August 21, 2013
LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations
It seems that every time I visit LinkedIn, I'm asked to endorse someone in my network for a particular skill -- and told that my contacts have endorsed me as well. A few of my friends who are beefing up their LinkedIn profiles have asked what endorsements and recommendations do for them in their search for a new job as well as their overall professional profile.
Recommendations on LinkedIn are the equivalent of professional references, given to you by people you have worked with. The most effective recommendations come from superiors (managers, leads, executives); peers who know your work; and customers or business partners. They should be detailed and speak directly to the skills you used when the contacts worked with you.
They are more about quality than quantity. If someone I haven't worked with directly asks me for a recommendation, I generally decline. It is optimal to get recommendations well before you would like to leave a company, as they could tip off your boss that you are actively looking.
Recruiters and hiring managers often look at recommendations. If a job candidate doesn't have detailed or positive feedback from his or her superiors, this can be a red flag. Hiring managers often perform back-channel reference checks (reaching out to a candidate's contacts for informal references), and your recommendations can really help in that process.
Endorsements are a more recent addition to LinkedIn. To endorse someone, you simply click on a specific skill to add it to their profile. You can endorse anyone in your network (and add skills to your own profile for your connections to endorse).
Although I don't treat endorsements very seriously, they do have an advantage for job seekers: The skills function as keywords when recruiters are looking for candidates, or when someone is looking for a potential connection to help with his or her networking efforts. They should not replace the information in your work history, however; that should include details about your responsibilities, duties, projects and accomplishments.
Bottom line: Concentrate on gathering quality recommendations if you are considering a job or career change.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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