Just how important are LinkedIn recommendations? No one outside of LinkedIn’s leadership can answer that question definitively, but since this function continues to exist long after other features have gone the way of the dodo bird, I think it’s safe to assume that LinkedIn and its clients (namely recruiters and hiring companies) find them helpful.
I have repeatedly asked all the recruiters I know what they think of recommendations, and they generally say some version of the same thing: “LinkedIn recommendations won’t make or break someone’s candidacy, but I consistently read them and attest that my opinion of a candidate can be shaped by them.”
If there is any chance at all that recommendations can shape a recruiter’s or hiring executive’s opinion of your candidacy, then they are worth pursuing in a strategic way.
While we don’t know the search algorithm LinkedIn uses to analyze candidate profiles on behalf of recruiters and hiring executives, we do know that keywords play a key role. Keywords are also critical in shaping the perceptions of recruiters and hiring managers.
To see what I’m driving at, try this quick experiment. Select a keyword that you are skilled in – let’s say “B2B sales.” Input that example in the search line at the top of your screen on LinkedIn. Your search will turn up profiles with that keyword highlighted each time it is used. Now, here’s the important thing to notice: LinkedIn also highlights this keyword in the recommendations section of each profile in your search results.
Which brings me to the issue of how supercharge your profile via the recommendations sections. There are three simple steps to take:
1. Weave industry-specific keywords into each recommendation you receive.
- Select 1-3 (no more) critical keywords for your industry that you already stress throughout your profile.
- Identify a specific problem, project, challenge, or initiative you worked on which clearly demonstrates these skills.
- When you request or are offered a recommendation, request that they focus their comments on the 1-3 keywords you selected above and use the problem, project, or initiative you identified as the focal point for their recommendation.
- Review the recommendation when it’s received. Request text changes if needed to tighten the keyword and achievement content. Make sure specific results are included if at all possible. Ask the recommender to accept the changes and then add the recommendation to your profile.
- For recommendations you have already received, review them to see where specific key skills or projects can be added to deepen the content’s relevance to your career goals.
- Why is this step important? Because LinkedIn counts keywords used in recommendations when they rank order your profile in recruiter and company search results. Using your strongest keywords in recommendations is a hidden way to boost your profile ranking and cultivate more career opportunities.
Only accept and give recommendations from people that you actually know or have worked with.