A Recommendation on LinkedIn is More Than a Thumbs Up

Recommendations are important to have on LinkedIn.  They add an element of what’s called “social proof”.  The people who recommend you are putting their reputations on the line since their names, pictures and a link to their profile is clearly visible. Potential employers are looking at what others say about working with you.  Potential employees are looking to see if they want to work for you. Potential clients are looking.  Yes, of course, all the recommendations should say good things but you can really get a good sense of them by what exactly how it is said.


How many recommendations should you have on your LinkedIn profile?   There’s no one answer here. It depends on many factors including your industry and the number of years you’ve been in the business world. You should have at least a few and one of those should be no older than two years. Is there such a thing as too many recommendations?  Maybe, but that’s not a common problem.

I don’t recommend that you ask a lot of people for recommendations all at the same time.  I suppose it’s not unreasonable that you might ask a large number of connections for recommendation at the same time – when you’re looking for a new job perhaps or starting a business.  If the dates of your many recommendations all come in at the same time, I think it devalues them.  Ask regularly and add at least one or two a year.  If you do receive a number at one time, consider holding off on accepting some so the dates are spread out.


Make a list of people you could ask. They might include clients, co-workers, bosses, vendors, employees, professors (for college students), etc.  If you’ve been out of the workforce for some time, consider asking people who you worked with at volunteer organizations. Please don’t ask people who don’t know your work or your character at all.


It’s really helpful if you suggest to people what you’d like them to talk about – did you do an amazing job on a project for them? Did you increase their sales? People are often willing to write a recommendation but it can seem too much work to think of what to say.  The easier you make it, the more likely they are to respond.


Note: You must be connected to the person to ask for or give a recommendation.

Choose wisely.  If the person has little or no credibility themselves or no real knowledge of your work, don’t ask them for a recommendation.  I occasionally get one from someone trying to be nice but I don’t accept them to show on my profile, e.g. “Sandra is a naturally enthusiastic person and her LinkedIn skills are phenomenal! I am glad I had the chance to meet her.”  This was from someone I met once at a networking event. I was flattered but it isn’t what I want on my profile. I just said thank you and deleted it.

Ideally, you want to approach people who know your work well and can speak intelligently to the capabilities that will matter the most to your future client, employer or employee (yes, they’re looking too!)

It’s a good idea to ask the person that you want a recommendation while you’re talking with them or perhaps by asking by phone or email if they’re willing.  Be careful that once they say yes, you do the official request through LinkedIn as you can’t add the recommendation yourself if they send it by any other means, e.g. an email.


Are you working in a new field than all your previous recommendations reference?  Be sure to ask them to mention the area of expertise you want them to talk about, especially if they knew your work from a different industry, e.g., you used to be in marketing or business development and now you’re focused on being a Board member or you used to do event management and now you do integrated marketing or you used to be a financial planner and now you’re in real estate.

Many people are happy to give you a recommendation but they don’t know what to say and may even ask you to write a recommendation for them to submit.  Give them some guidelines as to what you’d like them to talk about – e.g. a project you worked on, the speed and ease or great results from working with you.  Don’t use the generic LinkedIn request message which is something along the lines of “I want to ask you for a recommendation.”


Good recommendations may include:

Specific accomplishments

“I am getting 70% more visibility on LinkedIn since working with Sandra.”

Sandra shared her wealth of knowledge with networking, wordsmithing, and design on LinkedIn. She helped increased my visibility and within a couple of weeks, I gained a new contract with another to follow a few short weeks after that.”

Focus on a specialty

“If you are like me and are pursuing multiple career paths at the same time getting your story right can be tricky and would definitely recommend the services of Sandra Clark. She’s a pro, and in my case, in just one session was able to unravel and reorganize my experience and bring clarity that I have lacked for a long time”

Sandra was a HUGE help in perfecting my Linked In profile. My industry is real estate where networking and how you present yourself is critical to your success.”

