LinkedIn has more than 400 million users. So how does a single job seeker or young business professional stand out, get found and then impress a potential employer?
Of course, there are many ways to make your profile easier to find on LinkedIn. For example, adding a quality picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed.
But when it comes to getting creating a great first impression, nothing beats social proof of your skills. And for that, the much-maligned LinkedIn endorsement feature is one of your top tools.
Here are seven ways to ask for, and get, legitimate LinkedIn endorsements for your profile:
Reach Out to Old Employers
The first place to look for legitimate LinkedIn endorsements is from those you’ve worked for in the past. Even if you are a recent college graduate, it’s likely you’ve had a part-time job in high school or a boss for a work study at your college. Reach out to these people and ask them if they’d be willing to add an endorsement of you on LinkedIn. Offer to send them an endorsement request through your LinkedIn account page to make it easier for them.
Next, reach out to those people you’ve worked with side-by-side. Did you work on a big project with another co-worker last year? Ask for their endorsement of your commitment to finish a task with excellence. How about that internship you completed last fall? Ask them to endorse you for specific skills. Co-workers are more likely to offer an endorsement because they’ll probably want you to return the favor. So ask!
Talk to Professors
If you’re a recent college grad, get in touch with college professors or mentors who encouraged you along the way. Explain you are looking for LinkedIn endorsements to help you stand out when applying for positions. Professors can speak to your work ethic and attention to detail. They can indicate you have good verbal or written communication skills as well.
If they taught you a certain usable skill, they can certainly endorse you for that as well. The key: do the thinking for them; think what you learned from them, thank them, then ask for the LinkedIn endorsement.
Add Endorsements on Volunteer Work
Think about the organizations and clubs you’re involved in. Did you volunteer your time at the local animal shelter? Lead an on-campus club? Fundraise for a local cause? Don’t hesitate to ask the director of the organization and co-volunteers to write an endorsement for you. These endorsements carry heavy weight for headhunters as they show that you are involved in your local community and that you put care and excellence into everything you do.
Friends and Family
Reach out to friends and family who are influencers in your line of work or desired line of work. Would they be willing to write an endorsement stating you have a specific skill? Do they think you’d be particularly well-suited to that career? For current college students and recent graduates, this is a perfect strategy for developing social proof of your skill set. In the eyes of the employer, it also aligns you with the influencer, which provides instant credibility.
Focus on Highly Relevant Skills
One way to attract endorsements is to make sure you are selective in the skills you add to your profile. Instead of checking off every box that is even slightly related, narrow your choices to your very specific skill sets. Need help defining which skills are most relevant to your career choice? Look at descriptions for jobs that interest you most. Under the requirements section will be a list of software platforms, soft skills and culture-specific needs of that company and perhaps the industry in general.
Use a Call to Action
Someone who happens to land on your page might know your work, but if they aren’t guided to add an endorsement, they may not think to do so. Add a call to action (CTA) at the bottom of your profile (or at the top if you prefer) asking for a legitimate, objective LinkedIn endorsement. A line of simple, bold text that says, “Worked with me in the past? Please add your endorsement below!” can work wonders.
While the LinkedIn’s Endorsement section certainly has detractors, it does help college students and young business professionals stand out from a crowd of other applicants. Deliberately seek them out; don’t be afraid to ask for the endorsements you truly deserve.
Then leverage the social proof that LinkedIn endorsements provide would-be employers… and carve out a great early career!
About the Author: Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a career site for young professionals. Catch her on social media and subscribe to her blog, for more great tips. Follow Sarah on Twitter!