The Secret Job Search Weapon You Should Be Using
Do you ever buy anything online without reading the reviews first? Probably not. Testimonials are a great way to get a sense of what you’ll be getting before you actually get to use the product yourself.
And while product reviews are definitely not the same as testimonials about people, having a little third-party endorsement is no less effective when you’re actively trying to market your skills during your job search.
So, if you have great feedback from old co-workers, bosses, or clients, don’t be afraid to use it! Of course, it takes skill to insert testimonials in your job application materials without it being self congratulatory (i.e., you probably don’t want to list them out on your resume the way you would list awards), so here are a few ways to get those kind words your old manager said about your work to potential employers.
1. On LinkedIn
The most obvious choice to highlight your testimonials is LinkedIn, with its built-in recommendations system. If your LinkedIn profile is complete, it should be close to the top of search results when someone Googles you. And with recruiters increasingly checking candidates out online before inviting them in for interviews, they’ll see all those recommendations front and center. Try some of Jenny Foss’ tips on how to score amazing LinkedIn recommendations from the contacts who matter most.
2. On a Personal Website
Another great place for testimonials is your personal website. Don’t have a personal website? You should! As Erin Greenawald explains, a personal website helps you stand out, control your branding, showcase your skills, network, be found more easily by recruiters—and show off all the amazing things people have said about you. Try these 14 tools to get started building your space on the web—and make sure to include a section or page for testimonials.
3. In Your Cover Letter
A cover letter is a less conventional place for a testimonial, but if you’ve got a great one, it’s definitely something to consider. A seamless way to integrate a positive quote from a previous manager or client is to use it as evidence of your passion for your area of expertise. For example, “I have developed a keen interest in data science during my years working various political campaigns (as my past supervisor once said, I love Excel more than anyone she knows).”
(A word of caution: Make sure the testimonial is fantastic, and use this approach sparingly—I’d stick to no more than one quote or recommendation per cover letter.)
Now that you know where you can include praise from others in your job application materials, be vigilant about collecting all those nice things people say about you in one place. An easy way to do this is to keep an email folder of thank you notes, job-well-done notes, and anything congratulatory. When it comes time to tuck a testimonial onto your website or find someone to recommend you, you’ll know exactly where to look!
Photo of ranking courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.