of who you are as an employee, a manager and a person. Be careful not to ask for too many recommendations, though. You don’t want to have so many different opinions that the feedback becomes watered down.
Look Outside the Workplace
Recommendations don’t have to be limited to professional experiences, either. Those teammates and colleagues you work with in professional or civic organizations can make great references as well. And sometimes, these individuals can speak to your skills sets even better than your supervisor or cubemate. These types of recommendations, such as your ability to manage volunteers or lead a committee, can be especially valuable if you are looking to make a career change.
There you have it. Five ways to make LinkedIn recommendations work for you. Next time you log in to the site, consider sending a few recommendation requests to former or current coworkers. And make sure to return the favor! If someone asks you for a recommendation, have the courtesy to complete one in a timely and professional manner. Maybe that’s the start of another blog post...