The 3 Elements of Great LinkedIn Recommendations

We rely on recommendations for everything from where to eat, shop, or travel, to what products or services to buy.

Recommendations have always been a part of the hiring process, as employers rely on the word of someone who knows a potential employee to vouch for his or her talents, expertise and character.

Naturally, LinkedIn has provided a method of making recommendations available for members.

Do NOT Do This…

Imagine receiving this message via LinkedIn in your regular email account as I did recently:

“[Name] has shared his profile with you. Click below to leave him a quick recommendation. He will be much obliged you have supported his efforts!”

At first blush it seems like a routine use of social media to enhance the reputation of a contact.


  • Rather than coming from someone you know, it turns out that it came from a total stranger.
  • This stranger has also copied more than 20 other total strangers on the message.
  • Rather than directing you to LinkedIn’s own recommendation feature, the link sends you to another site altogether.

This is a case of brash networking incompetence. When you act this way, you can easily lose potential friendships and alienate people.

I regarded the email as shameless self-promotion, asking me to lie about knowing a person and to make up something positive about him to lure others into a relationship with him.

Use LinkedIn’s Recommendations Wisely

One of LinkedIn’s most under used, but a potentially valuable function, is the Recommendation (as opposed to the Endorsement). A recommendation actually requires someone to use words instead of just clicking on a Skill (learn why LinkedIn Skills are important).

Some recruiters depend heavily on Recommendations, while others don’t take them very seriously. However, a Profile which lacks any Recommendations is looked at with a bit of skepticism by most recruiters.

LinkedIn safeguards its users from having negative or inaccurate things said about them by requiring that the person being referred to approve a recommendation prior to it being posted on their Profile. And, it allows the two people involved to work with each other to tweak the language until both are entirely satisfied with it.

When you give someone whose personality and work you admire a recommendation, you show yourself to be a strong networker and team player. And, of course, what goes around tends to come around in the form of a return recommendation.

Giving a Recommendation on LinkedInHow to Give a Recommendation

To give a LinkedIn connection a recommendation, simply navigate to their Profile.

As you see in this image (same on both smart phones and computer screens) —

Click on the “More…” next to the blue and white “Message” button to open up the menu.

It is the seventh item in the menu, just below the “Request a Recommendation” option.

NOTE: The person you are recommending must be a 1st degree connection for you to have this option available.

Key Elements of a Great Recommendation:

A great recommendation will have 3 main elements, each made powerful by the specific facts a solid reference can bring to bear:

1. The relationship context.

Example: “I’ve known Joe for X years. We worked together at Moonscape, Inc. on a project to prepare and ship green cheese to the moon.”

2. What the person has done.

Example: “Joe’s job was to load the green cheese on to rocket ships. His work was always accurately executed. But in order to ensure that the launch was flawless and on time, he took the extra steps of staying late and coming in weekends to help out a coworker who lost several days of work for her own personal reasons.”

3. The person’s key strengths and talents.

Example: “Joe knows his way around our organization, and does whatever it takes, within the rules, to get things done. He has a good sense of people’s capacities, and, as a loyal team member, brings out the best in those around him. He knows our line of green cheese, and makes sure the product is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. He’s really made a difference in our department’s success!”

The Bottom Line

Traditionally, companies only bothered to check references at the end of a hiring process. But your ability to give and get references posted on LinkedIn can turn the process upside down.

In effect, a LinkedIn recommendation says to an employer: it is worth your time to get to know this person, because this is what you will find of value in him or her as a potential new employee.

To boost your job hunt, remember that good networking is not about shameless self-promotion, but rather building solid relationships. It’s about “give to get” and not “give me!” When you act this way you will enhance your own reputation, gain public standing, and evidence yourself to be the kind of person that others want to be around.

More About LinkedIn for Job Search:

Happy hunting!

About the author…

Job-Hunt’s Social Media and Job Search Expert Arnie Fertig, MPA, works with clients throughout the U.S. who are dedicated to their own career advancement on the nuts and bolts of job hunting. He is the Head Coach at, and contributes weekly to the USNews & World Report “On Careers” Blog. Connect with him on LinkedIn, on Twitter (@jobhuntercoach), or directly: Fertig [at]

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