How to ask for a recommendation

Man looking at phone before crossing the street

A recommendation of your work or skills can be incredibly valuable when looking for a new job. If you use LinkedIn to build a network of contacts, getting recommendations for your previous and/or current employer is an important part of completing your LinkedIn profile. 

Listing references can help you be found by potential employers and recruiters, as they can search based on the number of recommendations in your profile. References also help to highlight your strengths, which means you’re more likely to be approached for opportunities that are highly relevant and interesting.

Asking for recommendations can be a bit awkward. So how best to approach this? International recruitment firm Robert Walters lists a few elements.


Ensure you are asking for a recommendation once you have completed a piece of work, rather than during the project. If you are still working for the person you would like to ask, explain why you would like the recommendation.  Possible reasons could be so that you can complete your LinkedIn profile, or to further highlight the services your company offers to help generate leads. 


Make sure you ask the right people for recommendations. You are more likely to ask colleagues with whom you get on well. However, the most powerful recommendations come from superiors to whom you have reported. They can tell how you have contributed positively to projects and company goals.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a built-in option that allows you to request recommendations for each individual job. The advantage of this functionality is that the people you are requesting a reference from don't have to answer right away. This way, you give them a chance to first think about whether they want to recommend your work. Moreover, they can fill in their recommendation quickly and easily.

Be suggestive

Help the people you are asking to recommend you by suggesting what they could say. Be sure to to outline the most important skills for your career. This will help them to frame their response and will ensure their recommendation of you does not take up too much of their time.

Give back

If you can recommend others, then you should do so. The more recommendations you give, the more likely you are to get one yourself. However, be aware that reciprocal recommendations are considered to be less powerful by the LinkedIn community. It’s therefore a good idea to make sure not all of your endorsements are “you recommend me and I’ll recommend you”.


More information

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