How to Ask for – and Receive – LinkedIn Recommendations that Count

pen and paperRecommendations on LinkedIn are wonderful. 

If you are searching for that next job or that next level in your career, they provide instant referrals from coworkers and past associates.  For those building a business, they allow potential customers to read reviews from your current or former clients.

LinkedIn even makes it easy in providing a form complete with script.

Often there is hesitancy in requesting a recommendation because it might feel as though you are bragging in asking for one.  There is no other way I can say this: get over it – there is a reason that that feature is listed on LinkedIn.  It is valuable!

Even if you send out several recommendations, you might find that you are not receiving much of a response, or the responses do not speak to your value. 

And this brings us to the point of today’s blog: how to write recommendations that make it easier for your contacts to complete while highlighting the value you wish to promote about yourself.

Receiving the general, “I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include on my LinkedIn profile” recommendation request can either strike fear into the recipient’s heart or leave them completely incapable of responding.

From the Receiver’s Side

That statement is too broad.  If you give someone too much room to think or navigate they will normally end up not taking any action at all.  We need rules, parameters, expectations or even just a hint of an idea of what you want.

In giving a recommendation, we do not want to get it wrong.

If you are in transition and looking for recommendations to boost the skills, abilities and qualities that you are selling to prospective employers then please, tell me what you need.

It may feel pushy or odd in helping direct your contact for a recommendation, but it is the best thing you can do.

Tell me what you are looking for and, if I feel qualified to speak to it, I will.

I had a good friend who is job searching send me a general request.  Since this is a good friend I took the time to send him a message back and ask, “What would you like me to speak to in the recommendation?  What would help you in the job search?”

He responded, “Whatever you want.”

We worked together several years ago so I do know him and his work.  However, I do not want to go on about some quality or trait that he did if that is not what he is selling in his current job search.  I do not want it to be irrelevant.  I want it to help him.

Since he has still not defined it for me, it still sits in my inbox.  Poor, lonely request being ignored because I have not been given any direction.

Example of a Recommendation when Job Searching

“I am in the process of searching for my next opportunity.  I am looking to remain in the FGH industry where I can really utilize my abilities in A, B, and C in the role of LMN or QRS.  As you and I had worked together at XYZ Company and you are familiar with my abilities in A, B and C, I am writing to ask if you could write a recommendation for me about these traits.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

You accomplish a few key points in the above recommendation request:

  • You let them know you are looking for a job (in case they did not know).
  • You have spelled out what you are looking for so that they now have those key words in mind in case they immediately know of an opportunity that would be right for you – or come across one in the future.
  • You sold your best qualities by outlining them and asking them to comment on them.  This will reinforce your selling statements to prospective employers when they check out your LinkedIn page and there are recommendations boasting about the very things you have introduced.
  • You narrowed down exactly what you would like the person to speak to, therefore making it easier to write a recommendation. Instead of receiving a general response such as “He was a great guy to work with” you have a recommendation that speaks directly to your skills and abilities.
  • You took the time to write a targeted email, not click and send a generic request showing the recipient that you took the time to think about them as and what is directly relevant to them.
  • You showed appreciation for their time, instead of leaving it empty and possibly the assumption that they have the time to do so and will just because you asked.

Example of a Recommendation in Building a Book or Business

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for allowing me to provide XYZ service to you.  I truly enjoyed working with you and was glad that you were satisfied with my services.  As you know, I pride myself in ABC, EFG and JKL and am writing to you today to ask if you would mind taking a moment to write a recommendation about my work, your experience or how you feel I delivered on these qualities.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you in advance for your assistance, I appreciate your time in writing a recommendation.”

This type of request accomplished the same points as the job seeker: allowing your client to speak directly to your best qualities and the quality of your work within set parameters making it easier for them to respond.

What to Avoid

Do not send a recommendation to someone who is not qualified to speak on your behalf.

I accepted an invitation from someone a while back and within a week I received a recommendation request from them.   The problem was – I do not know them.  I never worked with them.  How could I possibly write a recommendation for someone I do not know?

From my personal perspective, I look at it this way: if I write a recommendation I am putting my name on it, it represents me.  I lose credibility if I recommend someone that I know nothing about their skills, abilities or value.

I am not going to risk my reputation and trust of my clients, friends or followers by putting my name to something that I personally do not know.  Forget it.  If you want me to bestow praise, then you have to earn it.

Do not ask for what you do not deserve.

Take a few extra minutes to craft a message that will help guide your contacts in writing a recommendation for you.  This is your reputation – it deserves that at the very least.

Give and Take

Lastly, return the favor.  If this person worked with you and is able to talk about your skills and ability, odds are you can do the same for them. 


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

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