Most of us have worked with great colleagues, bosses and employees over the years who we’d be happy to recommend on LinkedIn (or anywhere, really) in a heartbeat if asked.
Problem is, of course, that sitting down and writing said recommendation always takes more time than you think it will. What should you say that will make your contact stand out — but still sound genuine? Should you describe every amazing skill this person has — or keep it short and sweet?
Don’t worry. We’ve turned that daunting task into a five-step (and five-minute) process. Next time you’re asked to recommend someone, follow this template (complete with sample lines to cut and paste.
As with any good writing, you want to start with a line that grabs your audience and makes them want to read more. (After all, what good is a great recommendation if no one reads all the way through?)
Ideally, this line will show right away what an awesome person your recommendee is. Be careful, though, to avoid phrases like “one of the best” or “one of my favorite employees” — while, no, not everyone’s going to be the ultimate superlative, there are plenty of words and phrases that sound just as strong, but less qualified.
“It’s rare that you come across standout talent like Mike.”
“‘Ridiculously efficient’ is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about Tim.”
Describe Your Relationship,
Next, you’ll want to give the reader some context as to how you know the person, including your reporting relationship, what you worked on together and the length of time you’ve known each other. While you don’t have to give all the details (LinkedIn will show the company and both of your job titles on your recommendation), it’s important to let readers know why you’re qualified to give the recommendation. (And, of course, be sure to note that it was a positive working relationship.)
“I had the pleasure of working with Jim for two years at the Smith Company, collaborating on several project teams.”
“I hired Carrie as a freelance designer in 2011 after seeing her online portfolio, and she’s completed six flawless projects for me since then.”
“Mark expertly filled the role of social media coordinator for my company’s marketing team for just over a year.”
Share a Standout Trait,
If you’re recommending someone, there’s a good chance you think he or she is smart, talented, organized, wonderful to work with, the list goes on. So, there’s no need to use the limited characters in your recommendation to state the obvious.
Instead, think about one or two things this person does better than anything else — or that really stand out to you above others — and focus your recommendation there. You can also ask the person if there’s something he or she would like you to talk about: For example, if she was your executive assistant but is now applying to her first management role, she’ll likely want you to highlight her experience managing volunteers over her organizational skills.
“I was particularly impressed by Kelly’s ability to handle even the toughest clients — and effortlessly. That skill often takes years to develop among customer service professionals, but it seemed to come perfectly naturally to her.”
“I was always in awe of Fred’s ability to command a room and get people on board with ideas — even people who were initially on completely different pages.”
“Matt’s ability to juggle multiple projects was unlike any I’ve seen before and made a dramatic difference in the productivity level of our team.”
Add a Touch of Personality,
Let’s face it: Everyone wants to hire someone who not only gets the job done, but who’s also great to work with. So, if you can share a tidbit about what it’s like to work with this person or some insight into his or her personality, do so! (Just, you know, know your audience. “Sophie planned the best office happy hours ever!” might not go over so well with her future employers.)
“Oh, and she made sure our Monday morning staff meetings were never without bagels and coffee. Talk about motivating a team!”
“And we still miss her on the office softball league!”
“No matter how tense a meeting, Annie made sure everyone left with a smile.”
End With Your Solid Recommendation,
Finally, it’s always nice to seal your recommendation with a final line that makes it clear that you give your contact an enthusiastic thumbs-up. You don’t need to do much here — think short, sweet and solid.
“Allison would be an asset to any team.”
“As a team member or a leader, Steve earns my highest recommendation.”
“Any employee would be lucky to have Michelle as a manager.”
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
You know the drill. You’re unhappy in your current job — or unhappy with no job — and are desperately updating your LinkedIn profile that hasn’t been touched since the last time you were in this situation.
Well, you’re not alone; this sums up the dysfunctional relationship many professionals have with their LinkedIn profiles. While some flock to LinkedIn only when in need and apply to already posted positions, the platform is at its best when maintained regularly and optimized to allow hiring managers to reach out to you. LinkedIn’s career expert Nicole Williams helps elaborate on six ways to optimize your profile and attract more recruiters to you now.
