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LinkedIn Recommendations: Five Ways to Make The Most of Them

By C.g. Lynch, CIO
February 19, 2009 03:20 PM ET

CIO - Within your LinkedIn profile, recommendations, which you must seek out and approve from contacts of your choosing, give employers a fuller view of you as a direct report, boss, colleague, or client. They make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic and personal than the fairly static information (where you worked, what you did) that appears in your general resume.

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But you can also do more harm than good with a LinkedIn recommendation. If you don't pick the most appropriate people, or if you use too many people, it might scare off potential employers who might look at those recommendations as a red flag rather than a helpful vote of confidence.

CIO.com wants to help you avoid that problem, so we spoke with online career management experts to figure out the best way to get LinkedIn recommendations and make them an asset, instead of a hindrance, at job hunting time.

How to send a LinkedIn recommendation request.

1. After you log into your LinkedIn homepage, scroll your mouse over to the left navigation menu where it says "Profile." Click on the subsection that says, "Recommendations."

2. On the Recommendations page, click on the "request recommendations tab."

3. You'll be walked through a basic three step process. Name the job (among those listed in your resume) for which you want a recommendation, using the drop-down menu. Decide who you'll ask for a recommendation. And lastly, write a customized note, telling the person why you'd like them to recommend you.

1. Who to ask for a recommendation? Look above, below and sideways.

While you should have a recommendation in which your boss praises your abilities and how your work helped drive good business results, don't stop there, says Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered (a career consultancy).

"If you want to demonstrate that you were a team player, having your peers say in a recommendation that you go the extra mile or help mentor people can help shape your image with a potential employer," Rosenberg says.

You also might want to look externally to clients and internally to your direct reports, says Kirsten Dixson, a reputation management and online identity expert.

"If you really want to show that you're an effective manger, you want to have endorsement from those people, not just the person above you saying so," Dixson says. "Recommendations should really be all the way around you: above, below, and sideways."

And while it seems obvious, make sure you know the person well before asking them for a recommendation. Not only will that ensure a recommendation with greater depth and detail, but also, you avoid putting someone in the awkward position of saying no.

2. Setting Expectations for a Recommendation

Like a recommendation written for the paper-based or e-mail world, a person recommending you on LinkedIn can benefit from some guidance on what thoughts and facts you're looking to present in their recommendation. As a result, it doesn't hurt to mention what aspects of your experience and relationship you're hoping to convey.

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