LinkedIn is a powerful tool which enables you to engage, solidify and maintain relationships with a broad range of people who make up the fabric of your professional life.  LinkedIn recommendations act as a kind of case study of a particular relationship, outlining the circumstances of your mutual connection and the reputation you have earned within that relationship.

Why do you need LinkedIn recommendations?

Featuring recommendations on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to convey what others in your professional network think of you.  This kind of social proof is massive – showcasing recommendations is an easy and transparent way to evidence that you are who you say you are, and that you do know what you say you know.

whyIf you are a current jobseeker, then a strong presence on LinkedIn complete with recommendations is a must.  The platform is used by many businesses to source talent for new roles and discover more about candidates of interest.  Recruiters search online for candidates’ LinkedIn profiles to crosscheck their credentials and reputation.  Having great recommendations on your profile will boost your credibility and encourage a recruiter to consider your profile in a more favourable light.  A recommendation speaks volumes about a person’s character, and carries more weight than what the individual may write about themselves.

When you update your LinkedIn profile with a recommendation, your connections, and the connections of the person recommending you, will be notified of the update in their newsfeed.  It’s the virtual equivalent of the person taking you to a premium, closed networking event with all of their contacts, patting you on the back and announcing to the room that you are in their circle of trust.

Who should you ask for LinkedIn recommendations?

Before requesting LinkedIn recommendations, consider your career objectives carefully.  If your next move is going to be based on the experience and skills you have gained through your current role, then there is little point requesting a host of non-related recommendations for work you carried out at the start of your career.  Instead, focus on requesting recommendations that will support achievement of that goal.

whoWith your target firmly in mind, go ahead and seek LinkedIn recommendations from peers at all levels to build and enhance your reputation; don’t feel compelled to just ask people you report to.  You might consider asking contacts from inside or outside your current organisation, from previous employers, business partners, suppliers, client organisations, educational institutions, or even conferences or events attended.  In fact, I think that displaying a diverse array of recommendations puts you at an advantage, showing that you are a great person to work with regardless of the scenario.

If a supplier recommends you, this can demonstrate your flair for partnership working; if one of your direct reports recommends you, it can show that you are a respected manager and if someone who manages or has managed your performance recommends you, then it shows your ability to deliver as an employee… and so on!  Whilst it’s always a good idea to aim for a balance, obviously there is something to be said for being recommended by someone who is well-regarded in their organisation or industry, so if the CEO wants to give you a recommendation, then that’s really great.

Something to bear in mind – if your profile features a high proportion of recommendations that are very obviously written by your friends and family, this could suggest that you were unable to secure recommendations through your professional network.

When should you and shouldn’t you ask for LinkedIn recommendations?

Strike while the iron’s hot and ask for recommendations whilst working closely with a LinkedIn contact, or shortly after your project or association has ended.

It’s a good idea to seek recommendations whilst the glow of the aftermath is still warm and smiles are still on the faces of those who have been involved.

As to when you shouldn’t ask for a LinkedIn recommendation, I wouldn’t advise requesting recommendations from contacts you have only had peripheral dealings with, those who are relatively new contacts or those you don’t really know that well.  Wait until the relationship has developed and pick your moment.

Where should you display LinkedIn recommendations?

Although your focus needs to be on securing LinkedIn recommendations that will help you to achieve your career target, ideally, over a period of time, you should strive to include a minimum of two to three recommendations for each role.

This would suggest to anyone viewing your profile that your performance has been consistent throughout your career and that you are, and have always been, a good person to know.

Recommendations are displayed in reverse chronological order for each role, so that the latest recommendation you receive will be the presented first on your LinkedIn profile.

What should you say when requesting a LinkedIn recommendation?

Being generous and making the first move in writing LinkedIn recommendations for others in your network is a good tactic to receive some recommendations yourself, as well as being an all-round nice thing to do.

Don’t give just to receive, but you can lead by example and set the ball rolling.  Most people will be overwhelmed that you have taken the time to support them and be eager to reciprocate.

However, there will be occasions where you need to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation.

LinkedIn recommendationsLinkedIn’s messaging system makes the whole process very easy.

Visit your Profile, select Edit, hover over the down arrow beside edit and select

‘Ask to be recommended’

from the dropdown list.




Now to face the dilemma of what to say.  Write a personal and friendly message that draws out your connection and politely ask if they would be kind enough to write you a LinkedIn recommendation, perhaps based on a specific project or experience of working together.  Make it easy for your contact to act quickly by offering your help in putting something together.

If you have already received a glowing recommendation by email, in a memo or even as part of a performance review, you could send this to the individual asking if they would be willing to upload it to LinkedIn as a recommendation.  This certainly cuts down on the legwork for the individual giving the reference.

Once someone has written a recommendation and submitted it to LinkedIn, you will receive an email notification from LinkedIn enabling you to review what has been written about you and request any changes.  I personally am so grateful to the person for taking the time to write the recommendation that I wouldn’t usually ask for any changes to be made.  Whether you publish the recommendations you receive on your LinkedIn profile is up to you, so if for any reason you don’t want to publish it, you don’t have to.

Lastly, remember to thank anyone who is good enough to recommend you.  Their time and generosity of spirit is to be valued, especially when you consider the positive impact their actions could have on your future career.


If your LinkedIn profile could use a makeover, then why not check out our LinkedIn profile packages or connect with me on LinkedIn?

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire is a professional CV writer at Giraffe CVs. She has 15 years of experience gained delivering interview-winning CVs and cover letters for professionals at all levels, helping individuals to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive job market.
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire