How NOT to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

Everyone wants to be complete. That’s why that little bar telling you you haven’t completed your LinkedIn profile to 100% is terrible. It compels and taunts you until you have completed your profile. Getting the bar to 85% is easy because you can do all that stuff on your own. It’s the other 15% that comes from other people’s recommendations that’s hard to do.

So, how do you ask for a recommendation? Pretty much in any way other than this:

LinkedIn Recommendations - The Anti-Social Media

The best LinkedIn recommendations will come from people who are so impressed by your work that they have to tell the world. When you have to ask for one, do it, but don’t offer your left thumb just for an online recommendation.

So, has anyone gotten an awkward LinkedIn recommendation request? Ever get one from a stranger? What depths will people sink to in their attempt to be known as “the best professional ever?”


29 Responses to How NOT to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

  1. Valerie March 30, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    A friend/former coworker once called me and said he had a favor to ask with two options. I could either give him a LinkedIn recommendation or I could cold call the hiring manager for this job he was applying for to sing his praises. I begrudgingly posted the LinkedIn recommendation.

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      This sounds like an ultimatum. “Recommend me or face the consequences!”

  2. John March 30, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    In a previous job I had a customer sign up to do a lot of advertising with my company but never paid their bills so we canceled their program and sent them to collections. “The check is in the mail” and “What do you mean you haven’t been paid?!?! I told accounts payable to take care of that” type of guy. A few months later when he was looking for work he asked for a recommendation more than once. It felt very good to ignore him!

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Nothing like the smug feeling of being passive aggressive. :)

  3. Lydia March 30, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    You’re funny, Jay. Love this drawing :)

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Just funny looking. Have you seen my avatar? It’s like some kid drew half of it. ;)

  4. aburtch March 30, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Since most people don’t just automatically head to your LinkedIn page and leave a recommendation, I wouldn’t think it would not be a bad thing to ask (or politely nudge). Does anyone have any helpful tips on polite, non-pressure ways of asking?

    • Karen Siwak March 30, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      @aburtch The trick is to get recommendations that say more than “she’s such a nice person” or “she’s a really hard worker”. Try something like this: “I’m going to be applying for several positions that require strong project management skills, and would love it if you could comment on how I performed on the NAME project. There’s no pressure, and if you would rather not, I understand”.

      • aburtch March 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

        Thanks Karen. That’s a good tip that a specific request will garner a better recommendation.

        Sorry about the double negative, should be “I wouldn’t think it would be a bad thing to ask (or politely nudge).”

      • Jay March 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

        This is the most useful information on this blog in weeks. Thanks Karen!

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      Have you tried passive aggressive threats?

      I always find being polite is the best way.

  5. Dean March 30, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Anyone who pays any attention to LinkedIn recommendations or gives them any credibility is seriously misguided. Have you ever actually seen one than didn’t indicate that the person wasn’t capable of walking on water? Its a painfully quid pro quo exercise that devalues any recommendation that might have true validity.

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      I need to hire these people who can walk on water.

  6. Morgan March 30, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I think it’s weird that there are people out there begging for recommendations. Usually if you’ve had a pleasant experience with someone, they’re happy to leave a recommendation and vise versa.

    Though, a lot of people don’t even know there IS such a thing as recommending people on LinkedIn.

    That’s why I’m usually the first one to ask for a recommendations and what I usually hear back is, “Oh wow! I didn’t know we could recommend!”

    I don’t see anything wrong with recommendations, but so far, it hasn’t really hurt, nor helped me. It’s just kinda…there.

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Same here. Recommendations are like bonus points. They’re on there, but they don’t matter too much.

      • Rebecca March 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

        I have to disagree, as a former hr professional, i look at someone’s linked in profile and recommendations. I take it with a grain of salt, since they are solicited, but it’s still important to me to see what kinds of things people are writing.

        Also, as a recent job seeker it was helpful to me to have lots of recommendations. In fact i landed the job I’m in now because of it. The first question my boss asked me when he called me is “Why do people on Linked In think you are so great?”. A week later i had the job.

  7. Deb Ng March 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    My favorite is when I’m asked to give recommendations on LinkedIn but I have no clue who the people are? I mean, I may have heard their name once or twice in the past, but how would I ever recommend them for a gig if I never worked with them? Seriously people. I have to know you well or have worked with you in the past to endorse you for a job.

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Speaking of which, will you recommend me? ;)

  8. Deb Ng March 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Sure, all you have to do is ask.

  9. Rand March 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I had a person who I’d just known online to recommend them once. So I posted “I just met this person online. Seems nice.”

    Funny, it never got posted…

    • Jay March 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      You know, I’d appreciate anyone saying that I “seem nice.” People get this impression I’ma crazy asshole for some reason.

      • Rand March 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

        Maybe it’s the hair. Just saying… lol

  10. Kama March 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    I was laid off in the midst of the Great Recession. While I had always asked my connections to recommend me on LinkedIn if they said nice things about my work, once I was laid off I made a concerted effort to dig through my contacts and ask folks I’d worked with in the past, I had hired as vendors, partnered with, etc. to provide a recommendation if they were so inclined.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and someone who never provided me a recommendation asked me for a recommendation.

    • Jay March 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      Did you recommend that they don’t give recommendations?

  11. Rebecca March 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Recommendations are also important for more than job hunting. Recommendations give you credibility that you know how to do your job, it shows potential clients or vendors that you are knowledgeable and they should use you or your company!

    • Jay March 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      Good point. For me though, recommendations for my blog seems bit redundant. I always hope the work speaks for itself.

  12. Shannon Steffen | Human SEO April 4, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    My practice is simple - I give one recommendation a week to whomever I choose. I decline all incoming recommendation requests with the reply that I recommend one person per week based upon my first-hand knowledge of their professional attributes.

    This has worked very well as there are many people I don’t know well enough to give recommendations.

    It’s a very delicate situation but I believe that if you are upfront with your recommendation practices, most LinkedIn connections are very respectful of your practice.


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