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June 2013

5 key ingredients to a successful LinkedIn recommendation request

LI_recommendations2

Recommendations for your past work are one of the most powerful inclusions to have on your LinkedIn profile. But it's not enough to do great work and wait for the recommendations and endorsements to flow in. Typically, you are going to need to ask for them. But just making a general request for a recommendation using the LinkedIn boilerplate copy is not enough. What you ask, and how you ask it, will determine how likely you are to get a reply -- and a useful recommendation for your profile.

5 steps to follow when asking for LinkedIn recommendations

Step 1: Decide on one project or role to target

Although it may be tempting to send out dozens of requests, covering every position listed on your LinkedIn profile, resist that temptation! You'll get better recommendations if you keep focused. Start with the role or project that you are most proud of, and that exemplifies the kind of work you'd like to do more of. Now, break down that role into the core competencies you demonstrated, and your key accomplishments. WIth this list in hand, you're ready for the next step.

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How to identify and assess your core competencies

When starting out in your portfolio career, it's tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way, just to ensure a steady income stream. But is that really the best use of your time and efforts? Chances are, if you take on every project that comes your way, you'll inevitably end up taking on  projects that don't make the most of your skills and interests. Given that your most recent projects are what is most likely to lead to your next opportunity, it's important to ensure you keep focused on work that makes the most of your key competencies.

By defining your core competencies and actively going after projects and roles that make the most of them, you will:

  • develop expertise in the areas that matter the most to your customers. 
  • have a path for developing your skills in support of reaching your business goals

Identifying your core competencies

Core_CompetenciesWhat are core competencies?

Lets start by defining what a core competency is in a business setting. A core competency is a specific factor that is central to the way a company and its employees work. It must fulfill three key criteria:

  1. It is difficult for competitors to imitate.
  2. It can be applied widely across many products and markets.
  3. It contributes to the end consumer's experienced benefits. 

Taking this into a real life example, if you are a social media consultant, your core competencies might look like the above illustration. You'll note that these competencies fall into three buckets: functional (which includes unique technical expertise), personal (the areas in which you excel), and leadership (how your competencies interact with managing others.)

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How to use a portfolio career as an asset when applying for jobs

Portfolio_career_benefits

One of the small complications of being a portfolio careerist is figuring out how to present your overlapping permanent positions and short-term projects on your resume, and then talking them through in an interview situation. 

Chances are, if you are applying for a position at an established, large organization, your recruiter is likely to start asking questions to the effect of "Are you going to use your time on the clock for us and our resources to pursue outside unrelated projects?" Which is why you need to head off that line of questioning at the pass by incorporating your portfolio career as part of the pitch for why you're the right hire for the position. Having been through this conversation a number of times over the course of my career, I've found the key factors for navigating this topic successfully are:

  • being transparent about your overlapping projects
  • reinforcing what you learned from the projects
  • clarifying what overlapping projects, if any, you have at the moment
  • ensuring you gain understanding from the recruiter and the hiring manager on the organization's policies about concurrent projects

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Evolving your CV into a results-oriented resume

CV example with markupAre you still using a curriculum vitae (CV) to apply for corporate positions in the U.S.? If so, you may be selling yourself short.

Although the factual, comprehensive CV is still alive and well in academia and in other parts of the world, it typically doesn't do a good enough job of selling an employer in the U.S. on why you -- and not the hundred other applicants for the position -- should be called up for an interview. But the good news is, your CV provides a great base from which to construct a results-oriented resume.

Overcoming the hurdles

That said, I've seen two recurring hurdles when working with professionals in transitioning from a CV to a results-oriented resume: 1)  getting over feeling uncomfortable about self-promotion and 2) finding the right results and accomplishments to focus on. So lets start by focusing on overcoming those hurdles.

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