Speech bubbles with recommendations

4 easy steps to writing great LinkedIN recommendations

Being asked to write a LinkedIN recommendation is quite the honor, but can be surprisingly daunting. What do you say? What should you not say? How long, or short should it be? Fortunately there’s an easy template to get you started.

For many HR executives a LinkedIn search is one of the first methods of checking out a candidate. Unlike old fashioned letters of recommendation, recruiters can very quickly check out your referees, allowing them to establish your credibility with just a few clicks. So it’s important that your reference is succinct, honest (obviously) and helpful for the person you’re recommending. No pressure, right?

What should I write in a recommendation?

Step 1. Your one line summary

If yours is the only recommendation for a particular position, LinkedIN will display the first 240 characters (approximately) of your recommendation on the profile page. That number goes down to 120 characters if there’s more than one recommendation for the same position. To read more the visitor has to click through.

Add to this the fact that most people skim read, your opening line needs to be short, sweet and pack a lot of punch. Try to capture the essence of your recommendation, with a few specifics. For example:

Beth has exceptional team management skills, … (45 characters)

Alice is a social media guru, her strategies are incredible, … (60 characters)

Step 2. Your working history

It’s a good idea to qualify your relationship with the individual a little. LinkedIN automatically does this by asking you to specify the nature of the relationship, but it’s tiny and a short description will put the rest of your statement into context.

… we worked together for two years on over a dozen projects globally … 

… she expertly managed our New York marketing team for a year …

Step 3. Their most powerful attribute 

You don’t need to talk about what they’ve achieved for you or your company – that should be in their profile already. Instead focus on what makes them stand out. For instance, their ability to command a room, deliver under pressure or get the perfect event speakers. This should be something that’s not easy for the person to communicate in their bio (without seeming overly pretensions), but that is certainly a valuable attribute.

She is always buzzing with ideas,

Her ideas are exceedingly creative and thought provoking,

Step 4. Professional advantages

Whatever the specifics of the role are, it’s beneficial if you can communicate how their personal attributes make them excel in their specific role.

… her energy is contagious, it keeps her everyone inspired. She is so personable that suppliers and vendor’s go out of their way to support her.

… and her implementation is always impressive. She is very calm under pressure, and is always able to manage unforeseen events smoothly.

Step 5. The wrap up

Don;t feel obliged to write cliched statements like “I would recommend him” or “You’d be lukcy to have him on your team”. The fact that you’re providing a recommendation is proof enough of that.

You want to keep your recommendation short enough to be digestable and detailed enough to be helpful. So after you’ve finished describing any distinct advantages they have, simply stop. There really are only four steps!

Here’s what it might look like when you’ve put it together:

Alice is a social media guru, her strategies are incredible and she expertly managed our New York marketing team for a year. Her ideas are exceedingly creative and thought provoking, and her implementation is always impressive. She is very calm under pressure, and is always able to manage unforeseen events smoothly.