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Is This Part of Your LinkedIn Profile Hurting Your Job Search?

A powerful LinkedIn feature is often overlooked. Here’s how to get the most out of it.

Is This Part of Your LinkedIn Profile Hurting Your Job Search?
[Photo: iJeab via Shutterstock]

When it comes to recruiting, social networks aren’t going anywhere. The 2015 U.S. Recruiting Trends report from LinkedIn Talent Solutions found that 36% of U.S. recruiters say that social and professional networks are among the most important and long-lasting trends in recruiting for professional roles, and 43% said that recruiting will become more like marketing over the next 5 to 10 years. And 94% of recruiters surveyed in a recent Jobvite report use LinkedIn.

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One powerful area that often needs help on the average profile is the recommendation section, says social media expert Melonie Dodaro, founder and CEO of Top Dog Social Media, a Kelowna, British Columbia, social media consultancy. This is an opportunity for you to showcase testimonials about you and your work, but too often, what appears are “fluffy, non-specific recommendations that can do more harm than good,” she says. Follow these steps to use other people’s words to highlight your stellar track record.

Don’t Just Rely On Endorsements

LinkedIn endorsements are the one-click answers to questions like “Does Sally know about blogging?” or “Does John know about social media?” Recommendations, on the other hand, are written testimonials from people who have worked with you in the past, and have more impact than endorsements, says Loveland, Colorado-based social media consultant Viveka Von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour A Day.

Asking for recommendations from colleagues is a good idea—many people just don’t think to offer them spontaneously, she says—but limit them to about two or three per job, although you may want several more if you’ve been in the same job for many years or if you’re self-employed.

Position Your Recommendations For The Biggest Impact

The more recommendations you have from thought leaders or executives, the better, Von Rosen says. You can move your individual recommendations around, and you want the ones that are from more visible or higher-ranking folks higher in your profile, she adds.

Give Your References Some Guidance

When asking for a recommendation, you might want to give some direction about the areas on which you’d like your colleague to focus. Dodaro says you might want to write a sample recommendation or provide some bullet points to your colleague as suggestions, “but be sure to tell them to write what they’d like,” she says. A word of caution: Don’t send the same sample or bullets to everyone or else you’ll end up with a collection of reviews that read almost identically, she says.

Quality Over Quantity

It’s better to have fewer specific recommendations that a large collection that read something like: “John is a great guy.” Fluffy, vague recommendations make it seem like your colleague or supervisor couldn’t find anything of substance to say about you, Dodaro says.

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Focus On Results

Ask those writing your recommendations to include any positive results you generated, Von Rosen says. Where possible, include numbers, such as the percentage sales increase for which you were responsible, or how much money you saved the company with your initiatives, she adds.

Use Testimonials From Outside LinkedIn

If you have a strong testimonial from someone who is not on LinkedIn or who isn’t connected to you, add it as Media under your Summary, Von Rosen suggests. Your profile options allow you to add documents, photos, videos or presentations, so you can simply add the testimonial as a word processing document or a graphic, she says.

Re-Use LinkedIn Recommendations Elsewhere

Ask for permission to re-use recommendations as testimonials in other marketing materials to extend their utility, Dodaro says. You can use them on your website, in email marketing, or in other vehicles.

About the author

Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and web sites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books.

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