How to Write a Great LinkedIn Recommendation


Yesterday we discussed the pitfalls of a vague recommendation in LinkedIn. Today we look at the characteristics of a good LinkedIn recommendation.

A good LinkedIn recommendation is brief and to the point. It should be complete in two or three sentences:

When writing a recommendation for someone (“the seeker”), you must put the recommendation in context by telling the reader four things:

1. What was your relationship to the seeker?
2. What services was the seeker hired to do?
3. What did the seeker actually deliver to you/your company?
4. What was the result or outcome for you/your company of receiving these services?

Let’s examine these factors in a bit more detail.

1. What was your Relationship?
Were you a customer, co-worker, supervisor, employee, advisor? A rave review from one’s mother or best friend is likely different from a rave review from a corporate customer known for their own high standards.

2. What services was the seeker hired to do?
Be brief and very specific. You can usually answer points #1 and #2 together:

For example:
a. “Joe took over a failing documentation project in mid-stream ….”
b. I engaged Jane to coordinate the hiring and orientation of 50 technical employees for Acme…”
c.”Terry was technical lead on the Acme project when I was project manager…”

3. What was delivered?
A potential employer or partner wants to know not only that the seeker is good at what they do, but what specific services were delivered that pleased you. It’s better to be brief and specific here, rather than general and fulsome.

4. What was the outcome?
Give a phrase or sentence describing why the seeker made a difference – what changed as a result of what the subject delivered.

Let’s add points #3 and #4 to the three recommendations:

a. Joe took over a failing documentation project in mid-stream ….recovering the schedule and the customer relationship.

b. When 15 additional technical personnel were required for new project with tight deadlines…Jane located qualified personnel in three weeks. We have been using her recruiting services ever since.

c. Terry was the technical lead on the Acme project when I was project manager…Terry introduced two significant improvements to the xyz design process, allowing the team to re-use code and deliver the product on time to our South American customers.”

Each of these recommendations is very specific. It does not matter if a potential employer or partner wants a slightly difference service from the one described here. By being specific, you give confidence in your credibility as a recommender. You have given the potential employer or partner a personal insight into the seeker’s style and accomplishments. A truly effective recommendation prompts the potential employer or partner to follow up with the seeker by phone or in person.

Point to Ponder: A good recommendation answers exactly the same key questions as a good resumé (see Tasks – Achievements – Outcomes)

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