You’ve been asked to give LinkedIn recommendations to former colleagues. The pressure is on: Unlike a traditional letter of reference shared with specific employers or hiring teams regarding a particular position, LinkedIn recommendations are public and available to your entire professional network via social media. The approach you take to writing a recommendation on LinkedIn might seriously affect the professional reputation of the person you’re reviewing — for better or worse.
Assuming your goal is to help the person you’re recommending, writing a strong LinkedIn recommendation can boost the candidate’s credentials in the eyes of recruiters, hiring managers and professional peers.
“Recommendations for a candidate are an additional bonus, a cherry on top,” says Alan Fluhrer, talent acquisition manager at W.E. O’Neil Construction. “Just like having a photo increases your chance of getting a contact, a few recommendations add to a person’s credibility.”
Although Fluhrer notes that he reads all LinkedIn profiles of interest to him whether or not they contain recommendations, he explains that “they can only help.”
With this in mind, consider the following pointers to help you deliver an effective and powerful LinkedIn recommendation to colleagues and others with whom you’ve truly enjoyed working.
How to Write a Recommendation on LinkedIn:
— Keep it short, significant and specific.
— Share results, work style and attitude.
— Consider letting the recipient draft the recommendation.
— Post your LinkedIn recommendation.
Keep it short, significant and specific.
Some well-meaning recommendations are nonetheless cringeworthy. The source of the discomfort these cause may be insufficient significance or specificity. Recommendations that highlight underwhelming qualities (“Dustin always arrived on time to work”) or sound generic (“Martha was a reliable employee”) leave readers feeling flat.
Since there’s a 3,000-character limit on LinkedIn recommendations, it’s important to make every word count. Don’t waste your review time sharing basic facts expected in any job. Instead, think of specific strengths that really make the person stand out — for example, that he’s the most responsive communicator you’ve ever worked with, or that she consistently met your department’s goals, below budget.
Share results, work style and attitude.
When you’re in the position to hire someone and are reviewing multiple candidates’ credentials online, you want to get a clear sense of what each person would really be like in the role. You want to know what he or she offers in terms of personal character and professional credentials.
Focusing on the trio of results, work style and attitude can help you strike this balance in a short space. Quantifying a specific outcome that you experienced with your colleague, such as that she designed an award-winning marketing campaign that won your company new business, provides tangible support to back your belief in her.
With results as the centerpiece of your review, you can then ice the cake by briefly describing what you liked about working with the person. Was she someone you could rely on under pressure or in a pinch? Did he make it his mantra to go above and beyond with each project? Give people a taste of the treat you had in working with your co-worker to make it obvious why this person is such a great catch.
Attitude is part of work style, and it’s something essential to most employers. No matter how technically proficient someone is, if she isn’t collaborative, collegial and otherwise great to work with, then she isn’t a great hire. If you appreciated the person’s positive attitude, emphasize that point.
Consider letting the recipient draft the recommendation.
A common practice in writing traditional letters of recommendation is to ask the recipient of the review to write a first draft of what he or she would like you to state in your recommendation. This strategy also works for LinkedIn recommendations, so if you’re busy, it’s fair to request a draft from the person you’re recommending. You have no obligation to post this suggested language, but using this approach saves you time while allowing your colleague to home in on exactly which points he or she hopes you will mention.
Ask the recipient to provide you with the draft outside of the LinkedIn platform so that you can offer edits if needed. Once you and the candidate have agreed on the language that you’ll use, then you can post the recommendation on LinkedIn.
Post your LinkedIn recommendation.
To post your recommendation, click the “more” button on the profile of a first-degree LinkedIn connection, then select “recommend.” Fill out the “relationship” and “position” fields, then click “next.” Type in your recommendation, and then click “send.”
Keep in mind that on this specific social media platform, each member can opt whether or not to display a LinkedIn recommendation she receives, so if you write one that’s not to the recipient’s liking and she hides it, you’ve wasted your time. To that point, if you don’t feel you can give a strong enough recommendation to someone who has requested one, you’re better off declining the ask.
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