Recommendations for Recommendations

LinkedIn is an evolving, lasting version of your resume that can be helpful for connecting with potential employers, partners or collaborators, but that impression depends on what your page is really saying.

One of the most overlooked portions of anyone’s LinkedIn page, from a builder’s perspective, is the recommendations. Many youth have no recommendations at all, but college is the time of free favors. Having a group of people sounding off about your skills and qualities is proof that everything else on your LinkedIn page is true and shows that you have a network of people that will back it, but how do you go about getting glowing recommendations?

You have to ask.

It’s not pleasant. It’s sometimes awkward, but asking is the best way to ensure you get a recommendation, and LinkedIn has a process built into the system to request them for that very reason.

However, it can still be intimidating to ask someone to come sing your praises, so here’s some tips on requesting recommendations in a way that ensures that you’ll like the results.

Ask At the Right Time.

Recommendations, like most of a LinkedIn page, fall to the wayside until we’re actively searching for a job or trying to impress someone. Sometimes that means that the connections you made in the first year of college are already teaching another group of 100+ students or have all new employees, so don’t expect them to remember you come graduation.

Now, I know you’re a memorable rockstar, but everyone’s memory falters overtime; so it’s a much better idea to send recommendations when you’re time with someone is ending, or after a long stretch of time actively working together.

For example, if you’re leaving a job you’ve had for six months, the prime time to ask your coworkers or manager for a recommendation would be right before leaving or soon after. In another example, if you’re finishing a class with a professor you don’t reasonably expect to have again in your time at school, that’s the time to request a recommendation from them.

Whatever you do, don’t wait four years and then ask your first year seminar professor to remember all the specifics of that awesome project you presented.

Ask Personally and Professionally.

Don’t use the little sentence that LinkedIn generates for you when requesting a recommendation. Write a personal and professional message before sending it. Take a minute or two to address the person to show that they should spend their time helping you.

Tailor the message to your relationship with that person. If they managed you either as a higher-up at a job or as a teaching role in your education, be formal, polite and specific.

For example:

“Professor Rubik,

Since we’re reaching the end of the semester, I am writing to request a recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed your course, and I am proud of the work I completed for it. If you’re willing, I would appreciate your recommendation based on the detail-oriented work I completed, specifically for Unit 5 and my ability to lead the small group I was head of for the final project.

If there’s further details you’d like, I am happy to provide them through via messaging here, or through email at [email protected].

Thank you,

Student”

If your relationship with a professor isn’t so formal, don’t feel the need to be this uncomfortably formal, but do recognize that you’re asking someone to vouch for you and to spend some time writing about your work.

If you’re writing to a peer or someone who you know is actively in a similar situation as you, it can be helpful for both of you to offer to write a recommendation for each other.

Additionally, if you’re sending a request to someone you see often face-to-face, mention that you’d like a recommendation or ask them in person before sending something electronically. It’s both personal and respectful, plus it can lead to more casual, comfortable exchanges about what you’re looking for.

Be specific

When you’re asking someone for a recommendation, especially if you only worked with them in a single course or for a limited amount of time, be specific when you ask. Think about what they can speak to best, what angle they have the best perspective on.

For peers, focus in on a course or even a specific project in which they can provide more detail on. This will be far more interesting than the main body of your LinkedIn post ever will be..

At the end of the day, there’s little to lose by asking someone to write a recommendation, but there’s lots to gain, so keep that in your mind as your updating and upgrading your LinkedIn profile.