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by Vault Careers | July 18, 2016


Opinions vary about the effectiveness of LinkedIn endorsements, which easliy allow LinkedIn contacts to "promote" one another with the click of a mouse. Some view them as an important piece of your online profile, showcasing your skills and talents, while others see them as virtually useless since endorsements are often suggested, are easy to make, are not personalized, and anyone with a connection can make one. 

LinkedIn recommendations, on the other hand, are not easy to obtain (they require a fair amount of effort by the person receiving the recommendation and the one giving it) and are often (but not always) personalized. Thus, most believe they hold considerable weight, at least a lot more weight than endorsements. And some hiring managers even use recommendations as tiebreakers to choose one person over another when weeding out job candidates.

As a result, LinkedIn recommendations can be incredibly important. However, many LinkedIn users don't capitalize on the recommendation tool, often thinking that it's too much trouble to get a recommendation (who's going to want to take time out of their busy schedules to write me a rec?). To that end, here are three tips for getting LinkedIn recommendations, which, who knows, could also get you the job.

 1. Choose wisely

When deciding whom you should ask to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you, treat it not unlike you would a normal letter of recommendation. You want someone with whom you've worked for a significant period of time, and someone who was a manager or supervisor of yours, as opposed to a coworker. A client is also a possibility if you spent considerable time working closely with a particular client. How a LinkedIn recommendation might differ from a typical letter of recommendation is this: you very possibly could be targeting someone who can best speak to a certain skill or experience that you want to highlight as part of a job you want to obtain. So, when choosing a contact to ask for a recommendation, think about potential holes in your resume or application that you need to fill. For example, if you're looking to get into a more managerial level position but don't have a ton of managerial experience on your resume, you might ask someone who can speak to your managing-people experience, even if that experience isn't all that extensive.

2. Reach out via email first.

Rather than just going ahead and reaching out to the person you want to give you a recommendation via LinkedIn, if you have your identified rec-giver's email, then reach out via email first. Chances are the recipient will see the email sooner that way, will reply faster, and will treat your request more seriously; LinkedIn messages can go unread for weeks, and some poeple don't look at them as urgent or that important. Email also gives you a chance to create an online conversation about your recommendation, which will likely make your recommendation more substantive. And that's what you're going for: a substantive recommendation. Hiring managers can see through the basic, form-letter recommendation from miles away.

3. Personalize it.

For those people you're comfortable asking, you'll want to request a LinkedIn recommendation similar to how you would request a letter of recommendation. That is, avoid sending generic requests to many people (LinkedIn recommendations are dated, so if you get a lot of recs at the same time it will look odd to recruiters). Instead, contact each person individually, reminding the person of your connection (if it's been a while since you have been in touch), and include your reasons for seeking the recommendation as well as any other pertinent information. Of course, remain professional and avoid being pushy, and, as mentioned, consider including a few key areas that you would like the person to highlight in the recommendation.

Once you've followed all of the above and are ready to begin the recommendation requesting process via LinkedIn, log on to your account, read LinkedIn's guidelines about how to request a recommendation, and request away. Good luck!

This post was adapted from the Vault Guide to Networking.

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