Since the growth of LinkedIn, I find that I often am asked in an “inmail” to write an online endorsement for one of my connections. As an executive recruiter for 20+ years and as Co-Manager of the Civil Engineering Central Group on LinkedIn, I have many connections – many of whom I know better than others. For several of these recommendation requests, I have accepted and tried to write an honest evaluation of the person. Many, I have decided against writing. Why am I uncomfortable rejecting requests? Why did they ask me in the first place?
Before writing a recommendation you should ask yourself: Do I want my name attached to this person? Am I really able to write something that would help this person be a standout? Are they a talented architect, civil engineer, marketer or planner? Would I want them on my team? Would I want them to oversee one of my designs, plans or projects? Would I feel comfortable sending them out to a client? Would I refer someone to work for them on a daily basis? Did I really learn anything from working with them? Do I respect them enough that I would want them to evaluate my abilities? And, again: Do I want my name attached to this person!
Who should you select to write on your behalf? One should choose their recommendation writer carefully. This person should be knowledgeable of you and be able to describe several strengths you possess. They should be able to discuss specific situations in which they have worked with you and seen your performance. Notable anecdotes they can provide are of interest. It is helpful for you to choose people who know you in a variety of different roles. Recommendations from clients, colleagues, supervisors and subordinates are preferred. Friends’ letters are of little interest. Community and religious leaders are OK but many employers tend to not weigh their feedback as strongly as those from your “business” life.
Should you write a recommendation for everyone who asks you? Of course not. If you have an uncomfortable “twinge” when you read the request to write the recommendation, don’t feel you know the person well enough to comment or don’t have the time to write something of use to a reader, then DON’T write! Be polite and professional and tell the requester that while you appreciate their asking, you will be unable to write an assessment that would be valuable.
Social networking makes it as easy as a “click” to send out requests for recommendations to each and every person with whom you are connected. Think before you ask someone to write a recommendation for you and think before you write one!