So, you've heard about testimonials but want to know what the big deal is? Securing testimonials is such a good way to build credibility and when used effectively they can even support you in your mission to snap up your perfect job. Still not sure? Let me break it down for you and answer all of your questions.
WHAT IS A TESTIMONIAL?
A testimonial, according to the Google dictionary, is "a formal statement testifying to someone's character and qualifications". It is basically a review, similar to a written reference, but not as lengthy. A testimonial only needs to be a sentence or two and is short, sharp and to-the point. The best testimonials are really specific. They should explain exactly what you have done and what the result was.
Let's say we were talking about a testimonial for a pizza oven. A good testimonial says "This pizza oven is really great! I am so happy with my purchase!", but an excellent testimonial might say "The base of my pizza was really crispy and the toppings were cooked to perfection. My family enjoyed the meal so much they have asked me to make pizza again tomorrow!"
See how the second testimonial was far more specific and focused on the results?
Are you feeling hungry for pizza yet?
We can apply the same principles to a testimonial about a person. Instead of "Becca is a really lovely girl who is very knowledgeable about resumes" you would prefer "Becca helped me to prepare a tailored resume and coached me for my interview. With her help, I was able to secure my dream job". The focus is very much on the result and people want results!
WHY ARE they SO IMPORTANT?
Before making a big purchase, most people read the reviews. As the internet becomes more prevalent, so do online reviews and honestly, I don't buy anything without looking for reviews first! When seeking out this type of feedback, there are a couple of things I am looking for:
- Do the bad reviews outweigh the positive? - If so, I am probably not going to buy.
- Are the negative reviews relevant to me? - Maybe I don't need my coffee machine to also walk the dog....
- Are there any reviews at all? - If nobody has reviewed the product, maybe it is new to the market or doesn't have a very broad reach.
In terms of you, your credibility and your hunt for the perfect role, testimonials support you in a couple of ways. Firstly, they back up what you are saying about yourself. I mean, I can talk to you all day about how amazing my coaching skills are, but how much more convincing is it if somebody else tells you?
Let me show you.
My friend Amanda, who I used to work with in Brisbane, approached me recently and asked for my help in writing an Expression of Interest for an internal job that she was interested in. Of course, I helped her. That is what I do! Anyway, she was really happy with her application and she got the job so it was a good result all round.
Pretty cool story huh?
Rebecca helped me with an Expression of Interest. She really has a way with words. She is professional and knows exactly what she is doing. I will definitely be using her services in the future. Oh, I got the job!! Thanks Bec!
What do you think now? Did having Amanda's input make the testimonial more powerful?
That brings me to my second point. As well as supporting your story and backing up what you have said, testimonials tie in emotions. I talked briefly about this in my post, How to Win at a Behavioural Interview. By attaching emotion to a statement, you make the other person FEEL the gravity of what you have achieved. It is more authentic, believable and engaging. By having Amanda explain the situation in HER words, it brings more credibility to MY story.
HOW DO I GET TESTIMONIALS?
Well, there is no tricky trick to this. My advice is to simply ask. It can be a little scary reaching out and asking someone to write you a testimonial. I am not even gonna lie, I was quite nervous asking some of my previous clients to write something about me, even though many of them are now my friends! The thing is that the worst possible outcome is that they will say no and if they do, just ask someone else! Most people will feel quite honoured that you have asked.
One strategy that I used last month was to actually ask my Facebook friends. A lot of my clients are people that I have worked with in some capacity and there are a number of my Facebook friends who have retained my services. Rather than individually tapping people on the shoulder, I tried a blanket approach and posted a general request for people who had worked with me, to provide a testimonial. I got a really great response, but I can still follow up with individuals as needed.
Is it really that easy?
So I hear what you are saying. You might not be friends with your work colleagues and contacts on Facebook. Well, that is okay! A similar approach would be to place a request like this on LinkedIn, or draft up an email template that you can quickly personalise and send out to people on your testimonial wish list. Note I mentioned personalise there - email is far more personal than a social media blast, so I wouldn't send out a group email with a request like this.
What I would suggest though, is that you consider providing some guidance about how you would like your testimonial to be written. Remember what I said about the best testimonials including details of what you have done? Don't be afraid to ask someone to be really specific and focus on your results. I am sure they will appreciate the guidance.
WHO SHOULD I REQUEST a TESTIMONIAL FROM?
In short, everyone. The great thing about testimonials is that they don't have to come only from people that have managed you. It really is a 360-degree process. You should aim to get testimonials from a range of different people. Try not to just include testimonials from your work mates, although they are absolutely relevant. Think managers, clients, suppliers, colleagues in other branches, direct reports, trainers and consultants. Anyone that you have interacted with can provide you with a testimonial.
Here are some examples:
- Manager: "Billy is a pleasure to manage. He always achieves his sales targets and is extremely helpful with training junior team members."
- Client: "I recently went out to buy a new television and Billy was so helpful. He helped me pick the TV that best suited my needs and budget and even showed me how to use it!"
- Supplier: "I am in Billy's store once a month to talk about supply issues and answer questions. I am always so impressed with how knowledgeable Billy is about our product. It is no surprise that he is the best salesperson in the region."
- Colleague: "Although I don't work directly with Billy, I recently needed his help to fix an issue with a customer's invoice. He was so helpful. He contacted the customer straight away and the problem was fixed within minutes."
- Direct report: "I have thoroughly enjoyed having Billy as a Manager. He is very supportive and through his coaching I have been able to improve my sales results by 200%."
- Trainer: "I have been training Billy on the company's new sales strategy. Billy picked up the material really quickly and came up with some ideas to embed the training into the store's induction process."
- Consultant: "I have been working in Billy's store on an auditing project. Whilst we haven't been officially working together, Billy has been incredibly helpful and watching him deal with customer complaints has taught me a thing or two about conflict management."
Billy is a bit of a legend isn't he?
Hopefully this will help you see how pieces of the puzzle fit together and how you can use testimonials from different perspectives to tell an overall story. Six (very fictional) people in various areas of this (very fictional) company said different things about Billy (who is very fictitious!) You get the overall vibe though, that Billy is a super helpful guy who is really great to work with. And if several people are saying it, I tend to believe them - I want to work with Billy too!
The best testimonials are super specific. They focus on your actions AND results.
WHERE SHOULD I USE TESTIMONIALS?
So you have got some amazing testimonials. Where should you use them? Here are a few ideas:
- In your resume – If you can secure testimonials from your referees, you can include them in your resume with their contact details. This is like a preview of a full written reference and can look really effective!
- In your LinkedIn profile – Ask your contacts to submit your testimonials directly onto your LinkedIn profile. You also have the option to ask for endorsements for specific skills, but written testimonials are so much more powerful as they have more context.
- On your personal website – Have you created a personal website yet? If you are looking for some inspiration, check out my post on it: Creating a Personal Website. You can create a page that is purely dedicated to testimonials or you can sprinkle them throughout your site.
- In your portfolio – As I mentioned in this post: How to create a Professional Portfolio for any industry, I recommend creating your testimonial page in Canva and using headshots to break up the text. This is both informative and visually appealing and adds depth to your portfolio.
- In your Cover Letter – You don’t want to go overboard with this, but if you have a really good testimonial then, you can slip it into your cover letter as a quote. This can be very effective, but choose wisely – you should only ever use one!
Are you convinced?
If you have any other ideas about using testimonials to build credibility, please let me know in the comments! I strongly believe in having a few really strong testimonials up your sleeve, but if you are still not convinced, give it a try. You have nothing to lose! Best of luck!
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