Develop a Keyword Strategy,
If search engine optimization is not your expertise, here is a mini lesson. LinkedIn’s search functionality makes it easy to find people by their name, skills and any other words that appear in their profile — which is why these words should be chosen with thought. First, make a list of terms associated with your skills and experience. Ask yourself, “What words would someone search for to find me?” If strapped for terms, seek inspiration from a job positing you are interested in.
Next, take those terms and rework them from the perspective of a searching recruiter. For example, you may have the term “digital strategy” in your LinkedIn profile; however, a recruiter would be more likely to search for the term “digital strategist.” Synonyms are also important; you never know if recruiters will search for “digital,” “online” or “Internet,” so include them all. Lastly, you want to organically incorporate these key terms into your profile to attract both the search engine and human reader alike.
Williams says that “hiring managers are seven times more likely to view your profile if you have a photo; it’s a must have.”
Not only does a photo allow your profile to stand out in the search results, but also shows recruiters that you are active on the network and LinkedIn is a viable way to contact you. Williams suggests using a photo that places you in the context of your job. You want to help hiring managers envision you in that position.
“If you are a chef, feel free to show yourself in a kitchen, or in front of a whiteboard if you are a marketer,” Williams says. “But don’t use a picture of yourself with your dog, unless you’re a veterinarian.”
Williams also prompts all passive and active job seekers to claim their vanity URL. This is a customized URL that drives directly to your profile.
“Using your name in your vanity URL gives it a chance to appear in a Google when someone searches for you,” says Williams.
This makes it easier for hiring managers to find you and share your information with other hiring managers. If your preferred vanity URL is already claimed, incorporate a relevant key term, for example http://www.linkedin.com/in/CarlySimonSinger.
Trestle up Esteems,
Solicit recommendations from people you have worked for or with. “Make a strategic plan for your recommendations,” says Williams. “Approach different people and suggest particular skills or experiences you would like them to highlight.”
This strategy helps provide hiring managers with a more holistic view of you and your past work. However, the most important part of the recommendation is not necessarily the content, but that it exists at all. It shows that someone was willing to take the time to personally vouch for you.
The more connections you have on LinkedIn the more likely you are to come up in a hiring manager’s search results. Strategically identify people you’d like to be linked to and approach them with a custom connection request.
“The biggest mistakes users make is asking for too much in the first request,” says Williams. LinkedIn are no different than connections in real life. “Find an affinity you have in common, ask a question, but don’t ask for a job in the first connection.”
Groups work similarly and if you and a recruiter are in the same group, you can rise to the top of their search results. Join groups that are relevant to the industry you are in and a few recruiters in your field will most likely be members as well.
Now Share with your Connections,
“Don’t just set up your profile; actively engage in LinkedIn,” says Williams. Share useful content or comment on the shared content of others to make your profile more viewable. Interacting with others on the platform not only makes you visible to them, but also their connections.
If you don’t have time to scour the Internet for shareable content, Williams suggests leveraging LinkedIn Today, a feature that allows you to receive the most read news on your chosen topics. Choose one story per day from that feed and not only will it help you in your current job, but it might catch the eye of a hiring manager for a future position.
LinkedIn launched in 2003 as the social network of choice for professionals, and as a landmark of sorts for those who wanted an online space for their resume.
Since then, the platform has grown to more than 225 million users across the world, who use LinkedIn not only as a place to showcase career skills and ambitions, but also to have conversations around specific topics in the more than 1.8 million groups, look for new jobs and get news about their areas of interest.
When LinkedIn Today launched in 2011, it marked a major shift in how users would interact with the platform, and also quickly transformed LinkedIn into a publishing powerhouse. This was reinforced with the introduction of LinkedIn Influencers, a feature that gives hundreds of the world’s top thought leaders a forum through which share their professional insights with the network.
Although many of these updates in publishing strategy have notably benefited media organizations and well-known individuals, many entrepreneurs and business owners have also seen great opportunities for sharing their own content.
“If you’re an entrepreneur, and you only have time for one social network, I would choose LinkedIn over any other,”
“If you’re an entrepreneur, and you only have time for one social network, I would choose LinkedIn over any other,” says Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Local, a social media software startup for small businesses, and a LinkedIn Influencer with roughly 220,000 followers. “LinkedIn will undoubtedly give you the biggest bang for your buck.”
