LinkedIn Recommendations–The Latest

As I’ve noted several times, including recently, I’m a fan of LinkedIn recommendations, both in an active job search and in ongoing career management. They help you leverage your career success based on the value you have contributed throughout your career and beef up the strength of your LinkedIn profile.

Because LinkedIn keeps changing a lot of its features, I decided to investigate what the process of requesting and giving recommendations currently involves. (Note that this is being posted in October 2013–it might not still apply a week or two from now!)

Provide a LinkedIn Recommendation

Whether on your own initiative or in response to a request, you might want to provide a LinkedIn recommendation for someone you know well. (I never advise doing this for someone you know relatively little about.) After consulting the LinkedIn Help Center, here’s the gist of what I found:

  1. Select Profile-Edit Profile.
  2. Scroll down and select Recommendations and click the pencil icon.
  3. Click Manage Visibility (right side of page, under Your Recommendations).
  4. Click Given and then Make a recommendation. (Note: You can recommend someone who isn’t a connection by entering his/her first and last names and email address.)
  5. Click Colleague, Service Provider, Business Partner or Student and then Continue.
  6. Enter the content for your recommendation.
  7. Click Send.

Request a LinkedIn Recommendation

Despite the current, ongoing emphasis on endorsements, I still strongly urge you to seek recommendations from people who can provide independent verification and validation of the value you have provided as a professional in your field, whether you’re a CEO or Senior Marketing VP or some other function. It isn’t quite as simple as it used to be, but here in a nutshell are LinkedIn’s current steps for requesting a recommendation:

  1. Go to your Privacy and Settings page.
  2. Click Manage your Recommendations (middle of page under Helpful Links).
  3. Click Ask for recommendations (near top of page).
  4. Select a position from the “What do you want to be recommended for?” drop-down list.
  5. For the “Who do you want to ask?” section, put in the names of the connections or click your address book icon to search for connections. (If using your address book, use the Choose Connections view, click the names and then Finished.)
  6. Enter your request in the Create your message section. You have the choice of doing it as-is or customizing; I always recommend customizing your messages.
  7. Click Send.

Bulk Requests for LinkedIn Recommendations

Although LinkedIn allows you to send multiple requests for recommendations in one batch (individual recipients don’t see each other on the request), I advise against doing this–for one simple reason: I believe customizing is a key piece of this process; you don’t want your message to sound as if you just lumped the recipient in with a bunch of other people without considering him/her as a valued individual.

Give as Well as Receive LinkedIn Recommendations

You certainly want to receive recommendations that can help boost your online reputation and visibility. That said, it’s important to give recommendations to others when you can make a positive contribution to their online presence. In fact, some experts say you should offer a recommendation to others that you’d like to receive one from, before you ask them for a recommendation. The premise is that your unsolicited offer will inspire them to reciprocate. If that doesn’t happen, you can still make a direct request.

I don’t know if there’s a “magic” number for recommendations, but I suggest having at least 10 that you can display in your profile. More probably wouldn’t hurt, if they’re really good ones. It’s also good to have recommendations for each of your current and past positions (at least covering the last several years).

Career Boost from Professional Conferences

This might be my shortest blog ever (at least since the first one years ago), but I wanted to get everyone thinking about professional organization memberships and, in particular, professional conferences. If the conference is well designed (keeps members’ needs in mind, for instance), with on-target workshop sessions and plenty of between-session networking opportunities, it can be worth much more than your financial investment.

I just returned from a 3-day conference hosted by Career Directors International (my second since I joined about a year ago). Yes, it was in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney and other attractions, but I didn’t get more than a 15-minute walk from the hotel the whole time I was there. Why? Because the days were packed with valuable information and networking. It will probably take me weeks or months to fully absorb what I learned from it and put what I learned into practice on behalf of current and future clients. The financial investment I made was substantial, as it included airfare coast-to-coast, hotel room (shared with one colleague), the conference registration itself, and the cost to board my two small dogs for several days. Oh, and it also meant–technically, at least–no direct income for the week.

However, it was totally worth every dollar! And, probably not coincidentally, October looks like being one of my best months ever, despite the one-week hiatus.

If you have a chance to join a professional organization and attend one of its conferences, give serious thought to taking advantage of the opportunity. It can be very useful both in leveraging your existing situation for career advancement and in making your current or next job search more productive. Naturally, you’ll want to check out the organization carefully and take a good look at its conference reputation. Does it get favorable–even excited–reviews from previous participants? What does it offer that you probably can’t get or at least can’t get all in one place on your own? And so on.

P.S. I have a big trip planned around mid-2014 for personal reasons, so I’ll be looking hard at possible conference attendance and evaluating it carefully, but the odds are pretty good that I’ll be at CDI again next fall. There’s a good reason for that.

