How to Use References, Kudos, and LinkedIn Recommendations in Your Job Search

 In Networking & LinkedIn

Recommendations from past employers or clients are a great way to support your credentials with evidence. Recruiters and hiring managers routinely cross-check candidates’ resumes with their LinkedIn profiles and look for additional career details. Recommendations are some of the most-read sections of your profile. To help your potential employers appreciate your value, put together a good collection of recommendations.

Commit to high quality of service and relationships.

To begin with, serve every project and client to the best of your ability so that your work could speak for itself and get you referrals. Treat every client, partner, leader, and person on your team as a potential reference. Sometimes, an impressed client will volunteer to write a positive review. It is also a great idea to ask for feedback regularly, gaining both criticism and positive comments. Take some time to review your approaches to giving and receiving feedback.

When is a good time to ask for a recommendation?

You can ask for one at the end of the project, when turning in the final work, after/around performance reviews, when you know you have exceeded expectations, when you are moving on to a new opportunity, or when the client/employer compliments you (informally) about your work. You can also ask for feedback from your trusted colleagues and leaders when you know you need some help in improving your performance.

How do I make sure that I get a good recommendation?

Respect your colleagues’ time and help them save time when writing your recommendation. Remind them of your main achievements; compliment them on something you did together and what you enjoyed about working with them; tell them a few words about your career goals and what skills you would like to see mentioned in the recommendation.

Send them a link they can easily use. To do this, add /detail/recommendation/write/ to your LinkedIn URL and send them this link. For example: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tmykhaylychenko/detail/recommendation/write/

Write a personalized email:

Hello John,

It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you on XYZ project. Together, we built innovative, fully automated platforms for sales teams that made it possible to respond to customers quickly, engage them via various social channels, and check momentarily if the products were in stock. I’m proud that the associates at XYZ loved our platform and reached their sales goals faster, simply by reviewing metrics on their iPads and following suggestions. As I am moving on to new opportunities, I’d love to ask you to write me a brief recommendation on LinkedIn. I appreciate your support along the way – any ideas or introductions are welcome.

Ask for a recommendation at the end of your project completion email:

Finally, if you have a moment, please leave me a LinkedIn recommendation here www.linkedin.com/in/tmykhaylychenko/detail/recommendation/write/ or introduce me to someone in your network who could benefit from my services. I’ll take good care of their documents.

Write a thank you note combined with a request for a recommendation:

Hello Marie,

It has been a great pleasure to work with you at XYZ. I cherish our collaboration on the latest project to equip the team with the platform to track their individual sales goals and engage customers. Thank you for all the support you offered while overcoming deadline pressures! I will be looking for similar roles in retail in the next few weeks. Would you mind sharing some of your observations about the platform’s success and my project management skills, so I could support my applications with verifiable evidence?

Either a letter of recommendation or a LinkedIn recommendation is much appreciated. Here’s my link: [add/detail/recommendation/write/ to your LinkedIn URL.]

I am happy to stay in touch and assist in any way I may. If you can think of anyone in your network who may benefit from my expertise in project management and tech solutions for retail, could you please introduce us? I’ll take great care of their teams.

Recommendations are not only used as traditional letters or blurbs on your LinkedIn profile. Let’s review the various forms they can take in your career portfolio.

Testimonials for Your Website

Ask the colleague if you may use their name, photo, or the initial on the website. Depending on the industry, some of your recommenders may prefer to be highlighted on your website with their credentials, photos, and links. Some may prefer to be anonymous. Either way, a well-written, authentic testimonial is worth posting on the website.

References Sheet

Collect the full contact information of your top 3-5 references in one document. Include their title, physical work address, phone, and email. Mention your relationship to them in the workplace and what key projects you delivered while working with them. Add any details about how they prefer to be contacted.

As my direct supervisor at XYZ, Ms. Smith can speak first-hand of my skills in project management and the team reorganization initiative I executed during the first few months on the job to clear the backlog of projects and improve efficiency.

Format this sheet in line with your resume style (use the same header style, including your contact information) and save it as a PDF. Attach this document along with your application or use it 5 business days after the application to send a follow-up email. Make sure you notify all the references on the list that they may be contacted. Let them know what roles you are applying for and what you have achieved since you last worked together.

Your Email Signature

Choose one of your best short testimonials and add it to your email signature to highlight your professional differentiators.

Testimonials on Your Resume

A common misconception is that a testimonial has to be from a supervisor. It can also be from your client or a subordinate, and it is a good idea to include 2-3 such quotes on your resume if space allows. It is ideal if your testimonials show your different skills: a comment about your leadership style or soft skills; kudos about a specific project with measurable results; or a more general testimonial about your contributions over several years. Place one text box next to your career summary, and one or two more on the second page of your resume, next to the appropriate career entry. Omit last names of references for confidentiality; add their professional title or role in relation to your performance. For example:

“John is a people-focused manager who gained a large following quickly due to his hands-on leadership style and process improvement programs. In every project, he has led by example in integrity, humility, and focus on common goals. Under his guidance, the teams made major progress in accountability and quality of work.” ~Nancy S., CEO, ABC Company.

What if I have a bad reference?

If you know who gave you a negative reference, try to reach out to that individual and discuss the matter in a positive way. Affirm the points of disagreement and the challenges from the past, and emphasize your growth since then. Notify them about what you have done recently to advance in your career.

If you are not sure who gave you a bad reference, order a reference check via a background screening agency. This service usually costs under $100. If the negative references persist, you may get help from the reference agency or an attorney with sending a “cease and desist” letter requesting the leadership to stop providing negative comments and simply confirm employment title, dates, and work duties.

Things to do this week:

Email 3-5 people from past roles and request LI recommendations.

Give several authentic LinkedIn recommendations to people you enjoyed working with.

Request a letter of recommendation from a former supervisor or a colleague.

Listen to this episode of Career Confidante podcast to learn more about choosing and maintaining relationships with your references.

About the author:

Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of ACES: The Society for Editing and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please contact her at tetyanam@gmail.com to schedule a free introductory consultation.

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