recommendations

How to Request Recommendations on LinkedIn Without Giving the Impression That You’re Jumping Ship

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Good afternoon, GCers. No time for small talk. Let’s get to it.

Hi Caleb,

With regards to LinkedIn, do you have any advice on how to request recommendations from superiors, other coworkers, and clients, without giving the impression to my own superiors that I want out? For some background, I am a Senior 3 in EY’s TAS group and have been here since I graduated college.

I like what I do and I work hard to get the job done right, but the double-edged sword of being a “high performer” is that you are continuously staffed on the complex engagements withhat are constantly go-go-go. Needless to say, my social life has become essentially non-existent during the week. I am not actively looking to move to another company given I am up for promotion to Manager this year, but I am starting to think that it would be beneficial from an upward mobility standpoint to make a move elsewhere, and I think getting recommendations on LinkedIn would be a solid start.

Thank you,
J.

J.

Great question. Now, there is no fool-proof way to prevent against raising suspicions, however, you can ask certain colleagues in such a way that will both minimize suspicions and even gain a bit of their respect.

No one knows how LinkedIn will evolve in the coming years. It quickly went from a “why are you on LinkedIn?” website to the year’s biggest tech IPO (for better or worse, but that’s a different story altogether). There’s no denying that recruiters – both headhunters and in-house specialists – use the website as a search tool, so I can understand your desire to beef up your profile. My suggestion is to have recommendations from a peer, a superior, and depending on the relationship, a client. My suggestions for targeting potential rec’s:

1. Superior – The trick here is to pick a superior that is active on LinkedIn. I bet if you searched LinkedIn for the leaders of your group that you’ve worked with, their profiles will fall into one of two categories: a) active or b) dormant. The dormant LinkedIn profile might not show the recent promotion, give little to no description about their practice line or specialties, and they’ll be lucky to have more than 25 connections. The active user (and the person you want to target for a recommendation) will have a very active profile: details about industry knowledge, present title within the firm, probably 100+ connections, and – if you’re lucky – a few recommendations from peers. This is your target.

How to target? Simple. Be honest and straightforward with them in the sense that you are taking your public image within the firm very seriously. You can also mention that LinkedIn is a professional website and you’re hoping to have your hard work properly recognized amongst profiles online; after all, it is a very competitive market within your practice. You can also offer to leave a respectful recommendation on their profile from the perspective of a direct report.

There are two reasons you want to target an active LinkedIn user. First, they know how to use the site, unlike the partner with seven connections who probably doesn’t remember his/her login password. Also, an active user understands the value in having a complete profile. They will likely respect you for taking your public image (and the image of the firm) seriously.

2. Peer – did you and a coworker spear-head a project, push through challenges, and deliver an exceptional product to your clients? There’s nothing wrong with recommending each other’s work. It will demonstrate that you are a team player and work well with those on your level.

3. Client – if you are close with one of your clients, this is a no brainer. Have him/her slap a few nice words on your profile regarding a project or engagement. This will look great on your profile – to both recruiters and your superiors.

The safe, fall back reasoning for pursuing all of these recommendations is that you are hoping to polish up your profile and public image as it is seen within your firm and by your clients. If a recruiter happens to be impressed, so be it. Added bonus.

Has anyone else reached out to one of the groups above? What are your experiences? Share in the comments.

Center for Audit Quality Thrilled That SEC Study Recommends Auditors Continue Auditing

I am pleased that the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant’s thoughtful study recommends retention of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes Oxley Act for companies whose market capitalization is between $75 and $250 million. Section 404(b) requires independent auditors to attest to management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal controls over financial reporting […]. The study concluded that costs of Section 404(b) compliance have declined and financial reporting is more reliable when the auditor is involved with ICFR assessments. Importantly, the study found that investors generally view the auditor‘s attestation on ICFR as beneficial. [Cindy Fornelli/CAQ]

Alterra Blows Off Proxy Advisors; Recommends Shareholders Reappoint KPMG as Auditor

After all the hubbub over the PCAOB inspection report that was brought to light by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil, including two recommendations by proxy advisors Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., Alterra Capital Holdings has recommended to its shareholders that they vote “FOR” the ratification of KPMG as the company’s independent auditor.


