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How to recommend in LinkedIn

You may experience a moment of unsurpassed seniority, supreme power and strength...

Fri, Jun 14 2013

Illustration: Rajat Dey

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About Rajat

Rajat loves doing ’stuff’ on the computer. In his spare (read: rare) time he does a bit of ’this’ and a bit of ’that’. Internet, social media and technology fascinates him. The mish-mash of IT, sociology, economy, geography, time and distance constitues his main subject of study.

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Recommendation in Hindi is ‘Sifarish’ and 'Suparish' in Bengali. In ancient India, recommendation (or Suparish) was not considered to be a gentleman’s practice. In old Bollywood movies our hero would rather be without clothes, food, shelter and girlfriend than get a job through ‘Suparish’. We all believed in the theory.

Along came LinkedIn and changed all that. Asking and giving recommendation is not a taboo anymore, it is a feature.

LinkedIn recommendations are not meant to impress your girlfriend, or wife or both or their parents. Irrespective of what a requester says, a recommendation is always asked when they are thinking of making a career move. You, as the person giving the recommendation, may experience a moment of unsurpassed seniority, supreme power and strength in the knowledge that the entire future of your friend or colleague is dependent on the few lines you are going to type. But in reality; no one gives a damn. The requestor can easily turn off any honest recommendation from being displayed and that too is a LinkedIn feature.

Now that you have understood that you can’t achieve anything by giving an honest recommendation it makes sense to go further in understanding the art of recommending. How to give honest recommendation and keep your honour intact at the same time.

LinkedIn recommendations are be broadly classified into two categories; 1. Honest and 2. Formal

Honest recommendation is where you have not only wasted your time but also that of the requester. A recommendation of this category is never expected and will never be published. Use extreme care and caution while giving an honest recommendation as you might also get the same back.

The formal recommendation is of two types, formal-general and formal-custom. The term custom here implies ‘lubricated to the job market’.

You give a formal- general recommendation when you don’t want to disappoint the requestor and at the same time want to ensure that the requestor is paid less than you. Use words that are very dry, will make the reader sleep and don’t add any real value, i.e. ‘I know x for the past 10 months’, ‘the best consultant I have met so far’, ‘target oriented person’, ‘blue sky thinker’, etc.

Formal-custom kind of recommendation on the other hand is based heavily on keywords that are music to any recruiter’s ears. These are the employee-of-the-month type of recommendations. Majority (99%) of LinkedIn recommendations are of this type.

Following are the top 10 Linkedin compliments (and what they actually mean) that you must include in recommendations of the formal-custom type:-

1. Lead from the front: (No one ever listened to him/her; he/she had no choice).
2. Team Leader: (Others did all the work for him/her).
3. Expert in his field: (You do not have a clue as to what he/she does).
4. Excellent client facing skills: (He/She was the only one with a valid Visa).
5. Very proactive: (He/She could never keep his mouth shut).
6. Out of the box thinking: (He/She came up with really weird and sometimes embarrassing ideas).
7. Hardworking: (He/She never left the office before you did).
8. Excellent problem solving skills: (He/She remembers exactly where the mess is and how he/she made it).
9. Highly recommended: (You are sure that the he/she won’t join your company).
10. Detail-orientated: (He/She always blew the project timeline and budget)

Whatever the type of your recommendation, always end your recommendation with “I wish him/her all the best for future” (meaning, ‘I am watching how far you will go’).

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