For entrepreneurs who are looking to make a bigger splash on LinkedIn, these four strategies will help get you on the right path.
Do the Basics,
With LinkedIn’s many groups, updated publishing features and new content tools, there are a variety of options for entrepreneurs who want to be more active on LinkedIn. But individuals should still be cognizant of how their overall profiles look to other users on the network.
For those who have been lurkers on LinkedIn, just adding a profile picture to your account, for example, makes your profile seven times more likely to be viewed by others, according to LinkedIn data.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort to maintain your profile,” says Alexis Grant, founder of Socialexis, a digital strategy company for small businesses. “Once you’ve done that initial foundation building, you can get a big return without doing much.”
But beyond filling out a profile with a powerful, keyword-filled summary, as well as skills and experiences, entrepreneurs should strongly consider the type of content they share to LinkedIn, much as they would with Facebook or Twitter, Kerpen says.
“I use LinkedIn as a way to distribute great content, and I usually share six to eight updates on LinkedIn each day,” he says. “I’ve only gotten feedback from one person out of my 218,000 followers and more than 10,000 connections that I share too much.”
So what status updates perform well on the social network? “I share inspirational quotes and links to articles, both that I or my company has written or that I come across, that I think will be helpful,” Kerpen notes. “I read everything that I share because I believe I have a responsibility to share good, useful content.”
For entrepreneurs, LinkedIn Groups can be a valuable opportunity to join vibrant conversations and identify valuable connections, but it can also damage your brand by marketing yourself too much.
“Groups are the main feature I use on LinkedIn,” says Grant. “But some of those groups can get a little too noisy to share valuable information.”
“You just have to make sure you’re adding true value to these groups,” Kerpen adds.
“You see a lot of people posting inappropriate content or trying to promote themselves too much.”
“You see a lot of people posting inappropriate content or trying to promote themselves too much.”
To control the conversation, as opposed to lending a voice to a noisy conversation, some entrepreneurs have created their own LinkedIn Groups around their business area or backgrounds.
“If there’s a gap in the conversation to create a niche group, I think it’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners,” Grant says. “And if you own a group, you can send [announcements] to group members.”
That point may be most appealing to entrepreneurs –- the ability to send messages to group members in a form of an announcement. While you may not be able to brand these messages much like a custom newsletter, they could help spread your message and content to potential clients and customers at no cost to you or your business.
Don’t Underestimate the Influence of SlideShare,
LinkedIn acquired professional content sharing platform SlideShare in 2012. The purchase not only made sense from a user base perspective –- SlideShare sees more than 50 million unique visitors each month -– but the platform, which allows users to upload and share presentations, infographics and videos, adds a much-needed visual element to the very text-heavy LinkedIn site.
But SlideShare offers entrepreneurs on LinkedIn much more than just a visual element. “SlideShare has been the most powerful professional tool I have ever used,”
“SlideShare has been the most powerful professional tool I have ever used,” says Tara Hunt, a LinkedIn Influencer and co-founder of the social strategy firm Lime Foundry. “SlideShare is all of the smart things you have to say about a topic in one clickable deck.”
SlideShare has helped Hunt improve her presentations, too. “I would never have talking points on my slides,” she notes. “It would be 26 pages of images that would serve as visual cues during a live presentation. My decks are now able to be standalones on the platform.”
And Slideshare can be a major business driver for some entrepreneurs, Likeable Local’s Kerpen says. “The number one and number two business drivers for my companies are SlideShare and LinkedIn.”
Get hang of the Power of Being a LinkedIn’s Bellwether,
There are now more than 300 LinkedIn Influencers, which is comprised of some of the world’s top thought leaders across a variety of industries. When promoted through the LinkedIn Today news platform, longform posts from these Influencers can have a wide reach.
In fact, the average Influencer post gets up to 25,000 views and nearly 100 comments. “The LinkedIn Influencer program allows thought leaders to have an even wider distribution platform on LinkedIn,” Kerpen says. “Through this and LinkedIn Today, LinkedIn has built a publishing platform like we’ve never seen.”
