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Networking on LinkedIn for recommendations

LinkedIn is the place to go when it comes to finding a job. With 77% (Jobvite, 2018) of recruiters using LinkedIn as their main source for reaching out to candidates, it is becoming increasingly important for recently graduated job seekers as well. LinkedIn is very much like a digital version of your resume and/or business card. In order to be successful on LinkedIn, you will therefore need to treat it just like your resume. Recommendations are part of your LinkedIn profile and are essentially references from people who you have worked with. In this article, we will explore the best practices to gain high value recommendations on LinkedIn.

Why are recommendations on LinkedIn important?

Recommendations on LinkedIn are in some sense just like traditional references on resumes. However, references on resumes are often just contact information of your ex-manager or director. Some employers write a letter of recommendation, but this is certainly not common. Those letters of recommendations are very valuable though. The only downside to them is that you cannot easily showcase them anywhere. It would be kind of strange to upload them to your profile without any context. Luckily, LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to show recommendations from fellow connections. The good part is that they are visible for everyone to see when they visit your profile. Recommendations are essentially a sort of proof or review of the work you have done in the past.

How can I get recommendations on LinkedIn?

Before I move on to tell you the best ways to gain recommendations on LinkedIn, it is important to highlight that you will need to have a well optimized and completed profile on LinkedIn. As I mentioned earlier, it is much like your resume and without meaningful content your recommendations will not be worth a lot. After you have completed your LinkedIn profile, it is time to reach out to connections within your network. You would want to focus on people with whom you have actually worked together. Let me sum up some examples of people you can ask for recommendations on LinkedIn:

  • People you have worked with on projects for your study. Ask them how they would describe your role within the project and let them highlight the things you excelled in.
  • Ask a co-worker, manager or ex-colleague to write a recommendation for you. They know best how you have performed in your current role and what your strong points are.
  • Reach out to people you have worked with when you doing voluntary or community work. It tells a lot about your personality and getting a recommendation from fellow volunteers can really have a positive effect on your profile.
  • If you are playing sports on a high level, it can be worth a shot to shoot a message to your (former) coach. Just like voluntary work, sports have a positive impact on how you are perceived. It is often associated with ambition and drive.

This are just a few examples of people you can address to ask for a recommendation. Of course, work and study related recommendations are still the most valuable. After all, employers are mostly looking to get a glimpse of your performance in a work environment. My advice would be to put focus on those kind of recommendations. Now, the next big question is how you can reach out to current or former colleagues/managers to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn?

Your current colleagues are the easiest ‘target’ to ask for recommendations. If you have a good work relation with them, it is often a lot less awkward to ask them to write a short recommendation for you. If you are not 100% sure they would do what you ask them, you can always offer to write one for them as well. I wouldn’t recommend to directly ask your current manager to write you a recommendation. It may come off as of you are looking for a new job. The best thing you can do in this situation is to pro-actively write a recommendation on the profile of your manager, with the hope that he or she will return the favor.

For people with whom you have lost contact, a simple message on LinkedIn can suffice. To give you an example:

“Hi Thomas,

Long time no see! How have you been?

I am currently updating my LinkedIn profile and this got me thinking about the project regarding Employer Branding we did together during our study time. As I am pursuing a career in that direction, it would mean a great deal to me if you could write a recommendation on LinkedIn about it. If you want I can do the same for you, of course.

Let me know what you think!”

By actively reaching out to former and current colleagues you can build an impressive portfolio of recommendations on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that genuine and honest recommendations have the most positive impact on your profile.

Hirebel has recently be mentioned in the list of the top 100 career blogs. The goal is to keep climbing on this list. Check it out here:

About Author

Hirebel is focused on providing you with valuable insights on how to improve your career and how to get the most out of your working life. Occasionally there are sidesteps to topics related to new technologies that enable people to achieve their (life) goals.

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