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July 1, 2014 at 1:00 AM

How to seed your resume with recommendations

In resumes, it’s common to see plenty of work-history accomplishments, such as “Led entire sales staff in ad revenue three years in a row” or “Managed a staff of six and reduced costs by 35 percent.”

These are all terrific achievements that can strengthen your brand. But what if you had some kind of testimonial like this to use? “John was one of my best associates who regularly took on extra assignments, made key improvements to every project he managed and found innovative solutions to any problems that arose.”

Now, that’s the kind of praise that compels hiring managers to keep reading! But in today’s world of rigid, third-party applicant tracking systems (ATS), this personal touch can get lost in transcription. One solution is to strategically insert recommendations into the basic unit of every job application: the resume. Here are some tips on adding gravitas to your professional brand.

Add your LinkedIn URL. First of all, make sure that hiring managers can see your whole LinkedIn profile by adding a link to your resume. To fit typical ATS protocols, add the URL for your page in your contact information section.

Broaden your scope. A note from a former supervisor carries the most weight, but a testimonial from a colleague or an employee you used to supervise can give companies an idea of how well you work with others and delegate authority.

Be brief. If a supervisor wrote a few paragraphs singing your praises, that’s great for your LinkedIn profile, but not your resume. Instead, edit out the obvious or generic bits — like “he’s a team player” or “she showed a lot of enthusiasm” — and choose the nugget statements that highlight specific achievements.

Find the best spot. Some job seekers tack on a section at the end of the resume called “Recommendations.” This shows fine organization, but boxing recommendations into their own section can lessen their impact. If you add an effective recommendation that applies to a specific position in your work-history section, it can add context and authority to your accomplishments. If you get praised for your overall work ethic, this may be good to add to your opening statement.

Ask for more. Don’t have any recommendations? Try reaching out to people you’ve worked with recently. LinkedIn has removed much of the awkwardness of asking for praise from former supervisors. Just send a quick InMail and ask if they can write a few words on your behalf. To get the ball rolling, write a recommendation for your former supervisor first. A little quid pro quo never hurts.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: branding, LinkedIn, resumes, self-promotion

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Blog contributors

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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