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How to Makeover Your LinkedIn Recommendations

14 Nov, 2016

How to Makeover Your LinkedIn Recommendations

Do you know that LinkedIn doesn’t consider your profile complete unless you have at least 2-3 recommendations? Clearly they must think recommendations are important, given that having a “complete” profile on LinkedIn makes you likely to show up in 40% more searches.

When you add that fact to the reliance recruiters place on LinkedInmore than 95% of them use it as their #1 candidate search tool – you can see why it’s imperative for you to get your recommendations in order.

It’s important to clarify that LinkedIn recommendations are different than LinkedIn endorsements:

  • LinkedIn recommendations are the short testimonials that others who know you write about your candidacy.
  • LinkedIn endorsements are the “votes” others give attesting to the strength of your top skills.

LinkedIn recommendations for job seekers are helpful to recruiters and hiring executives in that they attest to your positive qualities, skills, and past experiences, which is why they are generally read by those who visit your profile.

Any professional with a LinkedIn profile should have 2-3 recommendations minimum; more if you are in active or passive job search mode. In you are in or planning a job search, you will find it beneficial to have 1-2 recommendations for at least each of your last several roles.

Part of the problem with the LinkedIn recommendations that most job seekers have is that they are:

  • Nonexistent: Having zero LinkedIn recommendations is a very poor idea that is sure to weaken your profile. At a minimum, having no recommendations is likely to rob your profile of vital key words.
  • Too Few to Be Helpful – Having just one or two recommendations when you have a long work history of 10 years or more is a bad idea. It creates the idea that you don’t care to provide recommendations, you can’t get them, or your previous peers and supervisors don’t have anything positive to say about you.
  • Weak – Recommendations that offer little to no insight into your character, skills, and experience are hardly worth reading and consequently add no real value to your profile. Without a strong testimony to your uniqueness, there’s no compelling reason for recruiters and hiring executives to believe your brand.
  • Rambling – Some recommendations you’ll read on LinkedIn have no clear point to make – they wander around in writing without promoting you or your career brand. What you need is a recommendation that specifically mentions your strengths in an unequivocal manner.
  • Irrelevant – Too many LinkedIn recommendations talk about how the writer would like an opportunity to work again with you or hire you again. This isn’t the point. This isn’t a formal rehire affirmation, it’s a snapshot into your skills and experience in action.


To improve your LinkedIn recommendations, try these three techniques:

  • Choose the right people from who to request recommendations. Ideally, your recommendations should include current and former bosses, colleagues, industry peers, customers/clients, and/or vendors. Choose those people who know the most about your work and can speak most directly to the quality of your performance.
  • Choose the right periods and aspects of your tenure to showcase. When you request a recommendation from someone, be directive—tell them which skills, strengths, or experiences you want them to include. If you collaborated on a key project together, for example, that you think would present your skills in a great light, make sure you mention to your recommendation writer that they mention this project in what they write on your behalf.
  • Choose the right key words to highlight in each recommendation. Above all else, it’s critical to employ key words in your recommendations. Once you’ve identified your Top 10 profile key words, make sure each recommendation utilizes at least one to two of these.

You may wonder why I made the final suggestion above. Consider that when a recruiter or hiring executive conducts a candidate search on LinkedIn, they quite often list key words in the search feature that they want the job seekers they are looking for to possess.

Once LinkedIn processes one of these searches, they highlight the requested key words throughout the profile. Hence, by making sure that you include relevant key words in your LinkedIn recommendations, you are boosting the key word account of your profile which will in turn increase your search ranking. You’re also helping to draw your reader’s attention to insightful recommendations about you which surely can’t hurt.

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  1. Lesa Edwards

    I found that same 95% statistic as well – it was on a list of LI statistics I found a few years ago (not sure what it was called). Great article – thanks for reinforcing what I tell my clients!

  2. Lauren Milligan

    Wow – I didn’t realize that so many recruiters look at people’s recommendations. Where did that number (over 95%) come from? What’s the source of that survey or report?

    • It comes from multiple sources, Lauren, like Jobvite recruiter surveys. That stat has been around a few years and has been affirmed by multiple sources. 🙂

  3. Deborah James

    Awesome article, Cheryl. I always tell my clients this; however, they just don’t believe me. Perhaps they will now. Kudos to you.

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