Shows your personal style

Sandra gets right to the essence of your personality, translating it brilliantly into a profile. With a kind, but firm, inspiration and definitive positioning, you will be amazed at what you achieve together. “

“I had no idea how powerful LinkedIn can be, and also how much control I can have over what the world does or doesn’t see. Sandra coached me through thinking about how to present myself, and the tools in LinkedIn to do this. What makes her such an effective coach is her passion for learning about how to leverage LinkedIn and her compassionate and effective teaching style.”


There are a couple of ways but this is easiest.

Go to the person’s profile you want to ask for a recommendation and click on the “more” button next to the “messages” button. You’ll see “Request a Recommendation.”  Follow the steps from there.  Sometimes it’s a little tricky because the right category isn’t there, e.g, they were in the audience when you were a speaker.  You’ll have to just choose what’s closest.


  1. Hi Jeff, I hope you’re loving your new job! I’m writing to ask if you’d be willing to write a LinkedIn recommendation for me that highlights my digital marketing skills from when we worked together last year. Ideally, I’d love for you to outline the experience you had with me through the new product launch last year. I’m working hard to transition into a senior marcom role, and most of the employers I’m considering put a strong focus on digital marketing.
  2. Hi Sharon, you mentioned that you really appreciated the work I did when I was project manager for the last product release. You mentioned in my review that I delivered on time, on target and under budget and that I was also an excellent team leader.  I’m growing my professional portfolio and I would really appreciate it if you would be willing to write a LinkedIn recommendation mentioning those accomplishments.

You’ll have to find your own words for your own situation and for the person you’re asking – whether a formal or informal tone is appropriate and how much you lead them in what you want them to say.


Use the recommendations from LinkedIn on your website if you have a business. Tell people up front or ask them if you’re going to do this.  It’s easy to copy and paste (and even use their LinkedIn picture) on your website but you can’t do it the other way around – i.e. copy from your website or from Yelp to your LI profile.  If you have a couple of recommendations on your website that you really can’t ask to do again on LinkedIn, you could copy it and use as a brief quote directly into your LI summary or relevant job description.  You can also add a PowerPoint slide deck or PDF to attach to your profile with those recommendations if you have no other choice.


I look to see what recommendations you’ve given as well as those you’ve received. It speaks to your character, especially if you’re a manager, that you take care of your employees by recognizing their accomplishments.  I don’t recommend giving a recommendation to the same person who’s given you one.  It may be appropriate (e.g. you each provided a service to the other) but just don’t do it at the same time so it shows up at the top of each person’s profile.

Miscellaneous answers about recommendations


You can ask for revisions or you can simply dismiss it.  If you dismiss it, it doesn’t send a message to the giver.  It just won’t appear on your profile.


Yes, you can.  Perhaps you’re wondering why you might do so.  I get recommendations from everyone from students to C-level execs and if one from a student or service provider is the latest recommendation I’ve received, appearing at the top of my list just before I meet with an exec, it might not be quite what I want to show so prominently. I love showing a student recommendation just before I’m teaching a class at the local university There are many other reasons that you want to keep it but don’t want to show it just now.


This is an interesting question.  Sometimes you’re happy to give a recommendation but don’t really want it to be the first thing (or the only thing that shows.) I had a client who gave an enthusiastic recommendation for the dog sitter of her beloved dogs but it was the only recommendation she’d ever given and she hadn’t received any.  It wasn’t quite the brand she wanted to show as a senior marketing professional.  To hide it on your profile but still have it visible on their profile, go to the editing pencil next to the Recommendations section, then choose “Given” and then click on the “visible to” eyeball and then choose “only you”.  It will still show up on the other person’s profile, just not yours. You can also delete it if you don’t feel you can recommend that person anymore.


Endorsements have some value and are much easier to collect but they are no substitute for recommendations.

I would love to talk with you about the benefits to you of having a great profile on LinkedIn, how to use it without it taking up more time than you can afford, what’s appropriate for you to share on LinkedIn, and how I could help you with your professional goals. Please schedule a free 20-minute strategy consultation to see how I might be able to assist you.