How to write a LinkedIn recommendation

Social media plays a big part in my life. I work from home and rarely get to meet my clients and colleagues as most of my voiceover work is done remotely via ISDN or email, so my opportunities to network face to face are extremely limited. Social media is an important part of my marketing strategy. It keeps me connected to people. It helps my working relationships. It stops me from becoming that bit too socially autistic. I love social media but oh, my heart sinks when I’m asked to write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone I barely know. What to say??

It happened the other day. I was sent an endorsement request from a LinkedIn connection I didn’t know very well. Let’s call him Mike.

“Mike’s asked me to write him a recommendation,“ I said to Rich Sweetman (the guy who shares my studio).
“Mike who?” said Rich, opening another can of cider.
“Exactly,“ I said.

We brainstormed a few phrases I might use in the recommendation but concluded they were all very unhelpful. When we’d stopped laughing, we made some proper notes. As a person of high integrity, it’s important to me that I tell no untruths. I decided to go for a purely ‘factual’ approach.

“Some facts about Mike: he is called “Mike.” He is literate. I have never actually spoken to Mike. We’ve just exchanged emails and then he started stalking me on social media. I’m writing this out of a sense of obligation, in the hope that he might one day repay me with lots of lucrative work.”

Clearly that was no use whatsoever. I rewrote it:

“Mike is very good. I am happy to recommend him because Mike is very good.”

I deleted it. It was pathetic.

“It’s obviously much easier when you know the person who’s asked you to recommend them,“ said Sweetman, insightfully.
“Yes, but even then it can be tricky. What if they’re really rubbish at their job??“ I said. “ What if you can’t refuse to recommend them because they employ you on a regular basis? What if the sense of obligation is just too much??”
Sweetman chewed on his Rustler, thoughtfully. “You need to write a guide to writing a LinkedIn recommendation,“ he said. “Help others in the same situation. Reach out to people. It could really change lives.”

Sweetman is a very special individual.

So if you’re asked to write a LinkedIn recommendation for a virtual stranger, here are a few ideas. Choose the most appropriate suggestion from the list:

Mike is:
a) very good at admin
b) big boned
c) needy
d) a Sagittarius

When I work with him, I always think it’s a:
a) vital lesson in personal development
b) burden
c) reason to call my therapist
d) day I’ll never get back

He’s very professional and he makes me:
a) commit to a high level of service delivery
b) nauseous
c) feel inferior
d) feel obliged to say this because he wrote a recommendation for me

I’m happy to recommend him because:
a) he always pays me on time
b) he wrote me a glowing recommendation and I feel obliged to return the favour
c) my boss said I have to
d) if I don’t, my children will starve

Here are some other useful, convincing-sounding key phrases you could include:

  • Mike has an excellent work ethic
  • Mike has an eye for detail and is a great team player
  • Mike is an expert in his field
  • Mike is totally results-driven and is entirely customer focused

And probably the weakest, vaguest, most non-specific, most versatile phrase of all time:


“This award isn’t just for me…it’s for YOU!”

Blink-and-you’ll-miss-me just after midnight

“Is there something he’s not telling me?”

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Emma Clarke

Emma is an award-winning voiceover, broadcaster and writer. Want to find out more about Emma?
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