Writing an excellent LinkedIn recommendation is an often-overlooked skill that can help you stand out from the pack.
A recommendation that makes people take notice can help out a connection in their search for future work. And it’s key for building long-term relationships for your own career.
Luckily, writing a great one doesn’t take long if you know what to look for.
What Makes a Great LinkedIn Recommendation?
1. It’s Attention-Grabbing
The number one rule of writing is that you’re always fighting for your audience’s attention. If you can wow them with an opening line that hooks them in and makes them want to read on, you’ve already won.
Think about it like an elevator pitch. If you had ten seconds to make someone remember this person, what would you tell them? Was there a standout moment where you went, “Wow, this person knows what they’re doing”? What about a time they saved your bacon?
Ted Wang, in his recommendation for Expa founder Garrett Camp, starts with a bang: “Garrett is an absolute genius.” He follows it up by justifying his use of that “big, bold” word, talking about Garrett’s outlook and expertise.
2. It’s Personal
Recommendations are worth more if they come from people who know the recommendee well. Try to let your audience know that you enjoyed your time working together.
For example, Chris Busbee writes in his recommendation for former New York Road Runners CEO Michael Capiraso that he has known him for about 10 years, and greatly misses working together. His addition that Michael’s managerial skills compare to that of a “head of state” is a great turn of phrase that readers won’t forget.
3. It’s Specific
Writing something like, “Jane performed the duties of her work in an above-average way” doesn’t tell anyone anything. Show that you know the person well, and that you’re the right person to talk about their qualifications.
In his recommendation for a former employee, Jocelyn Rogers, Michael Capiraso notes that she’s “highly skilled” in procurement and purchasing. Then he goes into detail, adding that she’s great at:
- Developing strategy, creating a plan, and executing it
- Overseeing a complete end-to-end process
- Developing the best workflow for a specific goal
And he added that she “has excellent communications and management skills.”
In just 77 words, Michael gives Jocelyn a standout recommendation that gives future employers confidence that she’ll be able to pull off specific, demanding tasks.
4. It Tells a Story
Anecdotes tend to stick better in people’s heads than a list of superlatives. If you can, write about a time when this person went above and beyond.
Jon Davie, in his recommendation for GBG’s James Miller, writes about a staff feedback initiative in which James “helped us figure out every aspect of the project, from (devising) the methodology to carrying out interviews, analyzing results and presenting recommendations.”
How to Write or Request a LinkedIn Recommendation
LinkedIn has a built-in way to request recommendations from those you’ve worked with before.
Just go to the 1st-degree connection’s profile, click the “More…” button in their introduction section, and select “Request a recommendation.”
You can also recommend first-degree connections by following the same process but selecting “Recommend” instead.
LinkedIn recommendations are key social proof that back up someone’s professional claims on their profile.
Plus, if you’re known as someone who can write a killer recommendation, you’ll find that more people will be willing to show you some love as well.