Submitted by buhlerar on
I am having trouble finding the answer to this question on the forums: how should I write a LinkedIn recommendation?
We're closing down our company and I'm laying off my entire team at the end of the month (they all know, so I'm not risking any premature disclosure here). I personally don't consider recommendations on LinkedIn to be terribly powerful, but it's one way (of many) to help my folks out. And even if the impact is small in terms of their job search, if nothing else it's a public thanks for a job well done during a very difficult period where there was no future at this company. And a couple of them have specifically asked for a recommendation. I am happy to do this -- there are no performance concerns that would make me hesitate to provide one.
I have listened to/read the shownotes for the "LinkedIn for Managers" and "How to Provide a Reference" podcasts. The References cast seems to steer me toward a recommendation very tailored to the specific opportunity, which seems incompatible with a generic LinkedIn recommendation that would be visible for years. The LinkedIn podcast encouraged managers to provide recommendations, but didn't really lay out the format.
Obviously I'll do my best to provide a helpful recommendation, but since this is really the first time I've done this I'd like some concrete guidance on how to structure my comments.
What skills and accomplishments can you highlight?
My general rule with LinkedIn recommendations is to ask the person what skills or accomplishments they'd like to have highlighted in their recommendation. This has largely been influenced by the MT recommendations on references, but I think it allows me to a) ensure I'm giving an effective recommendation, and b) highlight some of the results that the person has achieved. I send a message along the lines of:
I'd love to provide a recommendation for you, but I'd like to know exactly what accomplishments or skills you would like to have highlighted in your profile. I'd rather provide a meaningful recommendation for you that cites specific things you've done than leave you with a limp recommendation of 'Aaron's a pretty good guy.' Let me know, and I'll see if I can write something that does you justice."
If I've worked with them in a capacity that has allowed me to speak to that, I'll gladly provide the recommendation, otherwise I'll decline.
Target to skills
When I'm writing LinkedIn recommendations I tend to do as as BFFRANKLIN says and ask the person what skills and attributes they want me to emphasise. Some are able to answer the question, some aren't and some just won't. If they're struggling I tend to ask what they would look for in a job ad as required skills and attributes to make them think they would have a good chance at getting the job. So long as I believe they do have those skills I use that as my basis.
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"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack
Thanks both of you for your advice. Makes sense.
Better than a sharp stick in the eye...
I hope this isn't committing a terrible forum faux pas. The Public Speaker's podcast (Lisa B. Meyers) did a LinkedIn referral podcast back in November, 2009 titled "How to Write Better LinkedIn Recommendations." It's short, and sort of glosses over how to identify the subject's personal brand, but it should help you get some creative juices flowing.
Praise, Praise, Praise
Don't worry about topic or personal brand. Praise early, praise often (you can re-recommend), and speak to strengths you perceive the person has. If you are honest and accurate, I have never had anyone not accept a recommendation. Plus, I give many of them. They might not be "the best" but they are always appreciated.