LinkedIn Recommendations Versus Reference Letters: Are You Old School?

By Martin Buckland - Executive Career Management Professional

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Photo credit:  © lculig

I admit I’m dating myself, however when I first started writing resumes in 1993 it was common practice to have a portfolio of reference letters at the ready to take with you to a job interview. In 2015, the traditional reference letter (while still of some value) has been replaced with online recommendations shared with the world on your LinkedIn profile.

Adding LinkedIn recommendations adds strength to your profile and your professional credibility. Anyone viewing your profile, no matter if you are connected or not, will instantly see the glowing praise others have provided relaying why they enjoyed working with you.

People in hiring positions are shifting to social profiles and referrals as they generate a higher quality of applicants. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, the top 2 sources for talent are social networks (73% of respondents) and referrals (63%). The power of LinkedIn is the ability to penetrate both recruitment channels at the same time.

Employers can find and review your LinkedIn profile even if you're not connected or on an active job search. Recommendations can jump your candidacy to the top of the pile, not only by others glowing about your value but also when the recruiter or HR individual knows the person who provided the recommendation (either personally or from their industry reputation).

The goal is to tap your network of connections to obtain 5 to 10 recommendations from clients and peers throughout your career journey. Be strategic when asking for a recommendation and be prepared to reciprocate. Before accepting and posting a recommendation to your profile, ensure it portrays a clear message of your expertise or contributions to the business and contains no spelling or grammar mistakes. If it needs enhancing, diplomatically ask the individual to make the required changes. A recommendation is about boosting your brand; not causing brand damage by overlooking the small details.

As resume writing and recruitment strategies evolve, you must adapt your strategies to remain current. The old school of thought focused on taking hard copy letters with you to an interview lacks the impact of an online recommendation. Ignite your 2015 job search with recommendations. Need more information on updating your job search strategies? Download my free eBook Is Your Job Search Generating Analogue Results in a Digital World?


Martin Buckland, President of Elite Resumes, is a leading resume writer, career coach and job search strategist with a global clientele. Martin currently holds the following certifications: Certified Professional Branding Strategist, Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Job and Career Transition Coach, Certified Job Search Trainer and Co-Pilot Executive Coach. Visit my website at

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