You’re likely hearing about the importance of building a meaningful and focused LinkedIn profile. Today, global professionals, business leaders, recruiters, hiring managers and entrepreneurs regularly use LinkedIn to understand, perform due diligence on and connect with others to advance their careers, business or initiatives.
As you exit the military and build your civilian career, LinkedIn should become a place you spend time each day and week. In addition to many of the popular features, tools and resources offered by the platform to help you showcase your skills, experience and goals, the Recommendations section is one of the most overlooked.
Why Recommendations Matter
In the military, self-promotion looked very different. You were taught that “service before self” meant it’s not about you; the focus should be on those you lead and serve alongside. Now, in the civilian sector, you are recognizing the importance of creating a personal brand and promoting yourself intentionally and with consistency. LinkedIn is one tool for self-promotion that has high credibility.
On your LinkedIn profile, you’ll add lots of detail and information to help readers learn more about what you’ve done, who you are and your career goals. Recommendations on your profile show that other people vouch for you, highlight details about their experience working with you and provide more detail about what you can offer.
Recommendations also enable you to emphasize parts of your personality, skill set or experience that would feel awkward to say about yourself. For example, if one of your strong traits is that you are compassionate and relatable, that might be strange to say in the first person. But if someone who’s been served by you, or worked with you, says they experienced you as compassionate and relatable, now the qualities have more weight.
How to Get Great Recommendations
If you ask someone to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn, or if they offer, consider these steps:
1. Identify someone credible.
Ensure they are visible on the platform, have a following and are in a position where their support of you will have meaning.
2. Think strategically about what you want their recommendation to include.
Identify keywords that are meaningful to the people you want to attract to your profile, attributes of your reputation and areas of your experience that their endorsement of you will strengthen.
3. Offer to help guide them in crafting the recommendation.
Otherwise, you might end up with several revisions and edits that need their approval (and yours) before it’s posted.
4. Ensure the recommendations reflect you.
Ensure all of your recommendations paint a well-rounded picture of who you are, what you stand for and how you want to be perceived. If you have five recommendations and they all speak to your expertise in problem-solving or team building, for example, consider getting some new ones that highlight other aspects.
How to Give Great Recommendations
When you write a recommendation for someone -- whether you’re offering or they’re asking, and you agree to write it -- ask questions to ensure your endorsement of them is valued.
1. Ask yourself if you’re comfortable attaching your name and credibility to them.
Do you know them well and feel comfortable recommending them? Is there any potential risk to you in publicly supporting them? I was asked recently to write a recommendation for someone I just met and connected with. I had to tell her that I wasn’t comfortable doing so.
2. Ask them what is most meaningful for you to highlight.
Do they want to highlight their work, personal traits or goals as they’re switching careers? What specific terms or keywords would they like you to weave in? When you can write a recommendation that supports their specific objectives, it will serve them best.
Recommendations on LinkedIn are a great way to highlight your value, character traits and skills in unique and interesting ways. As recruiters, employers and your peers read them -- along with your work experience -- they can get a more complete impression of who you are and what you care about.
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