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



Don’t Apologize – Celebrate

cubicleUniformity, conformity, homogeny, standardization – these are all great for assembly line products; not people.

We are all unique in our own little ways in all areas of our life from home to work.  So often in job searching people feel like they need to be a carbon copy to get their foot in the door.  They get to the point of almost apologizing for how they do what they do so they can be seen as everyone else.

Knock it off.

First, don’t apologize for anything.

Second, it is the point of how you do things differently that allows you to bring value to the situation.

Think about it, more than one person can do the job, but it is how they do it that makes a difference.

If everyone did it the same way there would no room for improvement, no challenge to the status quo, no advancement, no changes and it would get old and outdated quickly.

Instead of apologizing for your uniqueness or quirks, start celebrating them.

I ask a lot of questions, I always have.  It is how I learn, understand and be able to apply the right tools.  I used to apologize for this, instead I celebrate it and I prep them instead.

I let the other person know to help the most I ask a lot of questions but there is a method to my madness.  After we get through the series I then explain what I heard and my thoughts.  They are normally appreciative because above all I listened.

Not too long ago I was at a networking event with a friend.  Before he introduced me to his co-worker he told me that he needed some work on his network opening.

When he did introduce me he told his friend that I was the girl he was talking about that could really help with his networking.  His friend’s reply, “give it your best shot.”

Ha.  Seriously, don’t challenge me.

So he gave his pitch and I started asking, in rapid fire.  At one point he looked at my friend and he told him, “Just go with it, there are a lot of questions but she knows what she is doing.”

I didn’t apologize and my quirk is recognized for what it is – a useful tool.

At the end of it all we revamped it in less than five minutes and he was very happy with it.

Recognize not only your quirk but how it can help others.  That is how you can celebrate and demonstrate to future employers your true value.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Pick Your Battles While Remaining True To Yourself

Throughout my early career development I had bosses and mentors make mention that one of my strongest attributes was that I am a very passionate person.  Sometimes it was a good thing, sometimes not so much.


One of my early mentors told me that, especially with my passion, I had to learn to pick my battles carefully or I might steamroll everyone.  Yes, it was a compliment – but a lesson as well.


One of the most challenging ideas I had, and continue, to learn is leveraging my personal strengths to gain the greatest benefit to my company, my staff and the goals at hand.  Learning how to read situations and recognize when one attribute is preferable over another because ultimately it is not about me – rather it is about the value I can bring to others.  Much of this value is derived from my personality.


I think this is one of the biggest challenges people have when they begin a new job or feel like something has gone off track in their current position.  It is not just your skills and expertise that brought you to a company or position; it is also an element of your personality.  But finding balance between personality, strengths and corporate needs is a delicate balance.


Some things are more obvious – for example apparel.  I have a thing for shoes – some of my favorites are pointed toe, strappy sandals and boots all with three inch spiked heels.  In a very conservative environment I realize that some of my shoes are not appropriate so they don’t get to come to the office, others can be downplayed with the right outfit.  It is a balancing act.


For young women especially I find more and more that they have difficulty understanding balance.  Yes, you want your personality to show through; however there is a line between that and shoving it down everyone’s throat.  Error on the side of conservative and bring in smaller elements of your personality.  Allow your coworkers to get to know you for the value you bring rather than your unique style.  Your value will gain you respect, promotions and a secure future; whereas your style could lead to misinterpretation.


I’ve had young people argue with me that that is their personality and others will just have to get over it.  Aren’t they cute?  Listen up youngsters – if you are a talented, committed team member then I will allow for some slack on the unique personality.  However, if you are too busy shoving your personality down my throat with a “take it or leave it” type attitude I’ll ask you to leave.  You have not earned the right to shove anything in my face.


Professionalism – that means working, being part of a team, getting results – takes precedence in the work world over your too revealing or inappropriate clothing.  Deal with it – it’s called the real world.


Speaking of dress, I’ve also had staff members that, after a few years in the job, their professional attire had become more relaxed and on the verge of too casual.  Let me tell you a secret – in management meetings these things were noticed.  The decline of professionalism in dress was openly discussed and questioned as a direct correlation to their decline in commitment to their job and company.


Other elements of balance are more challenging to recognize and manage.


For example I am a pretty outspoken, take charge person.  Part of that is how I was raised, part was through business development and another part is due to life experiences.  But what I have learned is sometimes I need to just shut up and let others lead because I bring more value as a supportive team member than the leader.


If you find that you are in a state of continual battle in your current position it may be that you, too, need to learn this lesson.  It is ok to let go of the reigns and learn from others.  We all have things to learn from others and we cannot listen if we are always talking.


I will admit it is a hard thing to do – trust me, this I know.  Let me put it this way, one of my favorite male co-workers ever looked at me one day and said, “Can I be the guy today?” when we were working on a project.


On the flip side, sometimes we loose faith in ourselves and therefore loose the ability to use our personal/personality strengths and try to adopt others’ behavior to get through.  I’m an example kind of girl, so let me use one here and see if that helps clarify this idea.


I was recently in a situation that was going along all fine and dandy and then one day it wasn’t.  Instead of stopping, stepping back and remaining true to my intuition, skills and expertise to regroup, understand the challenge and proceed in a favorable manner – I got stuck.


In my stuck state I started listening to the analysis and opinions of others who do not approach challenges the same way I do and I begin to morph into their mindset.  Stupid.  What this did was to alter my behavior, the situation got worse – but luckily my vacationing mind just came back and said, “what the hell are you doing?!”


Kind of like if you know your boss is wrong and normally you would take them aside and gently explain your opinion yet something recently made you question yourself personally.  So asked the opinions of others and they said the boss would not want to be corrected.  So you keep your mouth shut and play dumb.  Then the project falls through and your boss calls you out for not communicating like you normally do.  You knew better – but you got afraid so you adopted someone else’s behavior.


This is where your personality is a key part of why you are there.  People do depend on you for certain elements that you bring to the table.  When you stop being true to some of your most valued traits the result can be that not only do you suffer, but the team does as well.


If you find yourself derailed or seemingly stuck in your position take a moment to think about what you have read here – have you changed something about yourself that is actually causing you to bring less than your best to the table?  Recognize it and fix it immediately.


Here’s the rub, though: it will take more time to get others back on track in seeing you for what you are and what they were used to rather than what you recently were.


In other words if your attire has been slackerish and you start dressing professionally again expect a few comments and the expectation that it won’t last.  Don’t pay any attention – you just keep doing your thing.


If you morphed into the wallflower and you start speaking up again – in a positive and productive way of course – then expect some surprise from coworkers and bosses.  No worries, just keep being true to yourself and they will eventually see, and be glad, that your brain is back from vacation.


Alternatively if you had turned into the steamrolling office grump then do not be surprised if others around you keep expecting the other shoe to drop when you start being a cooperative, engaged team member.  Reassure them that you are there to help and support and eventually they will forgive you for your temporary digression.


We all slip and fall at times, but it isn’t the fall that is important – it is what you do when you get back up that counts.  Remember, you are there for a reason.  How do you bring the most value to your organization by means of your skills, expertise and personality?  Get back to basics and move on!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.