LinkedIn has established itself as the top platform for bringing together job seekers and potential employers. With a user base of 562 million users and more than 260 million active monthly users, it has become the go-to place for recruiters and hiring manager to check out and vet potential candidates.

Actually, a survey conducted by Jobcast found more than 90% of organizations use the platform to find and hire talent.

With such a huge number of organizations relying on LinkedIn to fill open positions, most job seekers are aware that they cannot afford to ignore this popular professional networking site.

Most job seekers who use LinkedIn as part of their job search strategy already know the basics of using the platform, such as how to build a powerful LinkedIn profile, how to take a professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile, how to connect with recruiters on the platform, and so on.

However, I have noticed that there is one thing that most job seekers using the platform ignore – LinkedIn recommendations. LinkedIn recommendations can be the key to standing out from all other job seekers and landing the job of your dreams.

WHAT ARE LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATIONS AND WHY ARE THEY CRUCIAL?

If you usually look for job posts on LinkedIn, you might have noticed that some job posts are accompanied by a disclaimer that says “Applicants with recommendations are preferred.” What are these recommendations?

The recommendations are essentially short statements from other LinkedIn users speaking about your expertise, skills, work experience, personal qualities, and so on.

Since it describes something about you, a LinkedIn recommendation should be written by a LinkedIn user who knows you personally and has worked with you. You can think of recommendations as LinkedIn’s version of a letter of reference or a recommendation letter.

Why are LinkedIn recommendations so crucial for your job search? LinkedIn recommendations are based on a social and physiological phenomenon known as social proof.

Social proof is a phenomenon that influences people’s behavior and actions based on the actions of other people around them.

Imagine walking down the street and after going round a corner, you find everyone looking up at the sky. Your first instinct will be to look up at the sky as well, right? The same applies when you are looking for a restaurant to have your lunch.

If you look inside one restaurant and notice that it is empty, you automatically assume that that the food there is not good and continue walking down the street. Once you come to another restaurant that is crowded, you conclude that the food there is great and you go inside.

After all, there must be something that attracts all these people. They cannot all be wrong about the place.

This is the same principle on which LinkedIn recommendations are based. Hiring is a risk for recruiters. They don’t want to hire someone only to find that he is not the right fit for the company or that he cannot actually do what he claims to do.

Just like you did with the restaurants, they need something to convince them that one option is better than the other, without actually having to try out both options.

This is where LinkedIn recommendations come in. They provide credibility for you. If 10 people have worked with you and they all claim that you are a good person to work with and an expert in what you do, then they cannot all possibly be wrong. This gives the recruiter confidence in hiring you compared to hiring someone with no recommendations.

This is a clear indicator that LinkedIn recommendations can add value to your profile and increase your chances of getting hired. Unfortunately, most recommendations do not come naturally. If you wait for your connections to take the initiative to recommend you, there is a high chance you will end up with no recommendations.

If you want recommendations, you have to proactively seek them out. You should also make sure you are seeking out amazing recommendations that will actually improve your chances success, rather than recommendations that fill up your profile without adding any value.

So, how do you go about getting the right LinkedIn recommendations?

KEYS TO SCORING AMAZING LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATIONS

Below are the four key steps you need to follow to score amazing LinkedIn recommendations that add value to your profile and increase your likelihood of being invited to job interviews and getting hired.

Ask For Recommendations From The Right People

While recommendations are good for your LinkedIn profile, you should not request for recommendations from everyone. When it comes to recommendations, most people actually think that the best recommendations are from connections with the most impressive titles.

Sure, having recommendations from the CEOs and presidents of the companies you have worked for may look good on your profile, but these recommendations might not add any value to your job search.

If you did not work or interact directly with these top level executives, their recommendations are going to sound a bit more general compared to recommendations from someone who knows specific details about you and your work experience or qualifications.

When choosing people to ask for recommendations, you should zero in on people who not only look good on your profile, but people who can actually describe the specific thing that makes you a great choice for the company or position you are targeting.

When choosing the people to ask for recommendations, there are some things you need to keep in mind. You should choose a person that:

  • Has worked closely with you for a period of about six months or more.
  • Has seen your skills and expertise in action.
  • Has benefited in one way or another from your skills and expertise.
  • Works in the same industry as yourself or in the same industry as the audience you are targeting with the recommendations (executives, recruiters, clients, and so on).
  • Holds you in positive regard (you don’t want a recommendation from someone who loathes you or your work).
  • Has strong writing skills (can properly highlight your strengths and skills).
  • Is your connection on LinkedIn. LinkedIn does not allow recommendations from people you are not connected to.
  • Has no problem with recommending you.

