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Making the Most of LinkedIn Recommendations



11/11/2011 1:44:02 PM

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

Before you make a big purchase, do you read product reviews? If you’re like many people these days, you do—and that’s a good thing. You can invest your hard-earned money in a product or service that you’ve already ascertained will best suit your needs. You’ve minimized risk and maximized your chances for success. Today’s employers do this as well. Whether they’re hiring a freelancer for contract work or a professional for a permanent position, they want to know that they’re selecting the best. The recommendations published on your LinkedIn profile can influence them to select you.

Recommendations provide potential employers or clients with another perspective. Think of them as miniature advertising pitches. Good ones may be as short as three sentences or as long as a paragraph. Great ones provide insight into your skills and the quality of your services. The best ones are enthusiastic, specific and descriptive.

For maximum impact, focus on quality over quantity. If you’re lucky enough to have dozens of recommendations from LinkedIn contacts, that’s great. Post only the best. Some LinkedIn experts recommend you publish no more than ten recommendations on your profile at one time. You don’t want it to read like an infomercial or overwhelm someone who may be interested in learning more about you.

If you’re new to LinkedIn, you may not yet have any recommendations. It’s often good to give in order to get. If you write a killer recommendation for someone else, they’re likely to return the favor. However, don’t be afraid to request them either.

Don’t request recommendations from people who don’t really know about your professional skills or services. This includes random Facebook friends. It includes LinkedIn connections with which you’ve never actually done business. Family is also out, so no recommendations from your mother.

Past employers, supervisors, coworkers and direct reports are obvious recommendation sources. They can speak to your professional skills, work habits and business ethics. If you’ve been filling your time with freelance or contract work, you can ask past clients for recommendations as well. The caveat is anyone you wish to request a recommendation from must already be within your connections. If they are not, you’ll need to connect with them first.

If you use the LinkedIn system to request recommendations, you’ll make it easier on your connections. The request will be stored within their account. They can address it when they have the time. It’s also less likely to get lost in their email box.

When you make a recommendation request, suggest a couple of points the reviewer can cover. Remind them of the work you did together or specific success metrics they can mention. If you’re requesting recommendations from past employers, ask that they highlight your transferrable skills. These will serve you well in any industry or position. They may include skills such as “strong communicator,” “analytical problem-solver,” “self-directed,” “team player” and “responsible.”

When a potential employer calls you in for an interview, take your LinkedIn recommendations with you (just copy and paste them into a Word document). When the hiring manager asks you that inevitable question, “What would your past employer say about your performance?” you can respond with, “Actually, they said this…” and present your page of recommendations.

Recommendations are essential for a LinkedIn profile that will capture the attention of potential clients or employers. It’s well worth your time to make connections and request recommendations from the people who can best speak to your skills and abilities. Moreover, the benefits don’t have to stop there. Take the best parts from your recommendations and use them within your cover letter, your email signature and on your website as well.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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