How to Ask for – and Receive – LinkedIn Recommendations that Count

pen and paperRecommendations on LinkedIn are wonderful. 

If you are searching for that next job or that next level in your career, they provide instant referrals from coworkers and past associates.  For those building a business, they allow potential customers to read reviews from your current or former clients.

LinkedIn even makes it easy in providing a form complete with script.

Often there is hesitancy in requesting a recommendation because it might feel as though you are bragging in asking for one.  There is no other way I can say this: get over it – there is a reason that that feature is listed on LinkedIn.  It is valuable!

Even if you send out several recommendations, you might find that you are not receiving much of a response, or the responses do not speak to your value. 

And this brings us to the point of today’s blog: how to write recommendations that make it easier for your contacts to complete while highlighting the value you wish to promote about yourself.

Receiving the general, “I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include on my LinkedIn profile” recommendation request can either strike fear into the recipient’s heart or leave them completely incapable of responding.

From the Receiver’s Side

That statement is too broad.  If you give someone too much room to think or navigate they will normally end up not taking any action at all.  We need rules, parameters, expectations or even just a hint of an idea of what you want.

In giving a recommendation, we do not want to get it wrong.

If you are in transition and looking for recommendations to boost the skills, abilities and qualities that you are selling to prospective employers then please, tell me what you need.

It may feel pushy or odd in helping direct your contact for a recommendation, but it is the best thing you can do.

Tell me what you are looking for and, if I feel qualified to speak to it, I will.

I had a good friend who is job searching send me a general request.  Since this is a good friend I took the time to send him a message back and ask, “What would you like me to speak to in the recommendation?  What would help you in the job search?”

He responded, “Whatever you want.”

We worked together several years ago so I do know him and his work.  However, I do not want to go on about some quality or trait that he did if that is not what he is selling in his current job search.  I do not want it to be irrelevant.  I want it to help him.

Since he has still not defined it for me, it still sits in my inbox.  Poor, lonely request being ignored because I have not been given any direction.

Example of a Recommendation when Job Searching

“I am in the process of searching for my next opportunity.  I am looking to remain in the FGH industry where I can really utilize my abilities in A, B, and C in the role of LMN or QRS.  As you and I had worked together at XYZ Company and you are familiar with my abilities in A, B and C, I am writing to ask if you could write a recommendation for me about these traits.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

You accomplish a few key points in the above recommendation request:

  • You let them know you are looking for a job (in case they did not know).
  • You have spelled out what you are looking for so that they now have those key words in mind in case they immediately know of an opportunity that would be right for you – or come across one in the future.
  • You sold your best qualities by outlining them and asking them to comment on them.  This will reinforce your selling statements to prospective employers when they check out your LinkedIn page and there are recommendations boasting about the very things you have introduced.
  • You narrowed down exactly what you would like the person to speak to, therefore making it easier to write a recommendation. Instead of receiving a general response such as “He was a great guy to work with” you have a recommendation that speaks directly to your skills and abilities.
  • You took the time to write a targeted email, not click and send a generic request showing the recipient that you took the time to think about them as and what is directly relevant to them.
  • You showed appreciation for their time, instead of leaving it empty and possibly the assumption that they have the time to do so and will just because you asked.

Example of a Recommendation in Building a Book or Business

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for allowing me to provide XYZ service to you.  I truly enjoyed working with you and was glad that you were satisfied with my services.  As you know, I pride myself in ABC, EFG and JKL and am writing to you today to ask if you would mind taking a moment to write a recommendation about my work, your experience or how you feel I delivered on these qualities.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

This type of request accomplished the same points as the job seeker: allowing your client to speak directly to your best qualities and the quality of your work within set parameters making it easier for them to respond.

What to Avoid

Do not send a recommendation to someone who is not qualified to speak on your behalf.

I accepted an invitation from someone a while back and within a week I received a recommendation request from them.   The problem was – I do not know them.  I never worked with them.  How could I possibly write a recommendation for someone I do not know?

From my personal perspective, I look at it this way: if I write a recommendation I am putting my name on it, it represents me.  I lose credibility if I recommend someone that I know nothing about their skills, abilities or value.

I am not going to risk my reputation and trust of my clients, friends or followers by putting my name to something that I personally do not know.  Forget it.  If you want me to bestow praise, then you have to earn it.

Do not ask for what you do not deserve.

Take a few extra minutes to craft a message that will help guide your contacts in writing a recommendation for you.  This is your reputation – it deserves that at the very least.

