LinkedIn recommendations: recommended

To have or not to have?  That is the question (apologies to Shakespeare.)  

In my book, there is absolutely no doubt.  Have. 

There are people who argue against LinkedIn recommendations and their argument goes something like this: “Who would include bad recommendations?  Of course they are all going to be good.  Therefore, they cannot be trusted and are of no value.”

These cynics are partially correct.  It’s true that you won’t find a negative recommendation about someone on their own LinkedIn profile.  Why would they include such a thing?  And, are there many recruiters and hiring managers who don’t put much value on recommendations, or even read them?  Yes, there are. 

However, the points in favor of including recommendations on your profile outweigh the points against.  As I mentioned in my post Power of the profile, they can be beneficial if done right.  I’ll outline below some reasons to include recommendations, as well as provide a few pointers in making your recommendations work for you. 

Why you should include recommendations on your LinkedIn profile:

  • Without at least 3 recommendations, your profile will not reach 100% completeness.  This negatively affects where you show up in search results.  Say, for example, that a recruiter does a search for profiles which match certain criteria. Do you want to give yourself the best odds you can? Of course you do.  Consider this quote from the LinkedIn Help Center:                                                                                          

 “Users with Recommendations in their profiles are three times more likely to receive relevant offers and inquiries through searches on LinkedIn. Recommendations written about you are visible to members within your network and also to Fortune 500 companies that use the LinkedIn Recruiter corporate tool.”

  • Many recruiters actually do read those recommendations.  And, they look at who wrote them.  If you have a recommendation from a former manager talking about your amazing Java skills and you are branding yourself as a web-based software developer, do you think this will help or hurt the recruiter’s impression of you? 
  • A recommendation of you shows up on the profile of the person who made it.  This gives you additional exposure and the chance to be found by someone who may be looking for someone just like you. 

Here’s how to make the most of your recommendations:

  • Ask for recommendations from people with strong professional reputations who know your work first-hand.  Having a variety of current or former managers, clients, colleagues and employees is a good idea.  Also, recommendations on your most recent work experience is usually best, but it is advisable to have at least one from each job or company in the last several years.
  • Ask them to be specific about some of your skills or achievements.  Saying “he’s a great guy; really enjoyed working with him” is not nearly as helpful as “he was my go-to guy for creating impactful marketing plans under tight deadlines.”  You may even tell them you are trying to highlight your skills in a certain area, and ask them to write about those.
  • Obtain a minimum of 3 recommendations.  You don’t need to go overboard – 30 recommendations is not necessarily better than 10.  Think quality vs. quantity, but at least have 3.

It’s that simple!

To get some recommendations from your preferred connections, simply ask.  Also, consider proactively providing one for them.  You never know when it might help them, and perhaps they will return the favor.  Be professionally generous and it will come back to you.

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