For entrepreneurs who are starting new companies or partnerships, the LinkedIn Influencer program “is a great platform to expand the reach” of the brand’s message, Hunt says. “You’re looked at as an authority on the matter, so you get a sort of social boost with that.”
Although LinkedIn is not accepting applications for new Influencers at this time, you don’t need to be a part of this program to have a major impact on LinkedIn, Kerpen notes.
“The only major difference is that the LinkedIn Influencer program gives me a longer-form opportunity and a wider distribution network,” he adds. “I don’t mean to take these two for granted, but everyone can share original content on this network.”
LinkedIn rolled out a pair of new mobile recruiting tools on Wednesday, building out the company’s mobile presence to accommodate the 33% of users who visit the site using smartphones.
LinkedIn announced Recruiter Mobile at the company’s Talent Connect conference in Las Vegas. The app brings all of the features offered to job recruiters on the desktop version of the site to the mobile device. Recruiters can track updates on job openings and also get feedback from hiring managers on potential candidates while using their smartphone.
The app also allows recruiters to send InMail messages, call potential candidates and even take notes during that call within the app.
LinkedIn also released “Mobile Work With Us,” a new feature for the existing mobile app that will post a company’s job openings at the top of its employees’ profiles. That way when mobile users click to view a friend’s or colleague’s profile, relevant job openings with his or her company will appear at the top of the screen. On the company’s blog post, LinkedIn refers to this feature as “one of the best ways to reach passive candidates.”
LinkedIn has been working to spruce up its mobile offering to make job hunting and applying simpler over the phone. It released an updated version of its iOS app earlier this month for iOS 7, and has added features like endorsements to its native mobile apps, too.
The new LinkedIn recruiter app is available in the App Store for iOS users, and non-iPhone users can download it from LinkedIn’s web browser, according to the blog post.
The apps are aimed primarily at talent seekers and hiring managers — those who make up the largest part of the company’s business. LinkedIn Recruiter Mobile, for instance, brings the professional network’s recruiting products to the iPhone.
It’s essentially a mobile-focused port of the company’s desktop Recruiter product, allowing hiring managers to keep track of, take notes on and reach out to prospective job candidates from their phone. The other release, “Mobile Work With Us,” is pretty much an ad-like product that lets employers stick job openings on top of their own employees’ profiles to lure outside candidates.
The point of all this is simple: 33 percent of LinkedIn’s unique visits come from mobile, a number that’s only been slowly trending upward over the past two years. If LinkedIn wants to keep its money-making recruiting business chugging along nicely, it’s probably a good idea to bring it to the phone.
Not that the company has ignored the desktop. In April, LinkedIn gave Recruiter a complete design refresh, putting the emphasis on search. The new mobile app is free for those who pay for LinkedIn’s Recruiting service, and is available for the iPhone beginning immediately.
During her three years at Facebook, Jhaveri led marketing for the company’s platform and credits products, as well as the preferred marketing developers program. She also spent seven years in marketing at Microsoft, and a year at Apple on the Macbook marketing team.
Most recently, Jhaveri launched the marketing campaign for the debut of Facebook Home, the social giant’s Facebook-centric software effort for Android smartphones, including coordinating with mobile partners HTC and AT&T.
“Kate was a valuable member of Facebook’s team and we wish her the best of luck in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD. She begins her first day of work at Twitter on Tuesday ( ie, from today ), where she will report to head of marketing and communications Gabriel Stricker. Twitter has poached Facebook’s head of consumer and mobile marketing, Kate Jhaveri, according to a report.
Jhaveri will join Twitter as senior director of consumer marketing, according to AllThingsD. Reps from Twitter and Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment. A Twitter account purported to be Jhaveri’s but not verified tweeted the following Friday afternoon:
Jhaveri, pictured below, joined Facebook in August 2010 and stopped working at the company sometime this month, according to her LinkedIn profile. She had previously served as consumer and online marketing director at Microsoft.
Twitter’s General Counsel Alexander Macgillivray also announced he was leaving the company. Macgillivray tweeted about his move after a story in AllThingsD appeared.