Give and Take

Lastly, return the favor.  If this person worked with you and is able to talk about your skills and ability, odds are you can do the same for them. 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

http://www.CareerPolish.com

Don’t Craft Your Resume Like an Online Singles Profile

Computer FlowersAbout me: Hard working, honest, trustworthy, simple person looking for someone who can have fun, go to a ballgame or dress up for dinner; no drama from past relationships or relationships that are not fully over; must be open, honest, trustworthy, genuine, love family, having fun and being affectionate. Blah, blah, blah….

 

Likes: Long walks on the beach, spontaneous outings, holding hands, great conversation

 

Looking for: Friendship with possible long-term if it is the right connection, let’s meet soon and see if the sparks fly!

 

I have a friend that joined an online dating service.  The above pretty much summarizes about 90% of what she has seen so far.

 

First of all – no one is buying any of this.

Second of all – it really says nothing.

Lastly – really?  This is the best you could come up with -the same as 9 out of 10 others?

 

And stop putting a picture that you took of yourself in the bathroom!

 

Your resume is not a personal ad, it is not about what you are looking for and will make you happy.  It is a sales statement to be focused on the employer answering the question what can you do for me.

 

Starting off your resume with a summary that is close to: “Looking for an opportunity with a progressive company to lend my talents and abilities to help them grow” is following the personal ad tactic.

 

No one is buying it

It really doesn’t say anything.

They don’t care what you want.

 

Look at it from the employer’s perspective: why would they want to read your resume and how are you going to generate enough interest to have them pick up the phone?

 

Focus on them.  What needs or challenges do they have and how can you solve them.  Explain how you have done this in the past to show a pattern of consistency.  Utilize demonstrative statements to tell not only what you did but how you did it, who you worked with and the results you achieved.

 

Revamping your resume away from the personal ad will take you from lonely single to happily employed!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

A tip on Asking for Recommendations on LinkedIn to Take the Pain Away

linkedinIf you are a LinkedIn user, I am sure that you have heard all the benefits about asking for recommendations to include on your page.

 

Instant testimonials to how wonderful you are – sure, who wouldn’t want that?

 

A lot more people that you would think.

 

Some people are embarrassed to ask for them or think that they would look like they are bragging in asking for them.

 

Get over it – there is a reason that that feature is listed on LinkedIn.

 

Because it is valuable!

 

Before you send out a boatload of requests to your contacts for recommendations, let me give you a quick tip on how to make it painless for your contacts, which will improve the chance of getting recommendations.

 

Not just recommendations – recommendations that count!

 

Receiving the general, “I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include on my LinkedIn profile” recommendation request can either strike fear into the recipient’s heart or leave them completely incapable of responding.

 

That statement is too broad.  If you give someone too much room to think or navigate they will normally end up not taking any action at all.  We need rules, parameters, expectations or even just a hint of an idea of what you want.

 

As a recommender – we don’t want to get it wrong.

 

If you are in transition and looking for recommendations to boost the skills, abilities and qualities that you are selling to prospective employers then please, tell me what you need.

 

It may feel pushy or odd in helping directing your contact for a recommendation, but it is the best thing you can do.

 

Tell me what you are looking for and, if I feel qualified to speak to it, I will.

 

I had a good friend who is job searching send me a general request.  Since this is a good friend I took the time to send him a message and ask, “What would you like me to speak to in the recommendation?  What would help you in the job search?”

 

He responded, “Whatever you want.”

 

We worked together several years ago so I do know him and his work.  But, I don’t want to go on about some quality or trait that he did if that is not what he is selling in his current job search.  I do not want it to be irrelevant.  I want it to help him.

 

Since he has still not defined it for me, it still sits in my inbox.  Poor, lonely request being ignored because I have not been given any direction.

 

If you are job searching, change the standard email to read something along the lines of:

 

“I am not sure if you are aware but I am in the process of searching for my next opportunity.  I am looking to remain in the FGH industry where I can really utilize my abilities in A, B, and C in the role of LMN or QRS.  As you and I had worked together at XYZ company and are familiar with my abilities in A, B and C, I am writing to ask if you could write a recommendation for me about these traits.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

 

You accomplish a few key points in the above recommendation request:

  1. You      let them know you are looking for a job (in case they did not know).
  2. You      have spelled out what you are looking for so that they now have those key      words in mind in case they immediately know of an opportunity that would      be right for you – or come across one in the future.
  3. Sold      your best qualities by outlining them and asking them to comment on      them.  This will reinforce your      selling statements to prospective employers when they check out your      LinkedIn page and there are recommendations boasting about the very things      you have introduced.
  4. Narrowed      down exactly what you would like the person to speak to, therefore making      it easier to write a recommendation.       Instead of receiving a general response such as “He was a great guy      to work with” you have a recommendation that speaks directly to your      skills and abilities.
  5. You      took the time to write a targeted email, not click and send a generic      request.  You are showing the recipient      that you took time in thinking about them as a recommender and what is      relevant to them directly.
  6. You      show appreciation for their time, instead of leaving it empty and possibly      the assumption that they have the time to do so and will just because you      asked.

