Arguably one of the most useful features of LinkedIn is the ‘Recommendations’ section of your profile. Today we’re taking a look at how recommendations can help you to impress potential employers or clients and how to request and write them.
LinkedIn recommendations: why bother?
LinkedIn recommendations are written testimonials of your work from people who’ve worked with you in some capacity. They’re not to be confused with LinkedIn endorsements, which are one-click upvotes to acknowledge that you have certain specific skills. Recommendations are a great way for potential employers to gain some other perspectives on you and your professional attributes.
Recommendations act a bit like the references you get asked for when you’re shortlisted for a job, explaining why you’ve been a good person to work with and highlighting key strengths, except that they’re placed on your profile for all your connections to see. You can use them to enhance your LinkedIn profile with independent views on what makes you great, so they’re really useful if you’re applying for jobs.
Because you request recommendations from people you know to have been happy with your work, it’s a bit like getting positive reviews on Amazon or Tripadvisor: it’s a way to show that you’re trusted by others. You’re more likely to buy something when you’ve been recommended it by a friend, and the same is true when you’re recruiting or looking for someone to support your business: when someone comes personally recommended by someone you know, you’re more likely to trust that they’re a good bet.
Recommendations are visible to your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections, so they’re also a great way of getting noticed by a wider network of potential employers, clients or customers. People who aren’t connections and who see your public profile will only see the number of recommendations you’ve received and up to two anonymous recommendations. That means that if a potential employer is doing some online research before inviting you to an interview, they’ll still be able to see what a couple of people say about you.
While the benefits of receiving LinkedIn testimonials are obvious, is it beneficial to be proactive in giving LinkedIn recommendations? Of course, it’s nice to spread some good karma by helping people out when you’ve been happy with their work, and a LinkedIn recommendation is a great way of publicly acknowledging and thanking someone. From a selfish point of view, it also makes it more likely that they’ll write a recommendation for you in return.
How to request a LinkedIn recommendation
To request a LinkedIn recommendation, follow these simple steps.
- Click on your profile and scroll down to the Recommendations section, where you’ll see an icon saying ‘Ask for a recommendation’.
- Click this and you’ll get a box in which you choose who you want to ask. Start typing the person’s name and your contacts will appear automatically for you to select from.
- Next you’re asked how you know the person you’re sending the request to. Select the most appropriate response based on whether they are (or were) a colleague, manager, employee, client, business partner, mentor or fellow student.
- Select your position at the time you worked with them from the drop-down menu. This lists all the jobs you’ve put on your LinkedIn profile, so if you’re requesting the recommendation from a colleague or manager (for example), choose the job you had when you worked with them.
- Click ‘Next’ and you’ll get a box asking you to write a personal message to request a recommendation from them. When you’ve written this, just press ‘Send’.
Don’t just send the generic LinkedIn recommendation request text (which simply says, “Hi [name], can you write me a recommendation?”); take the time to write a personal message. It’s always a bit awkward asking someone else to sing your praises, but just briefly explain how important it would be to you in securing new work or clients, and how much you’d appreciate their help. It’s also nice to offer to return the favour by writing them a recommendation in return.
When they’ve written a recommendation for you, you’ll get a notification from LinkedIn to let you know. It won’t be automatically added to your profile; you’ll need to review and accept it first. If you’re not quite happy with it, you can request an amendment to it before adding it to your profile. Ensure your ‘activity broadcasts’ are set so that your connections get updated when you’ve received a recommendation.
How to write a great LinkedIn recommendation
If you’ve been asked to write a recommendation for someone, you might be wondering what to say. A good starting point is to acknowledge their request for a recommendation and ask them if there’s anything in particular they’d like you to cover in it. For example, if they’re applying for jobs, what kind of jobs are they applying for and what skills would it be advantageous for them to demonstrate? This will help you tailor your recommendation so that they get maximum value from it. Some useful things to include might be:
- Background – a brief summary of the context in which you worked with this person.
- Key strengths – what did this person do particularly well when you worked with them? What impressed you about them? What sets them apart from the crowd?
- Results – if you’re writing about someone who’s provided a service for your business – such as a freelancer or consultant – what’s been the impact of their work on your business? Has their work helped you gain more sales or operate more efficiently, for instance?
- What the person is like as an individual – employers want to know that they’ll be a nice person to be around, and this isn’t always clear from the rest of someone’s LinkedIn profile.
If you’re proactively recommending someone, you can do this by clicking on their profile and going to the Recommendations section.
For more on how to get the most from LinkedIn, take a look at our previous posts on how to use LinkedIn for a small business and tips for creating a great LinkedIn profile from Bianca Miller-Cole.