If you have ever received praise for your part in a project or accomplishment at work, you can turn that informal recognition into a recommendation that is listed on your LinkedIn profile. Even if you can’t think of any specific event that’s particularly notable, a review of your overall professionalism can go a long way with a recruiter or hiring manager.
Unfortunately, if the person you have in mind does not have a LinkedIn there is no way to add an official “Recommendation” under your own Recommendation section. Of course, this makes sense, because otherwise some people would be tempted to add fake reviews for themselves.
There are two workarounds to this problem. First, you can try to get the person to join LinkedIn in order to leave the Recommendation. If that does not work, your second option is to include the text of the review in a written section of your profile.
Getting Them to Join LinkedIn
LinkedIn allows you to “Invite” people to join the site by inserting their e-mail address in a simple invitation form. However, this invitation can get lost in spam filters or simply be ignored. So before you do anything, give your contact a phone call or send a personal e-mail. Let them know how much value LinkedIn can have, even if they’re not looking to make any professional career changes. Then offer to send them the e-mail invite so they’ll know to be looking for it.
Here’s how to invite someone to LinkedIn:
- From your LinkedIn homepage, find and click the “Add Connections” button.
- Click the “Invite by Email” button to the right.
- Type the email address of the person you want to invite; you can add multiple emails by separating them with a comma.
- Fill out the message box. If possible, let the person know that you’re willing to help them set up their profile with tips and tricks you’ve learned. Thank them for their time and sign off.
- Hit send.
Once they’ve signed up, you may want to help them fill out their profile. At the very least, now is the time to offer to exchange Recommendations to help each other build up prestige on the site. Try to make the situation as mutually beneficial as possible.
You can actually send a request through LinkedIn for a Recommendation to make it even easier. In the request you can offer to write a rough draft or list the key points you’re hoping they’ll be able to affirm. List a few points you were thinking to mention for their recommendation, too, and thank them for their help.
Here is how to formally request a Recommendation on LinkedIn:
- While viewing your own profile, click the downward arrow next to your profile picture.
- Click “Ask to be recommended.”
- Fill out the form with the information LinkedIn requests, including the name of the Connection you want to recommend you, the area you want to be recommended and a quick message as described above.
- Hit send.
Give the person a week or so to write out their recommendation and post it to your page. You can follow up after 2 weeks to make sure they don’t have any questions about what to write or how to post it.
Adding the Review to Your Experience Description
If you’re not able to get your recommendation through the normal channel described above, it may be worth listing the recommendation in the text of your profile.
Usually, this review of your work would be placed farther down in your “Experience” box. If it’s an exceptional review from a well-known person, you may want to bump the review up to your summary at the top of your profile. Make sure you list the recommendation within quotation marks and cite the person’s name, title, company and when they worked with you.
Before you add this recommendation in the nontraditional way, you’ll want to assess whether it will be a net positive or a net negative. If you list one or two short quotes that aren’t too overly enthusiastic, you will probably be in a net positive place. However, recruiters will probably wonder why you couldn’t get a “legitimate Recommendation.”
There are two exceptions here, generally speaking. If the person passed away, or if your recommendation is from a publication—perhaps you were mentioned in a business magazine or nominated for an award.
If the person simply doesn’t want to join LinkedIn, you can ask if they are willing to list their contact information (publicly or revealed to recruiters by you upon request) as if it were a references section of a résumé. If the person has passed away, you can simply note this in the citation, ending the quotation with “an earlier recommendation from the late John Rogers.”
Building Up Recommendations—and When to Delete Them
When you are first building up your Recommendation section, you’ll be inclined to send the requests to everyone you can think of. Allow all of these Recommendations, whether done “properly” or pasted into your profile text.
Once your Recommendations slow down, you’ll want to more critically assess the quality over the quantity. Having two solid Recommendations is better than having 10 total where eight of them are only mediocre and drown out the value of the top few.
Aim to have two to three Recommendations that come from a more senior position and one or two that come from co-workers who may have engaged in teamwork with you. You’ll also want to mix up the broadness of your Recommendations, keeping a few that attest to your overall professionalism and a few that discuss the results and details of specific actions or projects you exhibited.
Once you have a stable portfolio, don’t be afraid to delete some of the less helpful, distracting ones. LinkedIn allows you to do this for a reason. Unless your in-text recommendation is really stellar, you’ll probably want to start by deleting those since they come off the least genuine to recruiters.
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