While it’s crucial to do the right things in a job search, it’s also important to avoid making common mistakes. Here are the top five missteps to avoid — and how LinkedIn can help you overcome them:
Mistake 1!: Being uninformed
Companies today want employees who can hit the ground running, and that means knowing as much as possible about what that company does, who its competitors are and what’s happening in its overall industry.
Beyond thoroughly researching the employer’s own website, you should follow that organization’s Company Page on LinkedIn. Pay special attention to current news the company is posting (which can provide ideas for specific questions to ask during networking conversations and formal job interviews) and the “Products & Services” page, which provides a cheat sheet to the company’s overall structure and offerings.
For general insight into an employer’s industry, subscribe to that industry’s LinkedIn Channel and join a few LinkedIn Groups in that field to get a sense of what industry insiders are talking about. Not sure which groups will be most valuable? Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people who work for your dream employer and join the groups they belong to.
Mistake 2!: Losing touch
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through networking. This means that every member of your network should be cherished; any lost connection is potentially a lost opportunity.
You can use LinkedIn Contacts to manage all of your existing connections and integrate them with your daily calendar. This means you’ll never miss an opportunity to congratulate someone on a new job or follow up on a recent meeting. Scan through your LinkedIn feed on a daily basis, too, to look for opportunities to comment on people’s status updates and the news they share. Even a simple “like” on an article someone has posted can lead to a chat, which can lead to an opportunity.
To reengage with people you’ve lost touch with, check out the alumni groups of any corporations you’ve worked for and the LinkedIn Alumni tool to search for former university classmates, then send InMails or customized LinkedIn connection requests. The best way to avoid any potential awkwardness with a long lost contact is to read that person’s LinkedIn profile thoroughly before reaching out, and then mention something specific in your outreach to show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in knowing that person again. For example:
I came across your LinkedIn profile in the Intel alumni group and wanted to get back in touch. It’s terrific to see that you’ve launched your own consulting business! I remember that was a goal of yours. As for me, I’m still working in software sales and am looking to make a transition back to the East Coast. I’d love to reconnect, catch up and perhaps see if we might assist each other. Would you like to chat by phone sometime in the next few weeks?
Thanks and all the best,
Mistake 3!: Using uncommon words
Here’s an example of a mistake I see frequently: wanting to be unique and creative, an aspiring writer will create the LinkedIn headline, “Passionate and clever wordsmith.” That’s great, but when someone is looking to hire a writer, he or she is most likely to search with the word “writer.” Don’t get too fancy!
Recruiters, in particular, use keywords to find talent, so it’s important to research the keywords that a recruiter might be using to find someone with your particular skills. If you’re not sure what keywords to include in your headline and throughout your profile, scan through the job listings that appeal to you. Recruiters have likely provided you with the exact words they want. To test whether or not you are attracting the right people (including recruiters) to your profile, check out your Who’s Viewed Your Profile stats. In particular, check out the listing of keywords that people used to arrive at your profile. If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to adjust the words you are using to describe yourself.
Mistake 4!: Telling not showing
In today’s multimedia world, it’s no longer enough to have a list of bullet points on a resume explaining your fabulousness. More and more, employers want to see actual examples of the work you’ve accomplished, such as PowerPoint slides of presentations you’ve created, videos of speeches you’ve given, photographs of products you’ve designed, examples of code you’ve written and other visuals depending on your industry and job function.
It’s no secret that jobs can get filled quickly in today’s competitive economy, so don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to submit your application. In my opinion, you should apply for a position within 12 to 24 hours of discovering it. (This means, of course, that you have already invested the time in creating an All-Star-level LinkedIn profile and have drafted template cover letters that you can quickly customize for each position).
To summarize, a successful job search requires research, relationships, attention to detail and action. There are never any guarantees in a tough job market, but if you avoid the common mistakes listed above, you’re sure to be way ahead of the competition.
Millennials live and breathe on social media, so teachers are learning how to incorporate the medium into the classroom successfully. In doing so, teachers not only encourage students to engage actively in the material, but they also provide online communities for students that might not exist for them in real life.
But how are teachers infusing social media into their everyday lessons? We’ve highlighted several different examples and offered our own ideas on how to best engage students.
