“I hate marketing myself,” is a common refrain in my coaching practice. 

But do you know what most people hate even more than marketing themselves? 

Asking other people to market for them.

This is why asking for recommendations on LinkedIn can feel super awkward.  It’s the job-seeker’s equivalent of asking someone to sign your yearbook. It feels needy and vulnerable.

These feelings can be all the more intense when you are in the midst of career instability such as: having been laid off, reentering the workforce after a gap or looking for a new role on the down low. 

The prospect of asking for endorsements brings up concerns about being ghosted 👻 or out-right rejected🙅‍♀️. 

But unlike the random and rarely-revisited ramblings in your middle school yearbook, LinkedIn recommendations from colleagues, coworkers, clients and mentors can be career GOLD!

Here’s why:

  1. Recommendations are social proof 🕵️of your competency & character. They give people (recruiters, hiring managers & potential clients) a sense of who you are – before they ever meet you!
  2. Recommendation are forever 💍. When you get one on LinkedIn, you have an endorsement for life (if you want it). And, with permission, snippets can be used and repurposed ♻️ for other social media, your own website or as quotes in your cover letters.
  3. Circulating recommendations 💪strengthens your network.  By some estimates: 85% of jobs are filled through networking – so having a strong, engaged and positive network of people willing to give and receive recommendations is vital for career growth.  

So LinkedIn recommendations are a great gift 🎁 to share with or receive from someone you’ve worked with. And ’tis the season of giving my friends.

How to Give The Gift:

Did you know that 60% of people in the workforce currently are actively looking for a job?

Chances are you know someone who might really appreciate receiving the gift of your recommendation. It’s also the case that some major companies have recently laid off huge numbers of employees – so those folks can definitely use a boost from you.

Make a list of 4 people who may benefit from your recommendation in the next month. Then plan to write one recommendation per week on LinkedIn. You can find the “recommendation button” if you go to their LinkedIn Page and scroll past education, certifications and skills. 

A great recommendation doesn’t take long. The goal is to write one that emphasizes their positive qualities, how you worked together and why you would recommend them. Easy peasy.

Here’s an article with a formula for “How to Write A Killer Recommendation on LinkedIn in Under 2 Minutes.”

How to Receive the Gift:

Maybe all you “want for Christmas” this year 🎅🏾 is to get a new and better job.

So asking for the gift of a LinkedIn recommendation (especially from the right person) is definitely on your list ✔.

Asking for and receiving a GREAT recommendation comes down to two things: Choosing your Timing ⏰ and Making it Easy 💅🏽.

Let’s start with choosing your timing. The BEST time to ask for a recommendation is when people are feeling good about you. 

Have you contributed to a project, supported a client, completed a grant or given a great presentation lately? Then it’s a perfect time to be asking for a recommendation from the people who have seen you in action. 

However, if the person you want a recommendation from isn’t someone you’ve worked with lately, you can still ask. Just be respectful of their time. Consider asking toward the beginning of the week – in the early hours of their work schedule. Avoid asking during busy periods of work or during work holidays.

Next – make it easy for them. Let them know what you want them to say, where you want them to say it and give them lots of support for getting it done.

Let’s say Susan, the head of marketing, has just paid you a compliment for your work at a recent meeting and things are pretty calm around the office right now. Go ahead and ask Susan if she’s willing to put her compliment in writing to support you as you grow your career.

Here’s a script to play with:

“Hey Susan, Thanks for the compliment you paid me after I facilitated the marketing meeting last week. I really appreciated what you said about my skill at engaging the folks in the room and creating a comfortable space for the participants to discuss a range of opinions on the plans. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to put some of your sentiment into a recommendation on LinkedIn. As I grow my facilitation role internally and my career long term, these kinds of recommendations really help. I know your time is valuable – so to make it easy, I’ll send you a request on LinkedIn & if (it helps) here’s an article on how to write a recommendation quickly and painlessly.”

If you are afraid to ask Susan at the office for a review – because it makes you look like a flight risk – then consider asking people outside of your company who have experienced your work: customers, industry colleagues, vendors, organizational partners, consultants and volunteers can all provide great recommendations too.

Keep Circulating the Love 

For those who have been following my newsletter for a while you will recall that I just launched my new website. In the process, I asked 10 + people to  offer a referral or recommendation on my website. So, I got a LOT of practice confronting my own resistance, finding my courage & reaching out to people I hadn’t spoken to in a while.  

It was well worth the effort. Not only did I get to have lots of lovely “catch up” conversations with former clients, but I received several really heart-warming recommendations that are helping me grow my business each and every day. 

You know who you are….and I thank you.

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About the Author: Kate Cockrill

A little about me... I am a social scientist, facilitator, and professional coach. Through my business: Kate Cockrill Coaching, I support mission driven managers and directors with 1:1 coaching, training & retreats on the topics of career design, leadership development and burnout resilience. My clients include leaders in healthcare, education, research and social innovation.

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