Going by these guidelines, the best people to ask for recommendations are colleagues or former colleagues, managers/supervisors you worked directly under or clients you worked for directly.

Your colleagues and team mates are a particularly good option because they have seen you at work for some time and can actually speak knowledgeably about your experience. They also understand what is like working with you, which is something recruiters and hiring managers might be particularly interested in.

It is also not wise to seek all your recommendations from people you have worked with in the same job or organization. Ideally, you want recommendations from a variety of people (teammates, bosses, clients, employees who have worked under you, and so on).

Such varied recommendations highlight different skills abilities and experiences, compared to having all your recommendations from people who have all worked with you in the same capacity.

Varied recommendations give a potential recruiter a picture of who you are as an employee, a teammate, a manager and as a person. Don’t go for too many recommendations, though.

Having so many different opinions about you can water down the message from the recommendations. A good number to aim for is about 7 to 10 recommendations.

Know How To Request For Recommendations

Most people don’t even know whether LinkedIn allows people to request for recommendations. The “Request a Recommendation” screen is not very obvious, which is part of the reason many job seekers do not bother with recommendations. There are two ways to get to the “Request a Recommendation” screen.

Method 1

Step 1: Go to the search bar and search for the person you want to send a recommendation request. Click on the name of the person to open his or her profile.

Step 2: On the person’s profile, click on the “More…” button right below their profile picture and next to the “Message” button. This will bring up a drop-down menu.

Step 3: On the drop-down menu, click on “Request a Recommendation.” This will bring up a pop-up menu.

Step 4: On the pop-up menu, you will be prompted to select your relationship with the person and your position at the time the two of you worked together.

Step 5: You will be then be given a message box where you can write your message and send it to the person.

Method 2

Step 1: Click on your avatar on the top navigation bar to open your profile.

Step 2: On your profile page, click on the “Add Profile Section” button. This will bring up a drop-down Step 3: On the drop-down menu, click on “Additional Information” section to expand it. After expanding this section, you will see the option to “Request a Recommendation.”

Step 3: Once you click on the “Request a Recommendation” button, a pop-up menu will come up prompting you to enter the name of the person you want to request for a recommendation.

Step 4: Once you enter a few letters, LinkedIn will bring up the names of your connections whose names start with these letters. Click on the name of the person you want to request for a recommendation once it shows up.

Step 5: From there, another pop-up menu will come up prompting you to select your relationship with the person and your position at the time the two of you worked together.

Step 6: You will be then be given a message box where you can write your message and send it to the person.

Personalize Your Connection Request

Once you get to the message box, you will notice that LinkedIn provides a default message to request for a recommendation. The default message is

Hello {name}, will you write me a recommendation?

Don’t use this auto-generated message. Using the default message will make you seem like a spammer who is trying to get recommendations from wherever he can, and your chances of getting someone to actually write you a recommendation will be greatly reduced.

What you need to do here is to personalize the message to suit the person you are sending the request to. You want them to feel special because you chose them as the best person to give you a recommendation.

To write a great, personalized recommendation request that will result in an awesome recommendation, there are some things you need to keep in mind. These include:

What you would like the recommendation to communicate: Different recommendations serve different purposes. A recommendation that helps you find a new job might not work if you are trying to attract new clients. Therefore, you need to decide what you want to accomplish with the recommendation, and the target audience for the recommendation.

This will influence who you ask for the recommendation and how they will write the recommendation.

For instance, if your aim is to attract new clients, you might request a former client to write you a recommendation detailing how you helped them achieve their objectives.

On the other hand, if you are trying to get in touch with a recruiter or hiring manager in regards to an open position, you should go for a recommendation from a colleague or a manager highlighting your exemplary performance at work.

Explain why you selected them: Once you start writing the message to accompany your request, you should explain why you selected them. Remember how we said that you need to make them feel special, that this request is not something you are sending to everybody?

This is where you do that.

Below is an example of how you can explain why you selected them:

“I’m really proud of the results we achieved on the Coca Cola marketing campaign and would like to highlight the results to a potential employer. Could you write a recommendation for me based on the work we did together on that project?”

