How to Get the Best LinkedIn Recommendations

by Meg Guiseppi on July 23, 2010

View Meg Guiseppi's profile on LinkedIn

Why are LinkedIn recommendations so important?

The true measure of your executive brand and promise of value to future employers is reflected in what those who know your work the best – co-workers, peers, top management, team members, customers, etc. – have to say about you.

Executive recruiters and hiring authorities routinely source talent through LinkedIn search. They’re attracted to candidates who have quality recommendations on their profiles. If you have no recommendations, they may question the value you offer and skip over you.

And, at least 3 recommendations are required (among other criteria) before LinkedIn considers your profile 100% complete, giving your profile a much better chance of landing high in LinkedIn searches.

Best tip to get the best recommendations?

Write good recommendations to get good recommendations. Two bonuses when you use this strategy:

1. Your recommendations of others include a link to your profile, extending your footprint on LinkedIn. Hiring authorities checking out the person you recommended will click over to your profile if you are someone of interest to them.

2. Recommendations that you write and the ones written for you show up in network updates for you and for the people you recommended, keeping your brand top of mind with both networks. 

A few cautions:

Only ask for recommendations from people who will give you a good recommendation. Don’t strive for quantity over quality.

Only give recommendations to people you can honestly praise. Social media authority Chris Brogan noted in his recent post on LinkedIn Recommendation Tips:

“I’ll say this once: if you recommend someone and can’t really vouch for their work, you’re just setting your own reputation up for a blow. Don’t do it . . . I’ll never recommend someone whose work I don’t know enough about.”

Avoid obviously contrived recommendations, ones that look like they were written just for the sake of reciprocating (“I’ll write one for you, if you write one for me.”). They will probably backfire. Recruiters are good at sniffing these out, and they can harm you and diminish your value.

Don’t demand a reciprocal recommendation.

Give the same kinds of recommendations you hope to receive. When writing recommendations Brogan suggests:

“Lead with the strongest thing you can say about the person. ‘Gerry is a clutch player in the world of project management.’ If you can’t say anything particularly strong, you might reconsider whether you’d recommend them.”

What are the best LinkedIn recommendations?

Assuming you have clarity on what jobs, industry, and audience you’re targeting, and your LinkedIn profile reflects this, you should seek recommendations that will hit home with your target audience and align with the qualifications and qualities they’re seeking.

It’s okay to help people write a recommendation for you, if they’re willing, by letting them know what kind of information you’re looking for. Asking them questions such as these should help them compose a paragraph or two:

1. What do you feel are my top strengths and skills that have most benefitted the company?

2. In what ways did I add value to the team and to the company?

3. What things did you know you could always rely on me to deliver?

4. In what ways have I helped you do your job?

Better yet, you may want to provide them with suggested verbiage and an actual example of the kind of recommendation you’re looking for. This would give them a foundation to work from and improve upon.

Related posts:

Executive Personal Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile FREE e-Book

LinkedIn: Best Tactic for Undercover Executive Job Search

Power Your Executive Personal Brand with LinkedIn Groups

Stalled Executive Job Search? Get Busy on LinkedIn and Twitter

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi August 10, 2010 at 10:29 am

Hi Ed,

Thanks for commenting, and for your continued support through retweets (follow Ed on Twitter – I really appreciate it!

I’m glad you reiterated the point to offer guidance to those from whom you request a recommendation. How many of us have had pushback from possible recommenders because they don’t have the time or feel they lack the skills to write a good recommendation? They will likely be very grateful if you help them.

They may even suggest that you write the recommendation yourself and they will approve and post it. Lucky you! But make sure you live up to what you write — keep it truthful and authentic. Don’t put your supporters in the position of okaying an exaggerated recommendation because you’ve put them on the spot.

2 Ed Han August 10, 2010 at 8:54 am

Meg, I’m glad you retweeted this today. This is an excellent guideline for receiving powerful, meaty LI recomendations. I particularly want to draw attention to something you mention late in the blog entry: the idea of offering some guidance to those from whom you request a recommendation.

In my experience, no one remembers your accomplishments as well as you do yourself. If something you did saved a substantial amount of time or money, providing the specific metric (when known) can be a really powerful statement in a recommendation, esp if it mirrors an accomplishment on a resume.

3 Meg Guiseppi July 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Hey City,

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Hope you’re having a good summer!


4 City Sylvester July 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Great article Meg! Thanks for sharing this.

5 Meg Guiseppi July 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Thanks for commenting, Deo. I’m very glad you found my post helpful.

I hope you’ll continue visiting here and read more!


6 Deo Shenai July 23, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Excellent article provides wealth of insightful info!

Leave a Comment


{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: