Why write a LinkedIn recommendation?
When you say you’re great, it’s like, “Meh.” But when someone else says you’re great, well that causes people sit up and pay attention. As someone who has hired people before, I’ve read a LinkedIn recommendation or two. They matter, whether they’re 10 years old or 1 week old. People often display them on their profiles years after they were written.
It only takes about 10 minutes to help someone you enjoyed working with get their dream job. You don’t need to be a good writer. It’s the thought that counts.
The best kept secret of any LinkedIn recommendation is that they can benefit you, the writer, just as much as the recipient. Writing one is a great way to wind down at the end of a tiring day. It feels good to reminisce on what you love about working with someone. And it feels incredible to drop an unexpected word package of goodies on someone’s digital doorstep. When in search of a little burst of happiness for ourselves, focusing on making others happy is always the best answer. 
Who to write a LinkedIn recommendation for?
You can write a LinkedIn recommendation for anyone you know in a work or study context, but it can help to prioritise as follows.
🥇 People you’ve loved working with. It’s easier to write nice things about great people.
🥈 People early in their career. It’s easy to forget how tough it can be to get anyone to vouch for you when you’re starting out.
🥉 People who don’t need a recommendation. It’s lonely at the top. Successful people like to feel appreciated too. A surprise LinkedIn recommendation can make their day.
To write someone a LinkedIn recommendation:
✅ You must be connected on LinkedIn
✅ They must have uploaded the place of work or study that you have in common to the Experience or Education section of their profile.
If the place you worked or studied together is not on their profile…
→ Send them an invitation to connect or a direct message (on LinkedIn or another platform) and ask them to add it, using the template below:
Hope you’re doing well! Just thought I’d see if you’d like me to write a recommendation on LinkedIn for you? To be able to, you would just need to add the role at [company] you did to the ‘Experience’ section.
Once they have accepted your invitation to connect and updated their profile, you can write them a recommendation.
Prepare to write a great LinkedIn recommendation
Go to their profile page.
Near their profile pic, click ‘More’.
In the screen that pops up, select your Relationship to the person and their Position At The Time you worked/studied with them. If you can’t see the position listed, exit the pop up screen and send them a message, using the template above.
Finally, we come to writing the actual recommendation itself!
The purpose of a LinkedIn recommendation (besides pure happiness) is to give future employers a window into who this person is, what it would be like to work with them and why they would be absolutely crazy not to hire them.
Pretend you are talking to a future employer of this person. What can you say to them that they can’t already glean from reading the person’s LinkedIn profile?
Before you start writing…
- Let go of perfection. It doesn’t exist. The recipient will be grateful you took the time to write anything at all.
- Make a few bullet points listing the unique things they brought to the workplace and why you enjoyed working with them. What makes this person special at work?
- There is a 3000-word limit. The good news is you won’t need to write anything near that. 1 paragraph is enough.
- Do this all important mental preparation: let go of any inkling that you deserve to receive something in return for your act of kindness. This is not why you are doing this. Repeat after me, “I will not expect anything in return.” Instead, simply enjoy the feeling of thinking about someone you enjoyed working with and boasting about them to their future employer, who has no idea how lucky they will get by hiring this person.
- When you write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone, LinkedIn will typically send that person an email to let them know someone has written a recommendation for them. They may not receive this email if they have their notifications turned off, which means they may not see your pending recommendation until they next log into LinkedIn. Which might not be until they’re looking for their next job. Sometimes people just won’t see the recommendation for a while. This is why you should not expect a reply. But most of the time people do reply and their reactions are often amazing.
Structuring your LinkedIn recommendation
First sentence: Say their name and say something you really admire about the person.
Example: “Pippa is the sort of person where you’ll give her something to do and she’ll get it done in half the time to twice the expected standard.”
Second sentence: Expand on the first point, with a specific example.
Example: “When there were hard things to be done, Pippa was one of the first people I would often turn to.”
