LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn Profile Optimization

Not a new feature, but often overlooked: LinkedIn Recommendations. The LinkedIn recommendations can be one of the most powerful tools on LinkedIn – if used correctly.

First of all, what are LinkedIn Recommendations? They are written recommendations from peers, managers, or clients. Recommendations are job specific, meaning I would not be able to give you a recommendation for work you did at a certain company if I never worked with you.

What does a good recommendation look like?

A recommendation should be at least one paragraph of text. A recommendation should not be just one sentence. Here is what some of my recommendations look like:



This specific recommendation is very detailed and lists some specific situations that occurred. The recommendation lists strengths that might help another reader to better understand who I am from a professional perspective. Thank you, Charles!


If you compare both recommendations they are fairly even in length. While the first one mentions some specific situations where I helped Charles, the second one is a bit more generic, but not less powerful. It describes a certain technology and my matching skills. Again, very helpful for hiring managers that need a specialist with exactly the skill set that Jason described here.

LinkedIn also has the “endorsements” feature, which in my opinion has become absolutely useless. I see too many connections of mine endorsing me for technologies they have no clue about and I know from friends that they see the same thing. I am sure many others see the same problem and consider endorsements to be useless.
Therefore it is very important to get at least a handful of recommendations to provide detailed and useful information. The value of the additional details a recommendation offers is very high.

How do you get recommendations?

You can request recommendations from your profile. Next to Edit Profile is a small down arrow that displays a drop-down menu. Select the Ask to be recommended option.



From there a new window displays with all the necessary details needed to request a recommendation from someone.

  • Pick the associated job you want a recommendation for
  • Select who you want to ask
  • Create a message for the person you want to ask for a recommendation


Here is the important part. Take a look at the default text to request a recommendation. While the text is OK, it is not the best option – especially if you are not very close friends with the person you are requesting a recommendation from.

Take some time to customize the text. Note: LinkedIn inserts a “Dear First name” piece into the message that gets sent.

Here is an example of a more personalized message.


The example above might not apply in every situation, but it can give you some ideas of how to approach this endeavor. Be polite and do not hesitate to offer to return the favor.

How much personalization do you need? Overall, it really depends how close you are to the person you want to ask for a recommendation.

Using recommendations to your advantage means being selective. It’s not about how many recommendations you eventually have, but how much value each one carries. Recommendations are per job. I would not display more than 15-20 per job to keep things manageable. A potential reader will not want to read 74 recommendations that repeat each other. Pick the ones that show the best of you if you have more to choose from.

Here is the direct URL to manage your recommendations:

You can also edit your profile and manage your recommendations towards the bottom of your profile.


You will notice that each recommendation has a drop down menu associated with it. That’s where you can set the option about visibility for a recommendation.

The options are Everyone, Connections only, and No one. You can make individual changes or make one setting that applies to all recommendations in your account at that point in time. The default setting is Everyone once you approve a recommendation. Questions about recommendation that might come tomind:

Q.: You want to request a recommendation for a job from many years ago, but you have not talked to anyone from that job in years. How do you approach the situation?A.: This is where a personalized recommendation request really makes sense. You can reach out with a customized message. Do not be embarrassed to ask. If you left on good terms and/or always had a good working relationship with the person you are trying to contact you should be fine. Also, what is the worst that can happen? Oh, yes – you’re not getting a recommendation. Tough luck, but does it really affect you? Probably not.

Q.: How to get a recommendation from someone who is not on LinkedIn?
A.: Invite that person to LinkedIn. Another option is to scan a letter of recommendation and upload it to your dropbox or similar service and then to link to it from your account. This can make sense if you have a letter of recommendation from a VIP-type person or celebrity. However, keep in mind that this is a more complicated process.
Remember: By accumulating a larger number recommendations, you will eventually gain the trust of potential recruiters, employers, clients, and whomever else you want to impress on LinkedIn. This type of trust can easily translate into new business or into a new job opportunity.

Showing recommendations on LinkedIn can help convince people that you are the right person for the job even before talking to you.

You probably get those emails from LinkedIn with status updates from other people. Every time you get a new or revised recommendation, this type of announcement goes out to all your contacts as well as your recommendation’s contacts. It will also show up in the news stream on your LinkedIn homepage.