Marben Bland

Speaker WriterStrategist

The Hidden Power of LinkedIn Recommendation   


With over 200 million members and two people joining per second, LinkedIn is the professional networking and job search tool. I have written extensively about the importance of having a robust profile, and creating, posting, likening and sharing rich content.

A LinkedIn recommendation, which is an expression of praise, approval, or support, has become the equivalent of a job reference giving recruiters and hiring manager's great insight into your work habits and potential. However, I believe the power of making and receiving recommendations has been lost with the rise in popularity of the "skill endorsement" tool launched by LinkedIn this year.

The Quality of Your Recommendations 

Lately in reading profile recommendations I have observed that the quality of what is written has decreased. Here's a typical one, from one of my clients: "Alicia's energy and enthusiasm is contagious-she knows how to motivate and get the best from the people on her team. I had the privilege of working for her and she is a rare gem!"   This and other poorly written copies have resulted in recommendations once a highly prized part of the LinkedIn experience to deteriorate into a seldom used list of empty accolades.

The Hidden Power of the Recommendation

Despite its drop in popularity and use the LinkedIn recommendation remains a powerful tool for showcasing your capabilities to a potential worldwide audience of over 200 million contacts.   Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM and is one of the premier minds in the career management field. In a recent post in he outlined three advantages of incorporating recommendations into your LinkedIn strategy:

3 Advantages of Recommendations


1. Recommendations can help your cause.


Recruiters and hiring managers do read recommendations and take them into account; though it's unlikely that a recommendation would make or break a LinkedIn member's chance of getting hired. "It's additive but not evaluative," says Ernst & Young's Nash. Brian G. Clark, a managing partner at executive search firm Kensington International, says his firm treats them like references; recruiters always probe beyond information submitted by the candidate.





2. Recruiters use recommendations to search out new candidates.


Writing a recommendation can produce an unexpected benefit for the writer. Katherine Charapko, Executive Director of New York executive search firm, Amrop Battalia Winston, says her recruiters use recommendations to hunt down new prospects. "It's a wonderful way to link through to people you may not otherwise find," she contends.





3. Recommendations have unpredictable potential.


The best case scenario comes when a recruiter or hiring manager happens to know the person who wrote your recommendation, either personally or by reputation. Sometimes a second degree connection can pop up and bolster a recommendation's strength. For instance, if I'm thinking of hiring Fred, and a close contact of mine knows the person who is recommending him, I may reach out through my friend to get in touch with the person who wrote the recommendation.




3 Tips for Getting Into the Recommendations Game


OK, now that you know some of the distinct advantages recommendations can bring; let's turn back to my colleague Arnie Fertig for tips on how to get the most out of getting and receiving recommendations.


1. Give recommendations to get recommendations

By far giving someone a recommendation is the best way to get a recommendation in return.  How? Pick people out of your contacts that you know well and have a good idea of their work. For example, if you have worked with that person on a project be specific in describing exactly what the person did, including the outcome of the project. Example: "In the last six months, Carla exceeded every monthly sales target by an average of 40%."  Now the beauty of giving a recommendation of someone you've worked with on a project is that LinkedIn will prompt them to recommend you and given that you were specific, they will be specific on your recommendation. 


2. Help the writer out

If there is a peer or someone you know well and would like to have them recommend you on LinkedIn.  I strongly suggest that you call and ask if they would recommend you; then offer to draft the recommendation yourself, for them to approve. Remember people are busy and they are more than willing to help you out if you can help them. 


3. Get a range of recommendations.

It's best to have recommendations from a boss, a colleague and a subordinate, to give readers a sense of how you work at all levels. If you are an independent contractor, get recommendations from at least three clients.


Elements of a Great Recommendation

Finally Arnie advises that not all recommendations are equal. Writing simply, "Sally will be great at whatever she sets her mind to. She is a wonderful person and you should hire her" may prove more harmful than helpful. Instead, be specific. Tell how you know the person, how long you have known him or her, what he or she has done that impressed you; and what value the person has brought to his or her team, department or employer. At our upcoming LinkedIn Simplified Seminar in Pittsburgh on September 18, we will dive headlong into recommendations providing you with a template for writing recommendations that your connections will value and will enhance your brand.  Click on the link below to register.  





Linked Simplified Seminar

 September 18, 2013 Pittsburgh

Register Now

Marben Bland
 MDB Redbox 

Marben Bland is a Writer, Speaker and Strategist focused on working with emerging biotech and high tech companies. Comment on this post at

He writes the weekly How to be a LinkedIn Ninja blog and is a popular speaker at trade shows and seminars. Call Marben today at 608.358.1309 to have him train your company or speak at your next event.


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