Tag Archives: LinkedIn recommendations

5 reasons why LinkedIn Recommendations should get more respect

In my house the basement is designated for the stuff we barely use or bicycles that my kids ride in warm weather. It’s not the type of basement that is a furnished “man cave.” I give it no thought until the furnace or water heater need repair, or I have to retrieve the lawnmower to cut the grass.

basement

So when I consider the LinkedIn profile and how you can no longer move certain sections around at will, I think about one important section that is, as I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees, buried in the basement like my furnace and water heater.

LinkedIn has made a statement. Like my forgotten stuff and rarely used bicycles, recommendations have lost the value they once had. We encourage business people and job seekers to ask for recommendations, but given that they’ve are shunned by LinkedIn, why should we talk about them as if they’re a valuable piece of the profile?

What we talk about now are endorsements. But recommendations, to many, are more substantive than endorsements; they mean more.  (Read about my love/hate relationship with endorsements here.)

Do you remember when recommendations were required to meet 100% completion or All Star status? No longer is that the case. That’s right, you must have at least five endorsements on your way to stardom.

Below are five reasons why recommendations should get more respect.

1. Once considered one of the most important sections of the profile. Recommendations were once the rave of the LinkedIn profile; some considered them the profile’s best feature. Recruiters only had to read them to see your excellence. They could make a quick decision on whether to contact you or not.

But recommendations are more difficult to write than endorsements are to give. So eventually we’ve seen the number of recommendations decrease in favor of the all popular endorsements, which promote engagement and…laziness.

2. Say more about the recipient. This argument is so old that I’m tired of saying it, but I will. A recommendation is a testament, in the words of others, of your excellence. And we know the words of others say more about you than what you say about yourself. If written with thoughtfulness, a recommendation can be gold.

A three-year-old article (to this day) from FastCompany,  Is this part of you LinkedIn profile hurting your job search?, describes the virtues of recommendations. But it also warns against accepting recommendations that are fluffy.

3. Say something about the writer. People who supervised you are demonstrating their authority and the values they hold in an employee. When asked to write a recommendation for you without any guidance, they are going to think about what makes you a great employee. If they value teamwork, communication skills, expertise, problem solving; these values will show in their writing.

I always advise my clients to take care when they write recommendations for others. In other words, produce well-written recommendations. The reason is obvious; visitors are going to make judgments on your content, as well as how you write.

4. They are testimonials for business owners. When LinkedIn delegated recommendations to the basement, I heard a collective grown from business owners who relied not on their supervisors’ praise, but on the most important people, their customers. The reason for their disappointment was obvious; recommendations were great advertisement; they were testimonies of the greatness of their work.

One self-employed résumé writer had approximately 70 recommendations which he proudly displayed after his Summary section. In fact, he made a point of mentioning his recommendations in the Summary. He knew the importance of recommendations to his business. But one day poof they went, landing in the basement.

5. Can be used as excerpts for quotes on your résumé. Many of my clients have used excerpts from their LinkedIn recommendations as such. And it makes sense. If you are in an industry where quotes are acceptable as résumé fodder, go for it. The proof is there; the recommendations are on your profile.


Recommendations are valued by recruiters, so why are they designated to the basement? What can those of us do about the disrespect LinkedIn has shown recommendations?

We can write occasional updates expressing our concern or outrage. We can begin discussions in “official” LinkedIn groups. Finally, we can write long posts like this one, hoping that others will feel the outrage that I feel.

Photo: Flickr, Wm

 

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The most obvious differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile–Part 5

resume linkedinPreviously we looked at the differences between the Experience sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

In this final entry of a series about the differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile, we’ll look at the overall purpose of each document–the most obvious being that your profile is an integral part of your online networking campaign, whereas your résumé is specifically designed to secure a job.

It goes to reason that more people will see your profile than they’ll see your résumé, unless of course you’re blasting your résumé to every employer in the world. Bad mistake.

Years ago I came across a poll on LinkedIn asking which document the participants would give up first, their résumé or profile. The majority said they’d give up their résumé before the profile. I tell my workshop attendees I would do the same.

Maybe this is because I see the profile as more dynamic than the résumé. Maybe this is because the profile provides more room to expound on your strengths and accomplishments.

