Whether you’re just starting in your job search or career, or you’ve been around a while, you know by now that you must network… and LinkedIn is an essential tool for successful job search and networking.
To make LinkedIn work effectively for you, you’ve got to have (among other things):
- A complete profile, optimized with the right keywords
- A significant number of connections
- At least 3 recommendations
Today let’s talk recommendations…
Does the idea of asking for a recommendation leave you choking on your latte? If so, let’s take all the scary out of that idea. First, consider these simple principles about recommendations on LinkedIn:
- They’re automated, so it’s very easy to ask people to recommend you.
- You won’t get recommendations unless you ask for them, so you need to learn how to ask.
- The easier you make it for the person to respond, the more likely they are to respond with a flattering recommendation.
Secondly, when you apply for a job on LinkedIn, the number of recommendations is on the first summary the employer sees about you. Therefore, you want to make this a part of your LinkedIn regimen. Here’s an example of what the employer sees:
So let’s get those connections AND those recommendation numbers beefed up, with these 5 steps:
Step 1: Make Sure You Are Connected
You can’t receive a recommendation unless you are connected to the person you’d like to ask for a recommendation. Focus on building your network, one quality contact at a time. Not sure where to start? Try LinkedIn Groups and Twitter chats like #jobhuntchat and #InternPro.
Step 2: Go to the “Ask to Be Recommended” Section of Your Profile
(Edit => Drop down arrow on right => Ask to be recommended)
Step 3: Select the “Role” and Person You’d Like to Recommend You
Step 4: DELETE the Default Text Provided by LinkedIn
You will personalize this request to both your receiver, and the message you want them to convey. Utilizing the default text, like failing to personalize a connection request, is a major networking and relationship fail.
Step 5: Craft Your Customized Request to the Person
Do NOT use the default LinkedIn recommendation text. Also, do not send recommendation requests in bulk.
When I get bulk or non specific recommendation requests – especially from people I don’t know that well – I delete them. Instead, customize your message to each receiver to ensure you get high response rates and high quality recommendations.
Put some thought into it and create a request that makes it easy for the person to respond. This is where your specificity pays off. The more specific you are, the better quality recommendation you’ll get. If you are not specific, then you get a recommendation like this:
“Zachary was great to work with, and we really loved having him on the team.”
What does that say that will differentiate you from the competition? Not much.
To craft a good SPECIFIC request, delete the default message (above) and use these ingredients:
- A warm greeting.
- A reminder of when/how you worked together. If you are asking someone that maybe you worked for in a college summer job, remind them of the situation and context.
- The request for the recommendation as you start your career.
- The specific attributes and results you would like that person to mention.
- An “ejector seat option” to allow the person to say no if they don’t believe they can make an honest recommendation.
- Thank them, and offer to help them in return.
So, let’s take a look at how this might look, using this roadmap:
(1) Hi Cameron, I hope you are having a good fall season.
(2) I had the pleasure of working with you on the Martin Greenspace Project last summer researching plant genomics. At the time, I was preparing to wrap up my college career.
(3) I’m writing to request a recommendation for my LinkedIn profile so that I am prepared for my upcoming job search and career launch.
(4) If you could recommend me, I’d greatly appreciate it. I would most value your comments that speak to:
- My work ethic and how I showed up on time and stayed until the work was complete
- My attention to detail in ensuring documentation was 100% accurate
- My contribution to the research project that enabled it to win more grant funding
(5) If you are not comfortable with providing this recommendation, please do not hesitate to opt out. However, any feedback you have that might help me would be greatly appreciated.
(6) Thank you so much in advance. Please let me know what I can do to support you in return.
Zachary Nebbins | 123.456.7890
You have about 1,900 characters for a recommendation request. The above example uses significantly less than that and should be more than enough. Be sure to use bullets and white space so it’s inviting, and easy, to read.
Approve and Post!
Once the recommendation is written, you will have the chance to review it, approve it, and post it to your profile.
You’ll also have the option to ask the person to edit the comment in some manner. Do so only if necessary. If you write a good request, you’ll be in good shape. Once the recommendation is written, approve and post to your profile.
Bask in your excellence. Then go get some more recommendations!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!
About the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.