Encourage students to share there work socially,
Anna Divinsky created an iTunes U class at Penn State University called Art 10: Introduction to Visual Studies, which she then adapted into a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera. The MOOC, called Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques, amassed more than 58,000 students. For each class assignment, students were responsible for evaluating each other’s work. Because the class was online, social media played an essential role in connecting students and creating an online community.
Students shared their work on a variety of platforms. On Flickr, they tagged their artwork with “artmooc.” On Twitter, they included the #artmooc hashtag. Others posted to Facebook, and continue to do so to this day, even though the course has been over for quite sometime. “It was fascinating to see learners from all over the world wanting to connect with one another in order to build a sense of community,” Divinsky says.
But what was even more surprising was how social media allows students to self-organize into smaller, independent groups. These groups were based on commonalities like age, language and art proficiency levels. By allowing students to share on the site of their choosing, social sharing will come more naturally.
Use a hashtag to facilitate guest speaker discussions,
According to a recent YPulse survey, 21% of Millennials use Twitter as their primary source for finding news. Encouraging students to engage with guest speakers via Twitter makes them more engaged with the platform and prepares them to raise important questions online.
During an investigative journalism class at New York University, one professor invited prominent journalists to come speak to the class of more than 200 people, and encouraged students to live-tweet the interview using the hashtag #IJNYU. Because the class was so big and the tweets so frequent, the hashtag occasionally became a trending topic in New York City. Students were then required to turn in a Storify summary based on their classmates’ tweets, within 24 hours.
Another way to incorporate hashtags during classroom discussions is to encourage students to tweet questions to a guest speaker as the speaker is talking. This is exactly what Mara Einstein and Chad Boettcher did for NYU’s Innovations in Marketing class. This method ensures that students don’t interrupt the speaker while he or she is talking. More importantly, however, is that it also engages the students’ social communities outside of the classroom, so people who aren’t taking the class can also chime-in with questions for the guest speaker.
Request students to maintain a blog,
While teaching The Business of Media, another class at NYU, Ted Magner required students to keep a “trends” blog on the media sector of their choosing. Not only did this activity keep the students reading relevant articles every day, but it also required them to become familiar with hyperlinks, image embeds and how to cite sources digitally. Perhaps most importantly, it gave them material to include in portfolios after graduation.
Keeping a blog is a phenomenal way to work on your voice as a writer, and to truly explore and hone in on your personal interests. However, between essays and homework assignments, many college and high school students see blogging as more of a chore than a positive career move. By requiring students to keep a blog in place of some traditional assignments, you make your job as a teacher easier, and you help them establish their digital presence as an emerging thought leader.
Require original expert sources,
For journalists, LinkedIn has proven to be an invaluable tool to reach out to sources, from CEOs to corporate PR representatives. Teachers can foster this skill by encouraging students to reach out to sources directly through LinkedIn.
It should be noted, however, that free accounts on LinkedIn are mostly intended to be used for professional networking. Features that come with a LinkedIn Premium subscription may make the source-gathering process easier.
Use Google Hangouts,
If you’re teaching remotely, or if you’re teaching an online class, Google Hangouts can be a great way to check in with students face-to-face.
This is also a good option for adjunct professors who wish to conduct office hours but may not be on campus often enough to meet with all of their students.
Create a Edmodo social classroom,
Edmodo helps you create a social, digital classroom. On Edmodo, you can vote, post assignments, create a class assignments calendar, and upload photos and messages to students.
With more 17 million users, Edmodo has been a highly successful endeavor. It allows students to get real-time feedback by taking quizzes online. Teachers can also engage socially with one another by sharing lesson plans online and asking questions to their online communities.
Edmodo’s Global Read Aloud program encourages students to practice their reading and public speaking skills with other students from around the world.
Hold a class in Second Life,
For the class Philosophy of Cyberspace at Northwestern University, students created accounts on Second Life to explore themes such as online identity, online community building and in-game economics.
Some days the students would meet in the virtual world instead of meeting at a real-life lecture hall. The professor would send out an email saying, “Class on Tuesday will be held in Second Life instead of the lecture hall. I’ll email you all the coordinates soon.”