Previously we looked at some differences between the two, such as the photo and Branding Titles; Skills/Expertise and Core Competency sections; Summary sections; and the Experience sections. Most are dramatically different (you don’t include a photo on your résumé), while the Employment sections show the most similarities. To follow are the glaring differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

You use your profile to network online, but people want to see much of the content you would have on your résumé; although not a rehash of it. Even those in business must sell themselves to prospective business partners by showing their relevant experience and accomplishments. Keywords and phrases are also essential to include on your LinkedIn profile and résumé.

The profile is more dynamic than the résumé for many reasons. Call them bells and whistles, but there are features on the profile that you wouldn’t or couldn’t include on your résumé. Here are lists of features that are exclusive to the profile, that lend well to networking:

Activities allow visitors to see how you’ve been utilizing LinkedIn to network. Have you been sending updates with information about your industry and/or occupation? Maybe you’re attaching an article you found interesting and valuable to your network. Show people that you’re active on LinkedIn by commenting on updates.

Media can be positioned in your Summary or Experience sections. Show your connections PowerPoint presentations, YouTube clips, or, like me, a link to your blogsite. The introduction of Media is at the expense of many applications LinkedIn deemed unnecessary perhaps, some think, for business purposes.

Information-rich Skills/Expertise with Endorsements are a nice touch. You can post up to 50 skills or areas of expertise, and your connections can endorse you for each one. Endorsements is LinkedIn’s way of keeping networking active and paying homage to your connections.

Recommendations have always been a favorite of LinkedIn members and recruiters and employers, as recommendations allow them to see the favorable comments you’ve received, as well as the recommendations you’ve written for others.

Additional Info like Interests and Personal Details are normally missing from your résumé, unless the hobbies and interests pertain to the jobs you’re pursuing. A nice touch some people may not be aware of is Interests hyperlinks that take you to potential connections and groups.

Connections and Companies and Groups you’re following further encourage networking by showing visitors with whom your connected, which companies you’re interested in, and the groups to which you belong. You can chose not to allow people access to your connections, but that seem counterproductive if you’re trying to network effectively. Hopefully people will send you a note saying, “I see you’re interested in Kronos. I know the hiring manager for engineering there.”

This being the last entry in this series ends with, it may seem, a large boost for LinkedIn. I said I would choose the profile over the résumé, but I also stated that each has its own purpose, the former for a targeted job search and the latter for job search and business networking.

 

2 ways to ensure you receive a timely, quality LinkedIn recommendation

RecommendationMany jobseekers and employers think LinkedIn recommendations are worth gold. Recommendations espouse jobseekers’ performance, describing valuable skills and accomplishments, and are visible on their LinkedIn profile for potential employers to see. What a great LinkedIn feature.*

However, as valuable they are, requesting a recommendation can be frustrating for two reasons, timeliness or the quality of a recommendation…or both.

So after waiting for months and receiving something that doesn’t describe you the way you’d like, what do you do? Do you send the recommendation back to your reference, or do you post it on your profile as is? You send it back and you risk waiting even longer for a revised recommendation.

Let me suggest two ways to ensure a shorter wait, as well receiving a recommendation with which you’ll be happy.

1) First, offer some guidance to the person who’s writing your recommendation in terms of the types of skills, accomplishments, and experience you’d like to be included in the recommendation. Having written recommendations for others, I know how difficult it is to determine what to write about the recipient.

So eliminate any guesswork and tell your reference you’d like her to hit upon your leadership, customer service, team-building, technical expertise, or other strong skills. Also remind her about any accomplishments, e.g., you increased productivity 55% by taking the initiative to develop a better process to track and store electronic parts; just in case she has forgotten.

2) The second alternative is one that will require more work on your part; writing your own recommendation. This is a last-ditch effort but one your reference will greatly appreciate. You may remember doing this where you worked, when your manager told you to write your own for her to sign. Same idea.

This takes considerable work on your part because it takes stepping outside yourself to evaluate your performance. In other words, how would the person writing your recommendation see your current or past performance? You’ll be promoting yourself, which is not always the easiest thing to do. But this is not hard to do as long as you are as objective as possible. Refrain from using adjective like “excellent,” “outstanding,” “perfect,” etc. Stick to the facts. Also expect your professional reference to edit what you write, perhaps revise it significantly.

