LinkedIn Recommendations and Endorsements: 5 Do's and 4 Don'ts

What should you do – and not do – when it comes to seeking LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements? Our primer will help you seek public validation like a pro.

While they may not make or break you, LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements could help you land that next job or freelance project. The trick is to seek recommendations the right way. 

Over the past few years, LinkedIn has made it easier to manage recommendations (brief statements summarizing what it's like to work with you) and endorsements (quick confirmations of your specific skills and work-related traits). Here are some do's and don'ts to help you maximize the value of LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements.

LinkedIn Recommendations: The Do's

1. Strike while the iron is hot. If you just wrapped up a big project and a client, colleague or manager lets you know how happy he is with your work, ask him to write a LinkedIn recommendation to let the world know. If you feel more comfortable asking for the recommendation in person or via email, do so. Otherwise, use the handy "Ask for recommendations" tab on your recommendations management page to fill out a form to solicit written kudos. (Log in to your LinkedIn account, then go to

2. Cast a wide net. A strong LinkedIn profile demonstrates how well you work with colleagues at every level. When requesting recommendations, think about the types of projects and skills you want to play up in your profile and then make a list of people who can speak to your experience in those areas. Consider asking a mix of peers, supervisors, direct reports and clients to sing your praises. If you're hoping to highlight a skill you're not using in your current position, reach out to someone you worked with in a former role.

3. Take control. You can reorder both your LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements to put the most relevant and complimentary ones at the top. If you've received numerous endorsements for blogging, but graphic design is the skill you want to be known for, rearrange your endorsements list based on your current career objectives. You can even delete skills that are no longer relevant.

4. Recommend someone yourself. If you want a recommendation from a particular person, first try recommending him or her. While it's not always the case, your connection will likely reciprocate. The "Given" and "Received" tabs enable you to easily view all the recommendations you've given others and vice versa in one place.

5. Stay active and keep your skills relevant. Frequently engage with your connections by offering congratulations on new positions or projects, introducing your connections to one another and keeping your profile current. People will be more likely to recommend you if you're top of mind, engaged and altruistic. Likewise, remember that it will be difficult for others to recognize your top skills if you’re not highlighting them. Many creative roles are rapidly evolving, and people are increasingly being asked to collaborate, opening up opportunities to learn new skills. Evaluate your skills regularly, and list new ones and remove those that are no longer relevant.

LinkedIn Recommendations: The Don'ts

1. Don't skip the basics. Before you start giving and requesting LinkedIn recommendations, make sure your profile page casts you in a favorable and accurate light. Take the time to update your profile with a professional photo, your current title and a catchy, compelling summary statement. It may sound basic, but people want to make sure they're vouching for the right person.

2. Don't ask everyone. While you want to cast a wide net, don't go fishing for every connection in the sea. In other words, don't blast your LinkedIn contacts with a generic call for recommendations. Take the time to personalize each request, tactfully reminding people of the capacity in which you enjoyed working with them — and the skills you hope they'll vouch for.

3. Don't ask people you don't know for recommendations. It's common for people you don't know well to endorse you. After all, it takes a mere click of a button. But refrain from asking individuals you barely (or never) worked with for a recommendation. First of all, it's bad business etiquette. Plus, if someone with a poor professional reputation writes a recommendation for you, it will likely do more harm than good. Likewise, just because an acquaintance endorses you, don't feel obligated to return the favor if you can't vouch for his or her skills.

4. Don't feel hurt if someone doesn't recommend you. Some people simply believe it's in poor taste to ask for a recommendation. Others intend to write a recommendation for you but are so busy they never get around to it. And at some organizations, providing recommendations is against company policy. So, if you ask for a recommendation only to be ignored or denied, just accept it and don't take it personally.

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