Friday, June 15, 2012

LinkedIn Recommendations: narcissistic nonsense or essential feedback?

One of the things I have been advised by James Hacon to do with my LinkedIn page is to gather some recommendations.  Recommendations are not necessarily references, but feedback about your skills and achievements. But do they really work? And, how do you go about getting recommendations?

Why do you need recommendations on your LinkedIn page?
I have to be honest...I have always thought that recommendations were fluff that meant little or nothing, especially when they were other words... "I'll give you a recommendation if you give me one!" 

However, recommendations help to capture the attention of recruiters and future employers. Apparently, the more recommendations you have, the higher up in the searches you will appear.

How do you get recommendations?
The easiest way to to ask for recommendations. Click onto "Profile", and then go to "Recommendations" and then ask your contacts for recommendations. I think it is good manners to explain why you are asking for a recommendation, and even give the person an idea what you are seeking feedback about. It is also inadvisable to send out a blanket request for recommendations to all your contacts, but just to focus on people who know you and your work. Whilst you want to gather recommendations, you need them to be meaningful. It is better to have quality, rather than quantity.  

I have just asked a few people for recommendations, and feel a bit weird about it. But at the same time, I do a lot of "free" stuff for people, so I thinking that in the future I will ask for a recommendation as "payment". It is good practice to seek feedback on one's activities. But if the recommendation is not what you want, you can choose not to publish it. I appreciate that it takes time for someone to do it, so have made a point of thanking the person, and/or writing a reciprocal recommendation, if it is appropriate. 

How to write a recommendation
It is important to think about how you write a recommendation because it will show up on your profile. Be clear what it is you are recommending...a specific activity...skill..or characteristic. Describe how you know the person, and talk about results. Be honest and concise, but don't gush

If someone asks for a recommendation, and you're not sure if you can give one, don't ignore the request...ask the person what exactly they want feedback about. Just be mindful that a recommendation that you have written reflects back on you, just as much as a recommendation that has been written about you.

Do you have any additional thoughts, comments or tips about giving or receiving LinkedIn recommendations? What has been your experience? Has LinkedIn recommendations helped you get a job?

Image: 'What is it that makes a good Real Estate Agent Great?'

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