Such a message shows them that you value them for the experiences both of you have had together. The message would not make sense to any other person since they did not work with you on the Coca Cola project.

Request specific details: If you simply ask someone to write you a recommendation without being specific on what exactly you want them to say, there is a high chance they will simply write a general recommendation that won’t help you in any way. Consider the following recommendations:

“David is a really nice person. It was really great working with him.”

“Sam is a motivated and very hard working guy.”

“Prudence is an awesome person. Everyone in the office loves her cheerfulness.”

While such recommendations may sound nice, they do not share any information that would make a prospective employer hire you. Anyone can say that they are nice or hardworking or motivated on their resume.

They want to know what specific skills (especially soft skills) you bring to the table. If your colleagues think you are hardworking, they want to know why the colleagues think so.

To avoid having the person you are reaching out to write such a general recommendation, you should be specific on the details you want them to include in the recommendation.

For instance, if you worked on a specific project that you want your prospective employer to know about, you can ask a colleague to talk about the project, highlighting specific details about your contribution to the project, such as your amazing design skills, your ability to work with strict deadlines, or your attention to details.

If you want to highlight your leadership skills, you might ask your supervisor to write about that time your team leader was pulled from the project and you stepped up to fill his position, while highlighting how you managed to keep your team motivated and drive them to achieve results.

Give them a length guideline: When asking someone to write you a recommendation, it is a wise move to give them a length guideline. This helps in two ways. First, it makes it easy for them to estimate how long your request will take them. Second, it makes it easier for them to write a great recommendation without worrying whether they are writing too little or too much.

Word your request politely: When you ask someone to right you a LinkedIn recommendation, you are essentially asking them for a favor. Therefore, you need to make it clear to them that it is not something they are obligated to do. To make it clear that you recognize that you are requesting for a favor, consider using phrases like “when you have the time,” or “if it’s not too much trouble.” Using such phrases shows that you are being respectful of their time. It also does not give them a lot of pressure to write the recommendation for you. It gives them an honorable way of declining if they cannot write the recommendation for some reason.

Below is an example of how to write a personalized recommendation request message using the above guidelines:

“Dear Carol,

I hope you have been great down in Florida! I am in the process of looking for new opportunities as a marketing manager and was wondering if you would mind writing a LinkedIn recommendation for me based on the time we spent working on marketing projects together. I’m especially proud of the results we achieved on the Coca Cola marketing campaign and would like to highlight the results to a potential employer. Could you write a recommendation for me based on the work we did together on that project?”

Since I am looking to move into a management position, I would ideally love to highlight my leadership and decision making skills. If you could speak about your experience working with me as my supervisor while emphasizing how I displayed these skills, it would be especially helpful to me. The recommendation doesn’t have to be a long one. A few (3-4) sentences will do.

I would really appreciate it if you could do that for me if it’s not too much trouble. If there is anything I can do to help, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Best regards,

Kelvin.”

Such a recommendation request works because it adheres to all the guidelines discussed above.

It is clear from this message that the aim is to find a new job. It explains to the recipient why I chose her and requests specific details that I want her to mention in the recommendation (my leadership and decision making skills).

It gives the recipient the reassurance that they don’t have to spend a lot of time writing the recommendation and is worded politely. Watch how I even close by offering to help in case the recipient needs it.

Space Out Your Requests

There is one thing I have noticed with most people after they learn the importance of LinkedIn recommendations. They go out and immediately ask several people to write recommendations for them.

Sure, this will get you several recommendations, but there is one problem with this approach. LinkedIn recommendations come with a time stamp showing when they were posted.

If you ask send ten recommendation requests in a day and the ten people write recommendations for you within a day or two, it will be clear to a recruiter, hiring manager or client that you solicited these recommendations with the aim of influencing their judgment, and therefore they will probably ignore the recommendations.

Requesting several recommendations at once works against your goals. The solution, therefore, is to space out your recommendations. If there is a spacing of a few weeks or months between recommendations, they look like they are coming organically, which in turn makes them a lot more believable.

WRAPPING UP

LinkedIn recommendations are like the regular recommendation letters you typically attach when sending a job application the traditional way.

Having great recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can be a great way for you to stand a foot above other job seekers, especially considering that most job seekers do not even have any recommendations to start with.

Great recommendations show prospective employers and clients what others think of your skills and expertise and give them the confidence that they won’t be taking a huge risk by hiring you.

4 Keys to Scoring Amazing LinkedIn Recommendations

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