From thc.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1141719/000093041311002842/c65254_defa14a.htm”>SEC Filing dated April 19th (all emphasis is original):

TO THE SHAREHOLDERS

We are writing to bring your attention to a disagreement between Alterra Capital Holdings Limited (the “Company”), on the one hand, and each of ISS Proxy Advisory Services and Glass Lewis (each, a “Proxy Advisor”), on the other hand, with respect to the recommendation by each of the Proxy Advisors to vote “against” the Company’s proposal to ratify the appointment of KPMG Bermuda as the Company’s independent auditors for fiscal year 2011 and authorize the Company’s board of directors (the “Board”) to set the remuneration of the independent auditors at the Company’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders scheduled to be held on May 2, 2011. The Proxy Advisors’ recommendations are primarily related to a report issued by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the “PCAOB”) regarding the Company’s auditors, KPMG Bermuda. The PCAOB is a nonprofit corporation established by the U.S. Congress to oversee the audits of public companies. One of the principal roles of the PCAOB is to perform inspections of the audit files of accounting firms that conduct public company audits. Each audit firm is selected by the PCAOB for inspection at least once in every three years.

In November 2009, the PCAOB reviewed KPMG Bermuda’s 2008 audit files of a public company client located in Bermuda in connection with a routine periodic inspection. In March 2011, the PCAOB publicly issued its findings in a report dated January 28, 2011 (the “PCAOB Report”). Although the PCAOB Report did not identify the public company by name, an article posted on Bloomberg News on March 30, 2011 alleged that the public company client at issue was the Company (formerly Max Capital Group Ltd.). The Company confirmed that it was the client referenced in the PCAOB’s Report in a Current Report on Form 8-K dated March 31, 2011.

The Proxy Advisors’ recommendations also cite concerns that certain of the Company’s directors and officers previously worked at KPMG.

For the reasons set forth below, the Board disagrees with the Proxy Advisors’ recommendations to vote “against” the Company’s independent auditor proposal. The Board unanimously recommends that you vote “FOR” the ratification of KPMG Bermuda as the Company’s independent auditor.

Since this decision by the Board might not sit well with a few people, they’ve carefully laid out the case as to why sticking with the House Klynveld is the right thing to do. They are as follows:

1. The PCAOB Report did not question the Company’s valuations that are reflected in its financial statements.

2. The PCAOB Report did not impact KPMG Bermuda’s unqualified opinions on the Company’s financial statements in 2008, 2009 and 2010; there was and is no restatement issue.

3. The PCAOB made similar findings regarding all four major accounting firms.

4. The Audit and Risk Management Committee was aware of the PCAOB review and made an informed decision in recommending KPMG Bermuda as the Company’s Independent Auditor for 2011.

5. KPMG Bermuda is independent from the Company.

6. The Audit and Risk Management Committee will reassess KPMG Bermuda’s qualifications and suitability in 2012.

Just a few thoughts on some of these:

• It’s not the job of the PCAOB to question the Alterra’s valuations. That’s what KPMG was supposed to do. The PCAOB said KPMG did a lousy job of getting enough evidence to support those valuations.

• Just because there wasn’t a restatement doesn’t mean the auditors did their jobs correctly.

• Admitting that “all four major accounting firms” had similar findings says a lot about what the Board thinks of auditors.

• Is point #5 supposed to be a reminder for the shareholders that have no business acumen whatsoever?

• Point #6 could be better stated as “Our Board is getting good at jumping through hoops. See you next year.”

Any other thoughts? Leave them below.

Glass Lewis Recommends That Alterra Shareholders Drop KPMG-Bermuda as Auditor

Remember Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd? They’re were exposed by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil last month as the KPMG-Bermuda audit client that was selected by the PCAOB for inspection. The audit didn’t go so hot as the inspectors found “the firm did not obtain sufficient competent evidential matter to support its opinion on the issuer’s financial statements.” To put this in context, Weil explained that available-for-sale securities were the largest asset on Alterra’s balance sheet and it accounted for “half of the company’s $7.3 billion of total assets as of Dec. 31, 2008, and a little more than half of its $9.9 billion of total assets at the end of last year.”


In wake of this little revelation, research firm Glass Lewis & Co. has recommended to Alterra Capital Holdings that they kick KPMG-Bermuda to curb (after nine glorious years), according to a copy of the “Proxy Paper” sent to Going Concern. The report rehashes the whole story and then concludes with this:

Despite the lack of any restatements of previous financial statements, we believe that shareholders should be concerned about the reappointment of KPMG following the lapses uncovered by the PCAOB. Therefore, we believe that shareholders should hold the audit committee responsible for reappointing the same audit firm.

Glass Lewis also wanted to make shareholders “aware” of the fact that Alterra’s Audit Committee Chair, CFO and CAO are all KPMG alumni but stopped short of citing it as a reason to oppose KPMG at the meeting on May 2. According to the report, Glass Lewis had recommended that Alterra retain KPMG as auditor prior to the last shareholder’s meeting which the shareholders did by an overwhelming margin with nearly 91 million votes voting “For,” 182k voting “Against” and 32k abstained.