How to Request LinkedIn Recommendations

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When you apply for a job through LinkedIn, you may see a post that says "Applicants with recommendations are preferred." These are comments from other LinkedIn members. They describe what it’s like to work with you and recognize and commend you for work done. They appear alongside the positions they relate to on your profile, and hiring managers may view them as they would a job reference.

The best way to get more LinkedIn recommendations is to ask for them, and there are multiple ways to go about doing so. Good recommendations show recruiters and prospective employers that it is worth their time to consider you for a position.

The LinkedIn Recommendations Tool

LinkedIn offers a tool for recommendations that can be accessed from your profile page or from the profile pages of those whose recommendations you seek. In the recommendations section of your own profile is a link labeled, "Ask for a recommendation." You’ll be prompted to list the names of the people you wish to ask and other details. From someone else's profile, click "More" at the top of their profile, then select "Request a recommendation." You'll then be prompted to include other details about the request. There’s no limit to the number of recommendations a user can request.

Personalized Messages

LinkedIn autofills a generic message to send with your request. Personalize the message for a better response. This way, it won’t seem as if you're spamming all your contacts in the hopes of a few good reviews. A personalized message shows you respect the contact’s opinion, so you specifically chose them.

Even better, first send your contact an email outside the platform to check if it’s OK to request a recommendation through the service. You’ll increase the chances that your message is read. Many busy people ignore notifications they receive from the site. In the email, tactfully suggest points you want to be included in the recommendation.

Reciprocal Recommendations

If you're shy to approach a connection, take the initiative and write a recommendation for your contact without being asked. That’s an incentive for your connection to write one for you to return the favor. Most people are nice enough to reciprocate.

Closest Colleagues

Receive the best recommendations from the right people. Connections without a close working relationship with you can’t offer concrete, honest feedback. The recommendation you receive from them may be generic and insincere. Ideal contacts to approach for recommendations include:

  • Colleagues you’ve worked closely with.
  • Those who have seen your skills and expertise in action.
  • Those who are comfortable recommending you.
  • Those who can speak about a variety of your strengths.

Remember, their words will appear on your profile, so what they write about your strengths must be accurate.

Professionalism

When you ask for a recommendation, make it clear that the recipient isn’t under any obligation. Use words like "if it's not too much trouble," or "when you have a chance." This communicates that you respect their time and that they are doing you a favor. This is a professional communication and should be treated as such.

Context

If the recommendation is for a specific position, direct the person to the job ad to provide him with context for the recommendation. It’s another way to suggest the tone of the comments. Briefly, tell him why you’re excited about the position or why you’re the right fit for the job. Your enthusiasm may motivate him to write a stronger reference, and the specifics of the job can help him choose which attributes to praise.

Content Suggestions

Most times, people are eager to write comments, but no one wants to jeopardize someone else’s opportunities. Your connections will appreciate guidance. For example, list the skills and attributes they could write about. You don't have to feed your contacts every word to say. Tell the person your successes and they’ll vouch for them. Did you work on a lucrative contract together? You could word your request:

“If it’s not too much trouble, could you provide some comments on my performance during the XYZ contract that finished ahead of time and under budget?”

Follow-up

Don’t forget to thank the person for their comments. They’ll have taken time out of a busy schedule to fulfill your request. If you’ve approached someone you know is a go-to person for references and recommendations, a handwritten note or small gift may be appropriate. And if you haven't done so already, write a recommendation in return.