Make LinkedIn References Count
Sometime during the job search process, every executive is asked for references from a potential employer. Before 2004ish employers asked for references from the executive at the end of the interview and before extending an employment offer. Fast-forward 10 years—today references may be checked before an interview. LinkedIn Reference feature makes this easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to see what people are saying about their professional relationship with you without having to ask.

LinkedIn references impact a job search in two ways:

1. References have moved from last to first step in the hiring process. Employers and recruiters have access to your references at the beginning of the hiring process, rather than obtaining them just before a hiring choice is made. Recruiters and hiring managers can see right away how significant you have been to people and organizations in your network.

2. References have more value than endorsements. Endorsements can be misused as anyone can endorse a LinkedIn member without their permission and that endorsement just shows up in the profile. References that are listed in an executive’s profile must be approved by that LinkedIn member before it appears in the profile stream. While highlighting skills is nice, a well-written reference has more influence over recruiters and hiring managers.

The “care and feeding” of recommendations is essential to have an influential LinkedIn profile. Four tips for creating and obtaining great recommendations:

1. Value. Giving recommendations shows you are a person interested in helping others, a key characteristic of a good executive. When you take time to recommend someone, they in turn are more likely to recommend you.

2. What should be said. Be specific in your message, expressing how you know the person, length of time of your relationship, what he or she did to impress you, and the significance that person brought to the team, department, or employer. These elements should be used for giving and receiving recommendations.

3. The ‘how to.’ While in your LinkedIn Profile click on “edit profile” from the profile tab. Scroll down in that screen to the recommendations section located toward the bottom. Click the little pencil icon located on the right-hand side and it will open screens to navigate through managing visibility, ability to choose a contact you want to recommend, and finally the place to write the recommendation. Don’t forget to send it off to the contact you are recommending so they can approve it to show up in their profile.

4. Refresh contact relationships. Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves. Writing a recommendation for someone you haven’t seen or worked with in a while can do wonders to revive or reconnect that relationship. Giving recommendations without being asked also shows that you are willing to ‘give’ first.