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The Secret to Building Credibility with Recruiters: Gather Solid LinkedIn Recommendations

By Laura Smith-Proulx

Tapping the Hidden Job Market (PULL)Looked at others' LinkedIn Profiles during your job search? Noticed the Recommendations section?

Recruiters, hiring managers, interviewers, and potential new co-workers WILL be interested in reviewing these publicly-stated testaments to the quality of your work.

While LinkedIn accolades may seem gratuitous on the surface, they are often viewed and can carry substantial weight, particularly for people who don't know you.

In other words, if you have not gathered many referrals, it is time to get moving!

How LinkedIn Recommendations Work

LinkedIn places Recommendations near the bottom of your Profile, below the Skills & Endorsements section. But, do not be fooled by that placement into thinking that Recommendations are not important.

A Profile lacking Recommendations usually has less credibility with recruiters and hiring managers. They want to see "proof" that the claims in your About and Experience sections are true.

When someone writes a Recommendation for you, you have two options. You can accept it as written or request edits. If you accept, LinkedIn publishes it immediately. If you request an edit, the back-and-forth messaging will delay visibility and, in some situations, may cause a Recommendation to disappear.

When you write a Recommendation for another LinkedIn member, the same process applies. Your Recommendation may be accepted as written or edits may be requested.

Often writing a Recommendation for someone results in a reciprocal response without asking for the Recommendation.

LinkedIn makes your two most recent Recommendations visible to anyone viewing your Profile with the date each was published. Generally, having Recommendations that are relatively recent is a good idea.

In your Profile, LinkedIn publishes a count of the Recommendations you have "Received" and "Given." Both may be clicked to see the other Recommendations you have received and sent.

For details about the elements of a winning LinkedIn Recommendation, read The 3 Elements of Great LinkedIn Recommendations.

Sample Messages to Send

LinkedIn Recommendations are typically short, a paragraph or two, usually fewer than 100 words. Look at these potential sources for great recommendations:

  To Colleagues  

While you might prefer a LinkedIn recommendation from a supervisor, co-workers can be a solid (and surprisingly accurate) source of testimonials. Unlike a boss, colleagues are usually close enough to spot trends in your work or recall your diligence on a particular project.

When approaching a co-worker for a LinkedIn endorsement, issue a request using the LinkedIn "Ask for a recommendation" feature at the top of the Recommendations section. Include a personal note along the lines of:

"John, I hope you remember our work together on the Alcatraz Project. Would you be comfortable placing a recommendation on my Profile that describes my role and value-add?"

A note of caution: LinkedIn automatically asks every recommendation recipient to return the favor and write a recommendation for the person who just recommended you. While this makes sense in some cases, be sure to limit your reciprocal endorsements, as recruiters may ignore these "traded favors."

  To Bosses  

Approaching a past (or even current, depending on your relationship) supervisor can feel daunting. However, you can map out a plan that includes approaching your boss personally (with at least a phone call), then a carefully-worded request for endorsement via LinkedIn:

"Jerry, it's been a great experience to work on your team and learn from you. I am requesting a recommendation that can be used to describe our working relationship and my growth in this position."

  To Clients  

Recommendations don't have to come from within your employer's place of business. Clients often witness the extra effort put in by account reps, consultants, sales managers, and other professionals, and can be approached for an endorsement on LinkedIn:

"Liz, I enjoyed getting to know you and your business throughout my time with XYZ Corporation. Your operation is certainly among the most well-run in the LED manufacturing industry! Would you be comfortable placing a recommendation on my Profile that outlines our collaborative efforts in your business success?"

The Bottom Line

While gaining more LinkedIn recommendations might not be high on your priority list, these testimonials will be scanned – and often – by prospective employers! Try some new ways to gain more recommendations by making it easier for others to verify the quality of your work, using a personal, heartfelt request.

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Laura Smith-Proulx About the author...

Job-Hunt's LinkedIn for Job Search Expert Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director of An Expert Resume, is an award-winning executive resume writer, national columnist, author, LinkedIn and SEO enthusiast, and past recruiter. Laura is author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips and Strategies to Access the Hidden Job Market. Follow Laura on Twitter at @ResumeExpert and on LinkedIn.
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