 

If you are in business and looking to expand and reaching out to past clients, change the standard email to read something along the lines of:

 

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for allowing me to provide XYZ service to you.  I truly enjoyed working with you and was glad that you were satisfied with my services.  As you know, I pride myself in ABC, EFG and JKL and am writing to you today to ask if you would mind taking a moment to write a recommendation about my work, your experience or how you feel I delivered on these qualities.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

 

This type of request accomplished the same points as the job seeker: allowing your client to speak directly to your best qualities and the quality of your work within set parameters making it easier for them to respond.

 

One last note: do not send a recommendation to someone who is not qualified to speak on your behalf.

 

I accepted an invitation from someone a while back and within a week I received a recommendation request from them.   The problem was – I didn’t know them.  I never worked with them.  How could I possibly write a recommendation for someone I don’t know?

 

From my personal perspective, I look at it this way: if I write a recommendation I am putting my name on it, it represents me.  I loose credibility if I recommend someone that I do not know or, quite frankly, is not good in business.

 

I am not going to risk my reputation and trust of my clients, friends or followers by putting my name to something that I personally do not know.  Forget it.  If you want me to bestow praise, then you have to earn it.

 

Don’t ask for what you do not deserve.

 

Take a few extra minutes to craft a message that will help guide your contacts in writing a recommendation for you.  This is your reputation – it deserves that at the very least.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Marketable Skills – Look Outside Your Box

Manuel came home last night and gave me a sly smile and told me Jesse gave him a compliment. If you have a teenager you know exactly why he was smiling. For those of you without children or have younger children I’ll fill you in – teenagers do not give their parents compliments. Of course it was a bit backhanded, but it was there.

They were talking about going to the batting cages and hit golf balls this weekend because Manuel said he needed to get a couple of buckets in as he has a tournament coming up. Jesse asked if he even knew how to play golf. He told Manuel that if it were baseball he would not question it, he knows Manuel can play baseball, but golf? You see Manuel is a former ballplayer and has coached for years. But Jesse had never seen his dad play golf or known that he has played before so he naturally assumed he could not play. Ah, teenagers. In Jesse’s mind his dad was a baseball coach, not a golf coach.

This got me thinking about my class this week. We had a great discussion about how you may have marketable skills or abilities that you have learned even if it was not a part of any job description. Our personal lives offer us a multitude of opportunities that we can draw from in giving examples of skills and abilities during an interview. Volunteerism gives us these same opportunities that we can include on our resume.

One word of caution – if you are using a personal example make sure it is not too personal and that it is relevant. The examples should illustrate your point and be able to demonstrate rather than just tell a story. Sometimes people get a bit too comfortable during an interview and forget the whole point – to sell yourself to that person. You want to show them that you are the right fit for that job: you have the skills, expertise, experience and ability to be the solution to their problem. Telling personal stories with no point does not help you; this is not a social call.

It can be done and to help here is a personal example: Someone once asked me if I could successfully handle multiple projects that were outside of my comfort zone and, if so, could I give them an example. I explained that when I was first brought into the financial industry I was required to earn my Series 7 exam with the Series 9 & 10 to follow at some point. Within a short time period my ex-husband was also diagnosed with advanced aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Over the next twelve months I was successful at my duties at my position; earned my 7, 63, 65, 9 and 10 Series licenses; spend every night and weekend at the hospital learning about dialysis, chemotherapy, and various tests and treatments as my ex-husband successfully battled cancer all while managing my young son’s school and sports responsibilities and activities. The person looked at me and said, “I would say that is a definite yes.”

Even with our job we have opportunities to learn new skills that are not listed within our job description. We get so ingrained in our position and title that we forget all of the abilities and talents that we have developed that are not tied to a position. Just because it was not in your job description does not mean you have not done it. Think about your last position and what the job description was when you first started. Now think about everything that you actually did – I bet the two lists do not match.

Stop selling yourself short and start thinking outside the box. You are your hardest critic, but for today, knock it off. Start listing out your strongest skills and abilities and then go back to everything that you have done in work-world, volunteer-world and life-world. Start writing down all of the things that you have done, can do and have learned or achieved. Odds are you will see there is much more depth to you when you look outside your cubicle.