LinkedIn is an effective tool for giving and receiving professional recommendations. The platform is set up to easily trade recommendations with your connections, and you can embed them right into your profiles to help increase your chances of standing out to a hiring manager.
Recommendations from clients, colleagues, and supervisors affirming your skills and accomplishments will greatly enhance your profile. Hiring managers searching LinkedIn for job candidates will see these recommendations, which will serve as references in advance, and could help you land an interview.
Choose Five Contacts
You can start with an easily attainable goal of getting recommendations from five LinkedIn connections. The best way to get these recommendations is to first give them recommendations yourself.
Select LinkedIn connections who you believe would give you a favorable recommendation, and who you feel you could also give a genuine review. They should be people with whom you've worked or currently work.
If you cannot think of five ideal people with whom you're already connected on LinkedIn, then search LinkedIn for staff at your company or former place of employment.
Write Genuine Recommendations
Next, write a LinkedIn recommendation for each of the five people you've chosen.
Write a genuine recommendation for each person—in other words, don't write a similar review for everyone. Be personal.
Avoid generic phrases such as, "Sam's a really dependable worker." Instead, be specific about what they've done and why they're earning your praise. Something like, "In all of my years working with Sam at Company ABC, I've never seen him miss a project deadline," is much more effective.
Also, be sure to identify your working relationship with each person to give the review context. ("I had the pleasure of leading projects with Sam at Company ABC for 10 years.")
You can post the reviews by going to their LinkedIn profile page, choosing the "More" button on the right side, and choosing the "Recommend" from the drop-down menu.
Request Recommendations via Personal Messages
Once you've posted a recommendation on a person’s LinkedIn page, send them a LinkedIn message explaining that you'd like to trade recommendations and that you've already given them one.
You can do this by going to their profile and choosing the "Message" button on the right side. Another option is choosing the "More" button (next to the "Message" button) and picking "Request a Recommendation" from the drop-down menu.
The difference between the two options is that the recommendation button allows you to choose your relationship with the person and the company at which you've worked together. If you choose to go the route of a regular message, then be sure to remind the person how you are connected.
With either option you choose, be sure to personalize your message. Explain why you chose to give them a recommendation by summarizing some of the positive qualities you outlined.
In addition, be careful to approach this request with a gracious tone, and not one that says, "I did this for you, and now you owe me." Ask the contact if they feel confident recommending you and if they have the time to do so. This way, they have an out if they feel they cannot give you a recommendation for some reason.
Once you receive a recommendation, you'll get a notification via email, and you'll be able to read and approve it. If for any reason you do not want the recommendation on your profile, you can choose not to publish it.
Remember, your five connections may choose not to write you a recommendation in response. If you don't receive a recommendation from these connections, then you can send them a gentle reminder in the form of a follow-up message. However, it's best not to be too pushy or send multiple reminder emails.
Another Option: Going Straight to the Request
If you find that you're writing recommendations and not getting many in return, then you may want to take another approach: Skip straight to the recommendation request.
In your request, ask your contacts if they have any interest in trading recommendations with each other. Be sure to personalize this message, too, and mention why you'd like to recommend them. Then, if the person does not respond or wish to write you a recommendation, you'll have spared yourself the time of writing one for them.