“It depends,” I said, “on the type of recommendation — meaning is it well written, and does it make use of concrete examples of your skills in action? If so, then yes, recommendations are helpful to potential employees whose profiles are viewed by a prospective employer.”
“Uh, yeah…but it also depends on who writes the recommendation. When I’m hiring for a position it’s important for me to see recommendations written by business partners as opposed to just friends. Anyone can convince a friend to write a nice review,” said a manager sitting in the back row.
Do yourself a favor…open a new tab right now in your Internet browser and check out the recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. What’s the ratio of comments shared by people you’ve reported to or done work for versus friends lending you a helping hand?
If it’s more than three to one in favor of your friends, it’s time to rethink your game plan. Here’s why…
Employers Want To Know Your True Fan Count
Can we all agree that it’s easy to spam Facebook by paying a third party to goose our total number of ‘likes’, but that a truly savvy brand focuses on user engagement in addition to their total audience reach?
LinkedIn has the same attributes when it’s used by people who want to learn more about you. If you can score a salient recommendation from someone who paid you money for a specific service (or relies on your expertise to help their cause), then you’ve struck gold.
This real life example comes from my colleague Will (He works for an agency that my company has a strategic relationship with):
You could say I owe Will a couple of beers for such a thoughtful recommendation written, unsolicited, on my behalf. But what if you’re new to LinkedIn or just don’t have a library of reviews to display yet?
Try using the following approach:
- Start With Colleagues — An employer might not view a recommendation as being noteworthy if it comes from someone who does not describe the business relationship you share, but it can help to find a recommendation from someone in a different department at your company (These are ‘internal clients’, after all).
- Don’t Hope For a Compelling Write-Up — Sometimes you will work with people like Will who are naturally gifted in written and spoken word, but that’s not always the case. If your reviewer is asked to think of something to write without a meeting or guide, they will typically take the path of least resistance: “Joe is a well-liked speaker who is always professional and has minty-fresh breath.” Make time to share a particularly compelling recommendation with your advocate or at least share your hope they will use specific examples in their message.
- Don’t Peg Your Recommendations to a Ratio — Earlier I wrote that your ratio of friends to colleagues/partners who review you shouldn’t be more than three to one. The point is you want to share good content, but don’t go crazy with the mathematical modeling. You don’t need 5 recommendations for every 100 connections. A few particularly compelling votes on your behalf are worth more than 60 lukewarm comments (Remember, if someone cares enough to check out your recommendations, they won’t stop at the number, they will behave like the manager in the workshop scenario does and weigh the merits of each).
LinkedIn has a learning center that can guide you through the path to a ‘complete profile’, including videos with helpful tips for the technical process of requesting recommendations:
…And so long as you’re not trying to sell me a Nigerian oil barge, feel free to check out my LinkedIn profile and request to connect…