LinkedIn is more than social media for your professional network. In fact, over 75% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to research candidates - even if they are not applying to jobs through LinkedIn. These recruiters, hiring managers, and other people in your professional network will be looking at your profile. So, here is what you need to know about getting the right recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.
Recommendations v. Endorsements
A lot of people confuse an endorsement with a recommendation on LinkedIn. Recommendations on LinkedIn are quite different than the endorsements. An endorsement on LinkedIn is someone in your network saying that you have a particular skill. The endorsement does not contain custom text, instead, the person is simply giving you a thumbs up for a particular skill in the skills section on LinkedIn.
However, a recommendation is much more as it is basically a review of you. It stays on your profile indefinitely and you can only get one from each person. The person providing the recommendation has to be on LinkedIn and they have to publish the recommendation that will show up on your profile. This public statement about your abilities can carry a lot of weight for your career and savvy talent acquisition people use this to make decisions about candidates.
Neither of these fields (endorsements or recommendations) is typically integrated with the ATS. Instead, the people evaluating you as a potential candidate will use the recommendations to research you. Thus, this is why the time spent on getting quality recommendations can make a big difference in your job search and career trajectory overall.
Who to Ask
Thinking about who to ask is just as important as how to ask the person for the LinkedIn recommendation. Use some strategy to find a cross-section of people to provide the recommendations for your profile. Remember the following when reaching out to people for a recommendation on LinkedIn:
*You Must Be Connected. The person providing the recommendation on your LinkedIn profile must be connected with you. Thus, many people will have to send out connection invites first before requesting the invite.
*Up, Down, and Across. Asking a cross-section of people for a recommendation means asking people that were your boss or supervisor, but also asking people who were your colleagues or people that worked with you on projects. If you have led people, you should also ask someone that reported to you. You do this because each person can say something different about you and that public statement goes a long way with your search.
*Be Ready to Give to Get. Many people will say sure, if you do one for them as well. That's completely fair and you should be ready to return the favor. Not sure that you want to provide the person a recommendation in return? Then, you may be better off asking someone else for the recommendation in the first place.
How to Ask
Once you know who you are going to ask, then you should ask the person for the recommendation. You may want to send the person an email, text, or call the person to ask them for the recommendation. In doing this, you can also give them the heads-up about WHY you are asking for the recommendation and what you are hoping they will cover in the recommendation. You may also get additional questions in this process about why you are asking for the recommendation in the first place, so giving the person the heads-up in a regular communication channel that you typically use to communicate with that person will enable you to address those items more effectively. And, depending on who the person is and how open you are with your objectives, you may find that you can avoid some unnecessary complications in the process.
There are lots of reasons why and when people ask for recommendations - and they aren't all about a job search. In fact, many people do it regularly in their career to capture a testimonial about a big project or success. So, getting into this habit now will make it less awkward in the future and make it easier for people to provide them to you without presuming you are looking for a new job.
The key to getting any recommendations on your LinkedIn profile is that you must ask someone directly. Tell them that you would appreciate it if they could take a minute to complete the recommendation for your profile. If it makes sense, you could also provide some context about what you are doing now and what you would like to highlight in that recommendation.
However you ask, you will most likely need to follow up with the person to get the recommendation. Remember, people aren't waiting around for the opportunity to give you a recommendation. So, be patient and make sure that you follow up in a professional manner if they haven't completed it.
What to Say When You Ask
Many people will be happy to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn when asked. But, they may not be sure what to say or how to say it. In that case, it is perfectly fine to give the person guidance on the process and to even offer assistance when asked. You can do this in a couple of ways.
First, when you make the ask, you could provide some guidance in the request. For example, you could say
"It was great working with you on the Smith project. I would really appreciate it if you could take a minute to provide me with a LinkedIn recommendation for me about our work together on this big initiative."
For many people, this will be enough to give them a hint about what you are hoping they will cover. Or, if you are open about your search with the person, you can say something like
"I am actively in the process of pursuing a new position where I can focus on the type of work we did together on the Johnson program. I would appreciate it if you could complete a recommendation for me on LinkedIn."
Second, depending on the person and your search, you may want to send the person a few links to jobs that you are pursuing. In doing so, you could tell the person that you are pursuing these types of roles and that you would appreciate help in providing a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Most people will then skim through the information you provide, use that information in preparing a recommendation, and they may even provide some help in pursuing those roles.
What to Do When They Say No
Not everyone will say yes when asked to provide a LinkedIn recommendation. This can feel like quite the blow to your ego. But, in most cases, this isn't personal. It can often be the result of the policies of their employer that can preclude them from providing any such recommendations. While these policies may seem unfair, there are often important reasons behind them - like compliance, contractual obligations, and conflicts of interest.
Whatever the reason may be, the person that says no will likely feel bad about not being able to help you out with a LinkedIn recommendation. So, instead of getting frustrated about their inability to help in the way you wanted, use the opportunity to open up the conversation about other ways the person may be able to help. Like to provide employee referrals to jobs that you want, serve as a professional reference (not on LinkedIn), or make introductions to other people that can help. So, don't let one setback keep you from thinking about the big picture. Instead, focus on finding ways to turn the no conversation into a yes that may actually matter more in your search or career overall.
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