How to Request a LinkedIn Recommendation

Woman using laptop in home office
••• Hero Images / Getty Images

Employers are using LinkedIn to research candidates for employment. In some cases, even before you are selected for an interview, a recruiter or hiring manager will check you out on LinkedIn to see what you've accomplished, who you are connected to, and who is recommending you. This means that recommendations are a vital component of an effective LinkedIn profile.

When someone views your LinkedIn profile, they will see an online version of your resume, complete with references, if you have recommendations in your profile.

Recommendations from supervisors, clients, suppliers, and colleagues affirming your skills, accomplishments and positive work style will not only enhance your profile, they will also show a hiring manager, at a glance, glowing references that attest to your candidacy for employment.

Here's advice on how to get LinkedIn recommendations, who to ask for references, and how to manage the recommendations you've received.

Tips for Getting Great LinkedIn Recommendations

Do take the time to request recommendations from your LinkedIn connections. Recommendations from people you have worked with carry a lot of weight. To a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is an employment reference in advance and can help you secure an interview.

Who to Ask for Recommendations

A LinkedIn recommendation is a testimony of your professional value written by one of your first degree connections. So, you will want recommendations that are powerful, weighty, and authoritative. So here is how to receive them:

  • Be connected with a current or former manager, colleague, client, or other contact
  • Compose a request to him or her, including a few accomplishments of which you are most proud, as well as a graceful way to say no.

The Best Ways to Request a LinkedIn Recommendation

The best way to get recommendations on LinkedIn is to give them. When you recommend a LinkedIn member, you are attesting to their qualifications -- and people love being recommended. They will probably reciprocate if you take the time to help them out.

A first step is to search LinkedIn for staff at your firm, clients, and other professional contacts who are registered with LinkedIn. Don't overlook colleagues at professional organizations with whom you have collaborated. Consider volunteer work, freelance jobs, and other non-employee work experience.

Give to Get: Write a Recommendation

Next, consider writing a recommendation for any contacts who also might be in a position to write for you (as long as you view them favorably).

Doing this service for them will help engender a sense of obligation that they should reciprocate. Once you have completed their recommendation, let them know why you've written for them (because of the specifics underlying your positive view of their work) and ask if they might consider writing a recommendation for you.

Ask Directly for a Recommendation

Or, you can ask for a recommendation. It's easy to request a recommendation via LinkedIn's messaging system. When you request a recommendation, ask the person to recommend you if they can and if they have the time. This way they have an out if they aren't interested in giving you a reference, are precluded by company policy from giving references, or don't feel they know you well enough to recommend your work.

It can be helpful to include with any request a reminder of the shared experience which might serve as a basis for their recommendation. For example: "I thought you might be kind enough to write a LinkedIn recommendation for me given our successful collaboration on the Johnson proposal."

LinkedIn Recommendation Request Example

Dear Margaret:

I hope you’ve been doing well! It was great running into you again - it brought to mind the fun and crazy times when we worked together, like those all-nighters we pulled to make sure those projections were as accurate as possible.

I’m in the process of updating my LinkedIn profile, and it would feel incomplete without a Recommendation from you. When we worked together, I felt I really demonstrated my value and skills, especially with the vendor review in which I was able to shave half a million off our year on year expenses by finding alternatives and influencing skills.

Because of a new direction I hope to take professionally, I’d like to emphasize my influencing skills. If you could speak to that accomplishment, it would be especially helpful to me.

If you aren’t comfortable making such a statement - obviously it’s been a little while since we worked together - I certainly would understand that.

Either way, have a great day!

How to Request a Recommendation

  • Click on your connection’s Profile.
  • Click “More” and select “Request a Recommendation.” (Or scroll down to Recommendations and click “Ask to Be Recommended.”)
  • Personalize your request by following the questions provided, and then add a customized message. Note: the form will provide you with a canned script: “Hi [connection], can you write me a recommendation?” Always delete this message and provide your own. The more personalized you can make your request, the better. Reference common projects and experiences and remind them of your connection and why they might want to recommend you. Better yet, offer to write them a recommendation first. 

    If someone has already written a recommendation for you outside of LinkedIn, you can forward a copy of their document and ask if they might be kind enough to upload one online as part of LinkedIn.

    How to Manage LinkedIn Recommendations

    You'll be able to manage recommendations you’ve received and ask colleagues, clients, managers, employees, and others who can recommend your work for a reference.

    When you receive a recommendation, you'll get notified via email and you'll be able to view the recommendation and request a revision, if necessary. If for some reason you don't want the recommendation on your profile, you don't have to publish it.

    How Not to Get a Reference On LinkedIn

    One important note -- don't ask people you don't know for recommendations. I received an email message recently that said, "I wouldn't mind a few words of recommendation if any of you know me." That's not how to ask for a recommendation, even if you know someone.

    I didn't know the person, so there was no way I could recommend them.

    But even if I did know him, I wouldn't spend my time composing a recommendation for someone who didn't have the courtesy to ask me personally to recommend them. Be respectful of others’ time and you’re much more likely to get the recommendation you want.