Career Sabotage and Your Comfort Zone

At least once or twice in the past I’ve written about some aspect of career sabotage–that is, when you have sabotaged your own career, not when someone else has done it to you. The topic came to mind again today when I read an article called “5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Career Success” by Avery Augustine.

The thing is, you’re probably more likely to spot it when someone is doing it to you than you are when you are the “culprit.” Why is that? For one thing, because we tend to take for granted the things we do and not question them too closely unless a specific situation or person forces us to. Awareness is critical. We need to be as clued-in as possible to what’s happening that could torpedo our career and take corrective action to prevent it, whether we’re the one doing it or not.

What Are the 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging?

According to Augustine, they are (briefly):

  1. Not Exploring the World Outside Your Department
  2. Not Applying for That Promotion
  3. Talking Yourself Out of an Internal Move
  4. Saying No to Big (but Scary) Opportunities
  5. Refusing to Ask for Feedback

Outside Your Comfort Zone

What do those 5 ways have to do with career sabotage and your comfort zone? Each one of them could easily require you to go outside your comfort zone in some way or other. For example, exploring what’s going on outside your department might involve talking with people you don’t know well about what they’re doing and, maybe, volunteering to help with one of their projects when you have time. Some of you might feel uncomfortable putting yourself forward like that.

It’s pretty much the same with the other four ways to sabotage your career. Here are just a couple of additional examples:

  • You can hesitate to apply for a promotion because (a) you don’t think you have a chance against the competition or (b) you’re not sure you’re up to the challenges you’d face if you got the promotion.
  • You can refuse to solicit feedback on how you’re doing because you’re afraid someone will say “not so good”! Of course, this means you won’t get input that could help you become even better at what you do and thus be able to blow the competition out of the water when you have a chance to apply for that promotion.

No Risk, No Reward

It’s probably true that there’s no reward without some risk. At least, it’s true often enough that it’s worth keeping in mind. Remember, too, that while you might need to go outside your comfort zone to avoid career sabotage–or even to boost your career success, you don’t have to leap off a 500-foot cliff your first time out. As General George Patton once said, “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”

The key here is that you are already incurring a risk by not evaluating what you might be inadvertently doing to sabotage your career and then taking action to correct it. If the goal is worthwhile, remind yourself of that and step outside your comfort zone to achieve it, if that’s what it takes.

P.S. I might not be doing any posts next week (October 14-18) because I’ll be preparing for and attending a professional careers-related conference for a few days, put on by Career Directors International. However, I expect to come back with plenty of food for thought and maybe the idea for a blog post or two!

Leave My Job Now? Are You Crazy?

Here we are at the beginning of October, with the end-of-the-year holiday period not quite staring us in the face but close enough to inspire some thought about what’s next for us. If someone said to you now, “You should consider leaving your current job in the near future,” would your reaction be “Leave my job now? Are you crazy?!!!”

Mind you, I’m not exactly advocating that you should leap into the unknown and chuck your current job (if you have one) without having something else (better) already lined up. I believe in taking calculated risks, but that’s not one. I’d describe that as not much better than sticking your finger in a flame to see if it hurts!

On the other hand, as I’ve noted before, a lot of you are less than thrilled with your current employment situation, and some of you might be downright miserable in it. That said, I don’t recommend stewing about it for the remaining 3 months or so of this year. Think about it, yes, but then start putting some plans into action.

Considering a Career Change

Maybe you’re already considering a change but thinking in terms of changing careers and not just your current job. If so, you’re not alone. According to a MoneyWatch post by Margaret Heffernan, titled “Thinking of a career change? Don’t delay,” there’s a lot to be said for making a change sooner rather than later.

As Heffernan says, “Everyone I’ve ever known who made a big transition had left it later than they should. Between mild discontent and raging frustration, about a year of unproductive ambivalence passed. Afterwards, when a jump has been successfully negotiated, everyone looked back and asked, what took me so long?”

Choose the Timing to Leave Your Job

As long as you have the option (you’re not facing a mandated job change/loss), you can choose the timing for leaving your current job, at least to some extent. Maybe it’s not a great idea to target a change before the end of this year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t set things in motion, especially since events don’t always move as quickly as you might think or hope. If you use the coming months to prepare wisely, you’ll be in a much better place for making the change early in the new year–I can almost guarantee that.

And who knows? You might be surprised to find a new opportunity staring you in the face much faster than you expected, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that–as long as you’ve done your homework and preparation as thoroughly as you should, so you’re poised to respond appropriately. For example, if you’re considering the possibility of a geographical relocation and that would mean things like selling your current home and finding a new one in the new area, that’s not a small task to accomplish over a holiday period. You’ll need to have your ducks in a row as much as you can before that occurs.

Whatever happens, avoid letting job or career frustration drive you to a premature job departure. You might get really lucky and have it work out okay, but maybe not. Make sure you’re doing it at the right time and for the right reasons.