7 Tips for LinkedIn Recommendation Etiquette

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While hanging out with some developers, one of them mentioned that he dismisses all LinkedIn recommendations when the two people have made mutual recommendations for each other. Basically he (and supposedly many others) believe the content written by the references in these situations—or at least one of them—is, well, bullshit.

Shoot. Really? Well, then again…

Imagine the recommendations you’ve given or been asked to give via LinkedIn: Have any of them been part of a mutual agreement? Have you asked for a recommendation, making the request less awkward by promising one in return? Would you really, honestly, truly recommend everyone you’ve praised in a couple hundred words or less to everyone who might come across his profile? If not, you’re not alone.

While running a Google search for LinkedIn recommendation best practices, I came across a blog post about a “LinkedIn Endorsement Generator.” The blogger wrote, “Given how common requests for LinkedIn recommendations are and how devalued their currency has become, I’ve thought for a while that it would be helpful to have a tool to generate these automatically.” It’s like Mad Libs for online job references. How depressing to think so many people care so little that they need some sort of automatic, thoughtless way to write a recommendation.

Still, don’t ignore the feature all together. Recommendations, when done right, can be one of the greatest assets in your job search. To get the most out of this LinkedIn profile feature, do the following:

1. Inform anyone who says she’ll recommend you if you do the same for her that you’ve read that some people reject recommendations made mutually. She’ll appreciate the tip—even more so if you go on to write the recommendation.

2. If you would be happy to serve as a contact’s reference on paper, or by phone, offer to recommend her without any favor in return.

3. When asking for a LinkedIn recommendation, make sure you tell the person which skills, in particular, you’d like highlighted. Consider the position or employers you’re interested in—and which skills make you the best fit.

4. When recommending someone, inquire about the above. Illustrate the person’s skills with a brief story or solid facts. (Show, don’t tell!)

5. Make sure your list of recommendations includes at least one manager. Friends do each other favors. Plus, it’s way easier to ask for a recommendation from a person of the same level. People know this.

6. Be authentic. Don’t use some kind of engine to generate a recommendation, because writing some fluffy, insincere paragraph does a disservice to the other person and you. (Remember: Members can see the recommendations you’ve written.)

7. Ask some of the key references whether they would be comfortable speaking to a potential employer on the phone. If so, ask them to include that offer—not their number—at the end of their recommendation.

What LinkedIn recommendation tips would you suggest or have worked for you in the past?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at WetFeet.

This post was previously published on WetFeet.com and has been re-posted with permission.  Our mission is to equip job seekers with the advice, research, and inspiration to plan and achieve a successful career. Follow WetFeet on Twitter at @WetFeet_Career.

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