Recommendations are still valued by employers who visit your profile. It gives them an idea of your talents and promise for the future; so why drive yourself crazy waiting for them to arrive, and why guess what you’ll receive from the well-intentioned reference.

*Recommendations have been replaced by Endorsements as one requirement to reach 100% completion for a profile. This implies endorsements hold real value, which many LinkedIn members dispute. These naysayers think it’s a lot easier to click on someone’s skill/s than it is to write a thoughtful recommendation. I agree.

If you’re on LinkedIn, put effort into it

In my LinkedIn workshops I ask how many attendees are on LinkedIn. Some reluctantly raise their hand, clarifying they’re on LinkedIn but haven’t touched it in years. I tell them we’ll do something about that, because otherwise it’s a waste of time.

Alison Doyle of About.com wrote an honest article entitled “Don’t Waste Your Time On LinkedIn.” Let me rephrase: If you’re going to be on LinkedIn, do it right so you’re not wasting your time and the time of others who visit your profile, including employers who are searching for talent.

What I like about her article was that Alison tells it how it should be. I also like the article because she confirms what I’ve been telling my LinkedIn workshop attendees about not engaging in LinkedIn in a half-baked way. It’s better they hear the truth then spend the time starting a profile only to forget about it and take up space on the many servers LinkedIn use s to host over 120 million users.

“If you’re not going to do it right, there is no point wasting your time (and everyone else’s) on LinkedIn,” Alison writes. “LinkedIn is ‘the” site for professional networking.’”

Amen. Furthermore, she explains that when she is invited to connect with people on LinkedIn and goes to their profile to glean information on them, only to find their title or, worse yet, a “Private Profile,” she’s not likely to connect with them.

I sense her frustration and understand the reason for writing her article. She’s absolutely correct. What motivation would I have for connecting with someone who is unidentified? And for you employers, why would you pursue someone who has a profile that gives you very little information in terms of their skills, accomplishments, and related experience? The answer to both is a resounding none.

The bigger dilemma. This leaves the LinkedIn newbies with a dilemma. Should they join LinkedIn and put themselves out there if they’re not going the make the investment needed to succeed in networking on LinkedIn—let alone identify themselves? The truth is a poor LinkedIn profile will do more harm than good. Here’s why:

No photo will send a message to employers and potential networkers that you have something to hide—namely age. Whether we like it or not, LinkedIn wants us to be visible. While business people have no reason to fear age discrimination, jobseekers might. Jobseekers simply have to bite the bullet and have faith that their age will not hurt their job search.

An undeveloped Snap Shot is the quickest way to turn someone away from your profile. I’m referring to more than the photo; there’s the name and title, as well as potential blog or website URLs, that visitors see when they visit your profile. A developed Snapshot includes a full name with a descriptive title. Don’t be vague and announce yourself as a “Public Relations Professional,” when you’re a “Strategic, bilingual HR leader/business partner who achieves strong results through innovative solutions.”

The Summary section is often neglected by people who simply copy and paste their four-line résumé Summary statement. Folks, we have 2,000 characters with which to work. Let’s use them to craft a creative, descriptive Summary that states our value proposition and showcases our attention-grabbing skills and experience. Have fun and use the first person narrative, or even third person narrative if you’re accomplished.

The Experience section is also an area where visitors like to learn more about your identity. Simply listing your job title, company name, and dates of employment says, “I’m too lazy to give this any effort.” This laziness will get you nowhere. List three, four, or five major accomplishments for each job.

The last section I’ll address are recommendations, which do a tremendous job of telling visitors who you are through the eyes of your former supervisors, colleagues, vendors, partners, etc. Ask for and write at least five or six recommendations. This is especially important for jobseekers who need to deliver a quick punch.

Alison Doyle’s article had a little bite to it—I imagine because so many people with poor profiles asked to connect with her. I took a gamble and asked Alison to be in my network. Within half an hour I was accepted and also invited to join her group. Thank You, Alison. I’m glad I passed the test.