Third sentence: Say why they would be a catch for any employer. Employers mainly care about the following things: how they work with others, what they add to the culture, how trustworthy they are, what their work ethic is like
Example: “Proactive and unstoppable, she is the sort of person ambitious companies need on their team to be successful.”
Fourth sentence: Reinforce and expand on sentence 1 and 2, reiterating the impact they had when you worked with them. Possibly mention another attribute of theirs that sets them apart.
Example: “The company we worked for benefitted enormously from her skills, can-do attitude, whip-smart ideas and ability to deliver under pressure.”
Fifth sentence: Comment on what you see in their exciting future ahead. The purpose here is to create a feeling in their future employer that they wouldn’t dream of missing out on being a part of this person’s future.
Example: “All signs point to a stellar career in the making.”
3 LinkedIn recommendation examples
“Pippa is the sort of person where you’ll give her something to do and she’ll get it done in half the time to twice the expected standard. When there were hard things to be done, Pippa was one of the first people I would often turn to. Proactive and unstoppable, she is the sort of person ambitious companies need on their team to be successful. The company we worked for benefited enormously from her skills, can-do attitude, whip-smart ideas and ability to deliver under pressure. All signs point to a stellar career in the making.”
“Christine is one of the most exceptionally quick learners I’ve worked with. An incredible team player, she is the sort of person that makes you excited to come to work. Whether it be an early stage start-up, like when I worked with her, or an established business, Christine is one of those rare people that you can trust to deliver results fast on the things that really matter. She also has a great sense of humour, is an excellent listener and brings her whole self to work. Her positive impact on the culture of a workplace cannot be understated. The stage is very much set for a new outstanding leader in NZ business.”
“Juls is a PR powerhouse on the way to somewhere really special. Always prepared and on point, she is exactly the kind of person you want to stand shoulder to shoulder with during the ups and downs of business. There are plenty of these in the start-up space, where Juls thrives. Especially good in a crisis, she is a great strategist and outstanding at seeing the bigger picture and communicating it. She is a fantastic listener and makes it really easy to contribute, even when you don’t have much PR expertise as I did not when we started working together three years ago. Her relentless positivity makes her a hit with journalists and TV producers, along with CEOs. I am really excited to see what becomes of Juls and how she continues to exercise her massive leadership potential.”
- 🕊️ I’ll say it again: give freely and expect nothing in return. The moment you hit ‘send’ on the recommendation is the moment you have gotten everything out of the process that you can reasonably expect.
- 📏 Measure your impact. People who receive a LinkedIn recommendation can choose not to display it publicly. A good measure of whether your recommendations are hitting the mark is whether people choose to display them publicly. Check back on their profiles to see if they decided to display your recommendation.
- 🎩 Don’t worry about sounding formal. Write in your natural voice. Saying what you’ve written out loud to yourself can be a great way to test how it comes across.
- 🫂 When you start a new job, add your new colleagues on LinkedIn! It saves you having to do it later and makes the job of writing recommendations easier. Any recent new hires? Add them on LinkedIn! It helps people feel welcome from Day 1.
- 📅 If you really want to up your LinkedIn recommendation writing game, schedule half an hour in your calendar each weekday or weekend to write recommendations for people.
- 🆖 Don’t bother with the ‘request a recommendation’ button. You’ll notice this enticing little button sitting just above the ‘recommend’ button. Focusing on giving recommendations is significantly more fulfilling and just happens to be a more effective way to go through life in the long run.
- 🎁 Sometimes people will want to write you a LinkedIn recommendation back – let them! If you don’t like what they write, you can choose not to display it on your public profile.
- Write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone you love working with!
- Read Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. It’s the best book on giving I’ve ever read and changed my mind on the concepts of giving and taking.
For some excellent ideas on other ways to give, try this article and this article.
 There are countless studies that show the best way to make yourself happy is to focus on making others happy.
The video version of this article can be found here.
Art by Sierra Truong
Thanks to Christine Chow, Louie Curnow, Georgina Palmer and Sierra Truong for reading drafts of this.
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