This is a guest post by engineering career coach Anthony Fasano, P.E. of Powerful Purpose Associates. Anthony is giving away a special webinar for Engineering.com readers on his website. Read to the end of the post to find out how to get it.

One of the nice features about LinkedIn is that you can ask for a recommendation from anyone that you are connected to. In my opinion these recommendations are very credible, because they must come from the person you have asked. In other words, you can’t just post recommendations on your own profile. You can ask for them, but the other people must write the recommendations through their own accounts.

Regardless of whether or not you are currently searching for a job, I would recommend that you aim to have at least three recommendations on your profile. In order to get a recommendation on LinkedIn, you would click on “Recommendations” in the Profile menu, and then select the tab “Ask for Recommendations.” This brings you to a screen where you must do three things. First, select the position you want to be recommended for. For example, you can ask an old boss to recommend the work you did for him or her during one of your previous jobs. Secondly, you must type the name of the connection from whom you are going to request the recommendation. You can send this request to multiple connections at once, but this is NOT recommended. I will explain why in the next paragraph. Lastly, you must write the message that actually gets sent to the person. This message includes a subject and body text.

The key to this whole process is step three, the message that you send, or how you ask for the testimonial. As you can see in the photo above, LinkedIn provides a default message that you can change. The default message reads:

I'm sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know.

Thanks in advance for helping me out.

DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT USE THIS DEFAULT MESSAGE. This default message is extremely vague and leaves a lot to chance. Asking for a brief recommendation of your work is like saying to someone, “Can you go to the supermarket and buy something for me?” You have no idea if the person is going to come back from the store with a chocolate cake or a box of cereal. The same goes for your recommendation. They could say “Anthony does great work and I like him.” That kind of recommendation is not going to help anyone—and I wouldn’t blame the person who wrote it, because they probably had no direction.

When requesting a LinkedIn recommendation, I would advise you to ask questions that will provoke thoughtful, specific answers. Below are some examples:

Could you please provide me with a brief recommendation discussing how my work at your company helped to improve the overall company performance?

Could you please provide me with a brief recommendation discussing how my work on project XYZ impacted the success of the project?

Could you please provide me with a brief recommendation describing how my contribution to the senior capstone project impacted the overall project?

Could you please provide me with a brief recommendation describing my strong points as if you were explaining them to a prospective employer?

I gave a LinkedIn seminar a few years ago and asked one of the attendees for a LinkedIn recommendation describing specifically what he thought of my seminar, and this is what he wrote:

Anthony is an expert in utilizing social media to leverage business contacts and create leads and sales. I attended Anthony's seminar on LinkedIn last night and was so pumped up from his discussions and tips that I stayed up till 3 am to complete my profile. I went from 40% complete to 100% in less than 10 hours. Anthony's leadership and motivational skills are unbeatable and I highly recommend his coaching services to small businesses and professional groups.

I hope this post helps you to make the most out of your LinkedIn recommendations. Visit the links below to join my newsletter and get more tips and inspiration to help you to develop your engineering career.

Anthony Fasano, P.E., has recorded a version of his Engineer Your Own Success webinar just for Engineering.com readers which covers the important aspects of engineering career development based on his bestselling book. Get it at PowerfulPurpose.com. These are the strategies Anthony used to go from a struggling younger engineer to a partner at a reputable firm at the age of 27!

 

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