With social media taking an increasingly important role in finding the right career move and in being found by employers the influence of recommendations and endorsements is becoming hugely significant.
I have always tried to be honest, immediate and generous with my comments about people that I have worked with, networked with, met informally and rated. Obviously it is easier if you have worked with someone for a period of time to write something very competency based and referenced into actual roles the person involved has performed. But in my experience quality and potential both shout loud when you know what to look for.
I am sure that the old adage of people buying from people applies here and that trusted, experienced and well known people in your chosen field are gold dust as recommendations. Why? Well two main reasons, first they know quality when they see it because they have experience of what it looks like, sounds like and starts out being like and second and perhaps even more importantly they will not associate their brand with an individual who will disappoint, fail to achieve or not live up to expectations.
So you are perhaps either starting out on your career or looking to gain an upward move or sector change; how do you reinforce what you have in terms of qualifications, attributes, competencies and skills in terms of underpinning recommendations / references from the right people? Themes I have talked about in past blogs about likeYou never know who the right person to network with is and Always being on duty for your brand are particularly relevant here. Always being at your best in networking, job or socially related situations gives those key people that you bump into along the way every reason to see the best in you and want to tell others about it. Being interesting and interested and memorable for the right reasons will all give you a fighting chance of leaving positive impressions however short the encounter.
Linked In is perhaps a prime example of where this is most relevant in terms of social media. The programme prompts your connections to either endorse you for a skill or experience as well as giving them an opportunity to recommend you. Recruiters (internal and external) increasingly use Linked In as a source of reassurance on candidates through the medium of these two sources of information to influence how they view you.
Not on Linked In? Well you need to sort that out pretty sharpish! The fact that you have a presence on the platform and most importantly keep the profile up to date and full of information says to potentially interested parties that you are serious about your career and that you know what it takes to get spotted. The absence of a profile when someone searches for you may even be the end of the search. With a growing number of connections comes increased chance of positive endorsements and recommendations and allows people like me to say good things about you. You also have the option of asking for recommendations..
I know that perhaps culturally this might feel a bit awkward. Asking someone to tell the world how brilliant you are feels wrong in some way..but if the rest of the world is doing it and gets results from it then you don't really have a choice in a competitive labour market do you? Obviously just as you might not connect with a complete stranger you should only ask those who you know will recall you, know enough to say good things and whose opinion carries weight.
That's why when you network you should always make a note of people that you have chatted to and connected with - you never know when you can leverage against that relationship. People who are in positions of responsibility, power, authority however you chose to describe them; are often incredibly generous with their recommendations. That is why when you leave education, employment or even a training event you should focus on who you should ask if they would mind offering a recommendation for you. Building relationships towards the gift of a recommendation is a skill of course and you need to have performed at a level that you would want others to know about but this stuff is important as it offers a rich back drop of reassuring opinion about you from people that the people making decisions about you will read, listen to and allow to inform their decision.
Marketing the brand of you is a multi layered task and the layer of recommendations is a key part in making sure that anyone you want to /need to impress can find opinion from others that under pins how fantastic you are!
Copyright Paul Goring 2014
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