LinkedIn is steadily becoming the portal for on-going career management. There is a new LinkedIn user signing up once every second. Due to its importance, LinkedIn has been featured here several times including:
- LinkedIn: “Who’s Viewed My Profile?” Settings…Put Yourself Out There!
- LinkedIn Etiquette: Using the Standard Invitation Request? Think Twice.
- Do Recruiters Really Use LinkedIn? Definitely.
This article focuses on a hotly debated topic in many circles: LinkedIn recommendations. Are they a complete charade – the output from networking pals who are doing favors for one and other? Or are they powerful, persuasive endorsements which have a positive impact for the receiver and the author?
If written properly, LinkedIn recommendations can play in integral role in your LinkedIn profile, your personal brand and ultimately in your career. After all, what is more powerful: you saying how terrific you are or someone else singing your virtues? Consider a book cover: are you more impressed with the author’s bio or the third party recommendations? The bottom line is that, in most cases, what others say about you has more impact than what you say about yourself.
LinkedIn recommendations are important, but how do you go about writing and receiving recommendations to enhance your LinkedIn profile and therefore your personal brand?
Writing a compelling LinkedIn recommendation
The quality of the recommendation goes a long way towards its perception as a compelling endorsement.
First and foremost, don’t write a recommendation if you don’t have personal knowledge of the person you are endorsing. This may be why LinkedIn recommendations have garnered a bad reputation. Writing a recommendation when you are unfamiliar with someone is not genuine.
As you formulate your recommendation, consider the following questions:
- What makes this person unique?
- What project did they work on which exceeded your expectations?
- Why do you like working/would want to work with this person?
- What hard skills and soft skills do they bring to the workplace?
You manage your recommendations by navigating from your LinkedIn home page to Profile>Recommendations. Your recommendation should start with when, how long and in what capacity you worked with the person.
In the body of the recommendation, after answering the questions above, outline a testimonial or story that captures your experience with the person. Really grab the reader’s attention. Be flattering, yet still completely truthful and authentic.
At the end of the recommendation, reiterate why you are endorsing the individual and state whether you would rehire the person again (if you hired them before), or if you enjoy/would enjoy working with them again (if they were a peer). Offer to the reader an opportunity to contact you if they have any questions about your endorsement.
Lastly, check spelling and grammar. There is nothing is more of a turn-off than typographical errors. Read the document from the bottom up. This helps to highlight any errors.
Receiving a LinkedIn recommendation
As the recipient of a recommendation, LinkedIn allows you to accept or reject recommendations. It is OK to send a recommendation back if there are factual or typographical errors. Also, if the recommendation lacks details, you can send it back with suggested additions. Likely, the author will be grateful that you have jogged his/her memory.
There are many opportunities to log an endorsement. People often overlook the fact that recommendations can be written not only for work colleagues, but also for students or volunteers. For example, did a fell student pull his/her weight during a capstone project? Has a volunteer on the Board of Directors made a significant contribution to the organization? Write a recommendation for them.
A sample recommendation
“It is an honor and privilege to write a recommendation for Connie Careers. Connie was part of my team in XYZ Corporation, and from the moment she joined, she immediately began contributing. From proactively getting out to meet each and every customer in her first 90 days on the job to connecting personally with every member of her dispersed team on a regular basis, Connie’s commitment to XYZ, her work, her clients and her team was evident.
Connie is a very results-focused, analytical and process-oriented person, who can easily balance switching views from the highly strategic to the last details of execution. Connie can be counted on to deliver, was always there for her teammates and management, and prides herself on providing the highest degree of integrity and collaboration. She is the utmost professional, and a valued team member and contributor. I would be delighted to work for her one day!”
How many recommendations are enough?
Everyone with some work experience should strive for at least ten recommendations. This gives you some critical mass to help build your brand and reputation. Are you a mid-career professional? Twenty or more recommendations is not out of the question. Some individuals have over one hundred!
What is the best way to get recommendations?
Many people use the recommendations home page to send out a blast of recommendation requests. Template requests may be perceived as selfish or as email spam. Instead, personalize your recommendation request and provide the potential author with reminders on when you worked together and what projects you shared.
One of the best ways to get more recommendations is to write recommendations. Similar to the secret of networking, the secret to getting recommendations is to write recommendations for others. In LinkedIn, when you do so, the recipient of your endorsement sees a pop-up window imploring them to return the favor.
While the intent of writing recommendations should not be for personal gain, there is no doubt that recruiters and hiring managers follow recommendations from profile to profile, via the hyperlink next to your recommendation. Recruiters believe, appropriately so, that great employees travel in similar circles and therefore they are quick to check out who writes well-thought out endorsements.
A word of caution
Some employers ban writing recommendation letters. If there is a ban at your company it may pertain only to recommendations written on company letterhead. Employers are becoming more and more concerned about litigation stemming from hiring decisions based on recommendations. If you have concerns about your company’s policy, check into it.
Hopefully, you have a newfound respect for LinkedIn recommendations and will incorporate them into your profile and write them for well-deserving colleagues.
Please leave a comment below and/or send me an email.
About the Author
Matthew Levy is a well-rounded HR professional and career coach with fifteen years of broad experience in both specialist (e.g., recruiting) and generalist (e.g., HR business partner) roles at blue-chip companies, including Merck, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.
Matt works full time as a Senior HR Generalist for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development. Prior to J&J, Matt relocated his family to Southern California to take a position with Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, where he led the talent acquisition function for Amgen’s commercial operations and corporate staff groups. Before Amgen, Matt spent several years at Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. There, Matt held a variety of positions in both recruiting and generalist capacities.
In addition to his full time work, Matt founded a career coaching practice, Corner Office Career Coaching. Matt works one-on-one with professionals and executives providing them with customized solutions to their career challenges. As a 20-year corporate HR professional with a large network who has also successfully conducted his own effective, cutting-edge job search, he is well qualified to help others reach their career goals.
Matt graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Business Management from Ithaca College. He is an actively engaged member of several professional organizations including the Philadelphia HR Planning Society where he is on the Board of Directors and the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executives Group. He also regularly gives presentations on HR issues as well as how to manage one’s career using social media.
Matt lives in Doylestown, PA with his wife, daughter and son. He jogs through the Bucks County countryside to stay fit.