So, You Need a Recommendation? Here’s What to Know

Career Blog

Published: March 27, 2022 by Jillian Collins

A recommendation, in the professional world, is a glowing and strong case made by someone on your behalf, when career goals are within reach. There are so many situations that require a recommendation. You need to know the types of recommendations you can get, and help you understand when and how they can benefit you.

References Versus Recommendations

There’s a difference between a reference and a recommendation. In the first part of this series, Do You Need a Reference or a Recommendation? Here’s How to Tell, you can get an overview of purpose, practice, and protocol for references and recommendations.

The post, So, You Need a Reference? Here’s What to Know, provides insight on what a reference is for your professional trajectory. Now, the spotlight is on professional recommendations!


The purpose of a recommendation is a higher level of a reference. With a recommendation, the emphasis is on praise and accolades. The individual who recommends you testifies to how you go above and beyond in areas in, and adjacent to, your skill set. Recommendations can come in three forms when you’re a job (or internship) seeker.

LinkedIn Recommendation

A LinkedIn recommendation is usually a brief paragraph from someone (again, ideally an individual who’s supervised you or was higher in an organization than you) about how terrific you are. In effect, they’re recommending you to potential employers who will see that statement on your LinkedIn profile page, and take it as “social proof,” the concept that if someone they respect thinks highly of this individual (you), then they’ll trust that recommendation. This loops back to why you absolutely need a LinkedIn account – only someone who has a LinkedIn account and is “connected” to you can write a recommendation for you – another good reason to start building out your LinkedIn connections.

Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is somewhat similar to a LinkedIn recommendation, only in more depth and more formal (usually on the recommender’s official letterhead). Although letters of recommendation are not as frequently requested by hiring managers as they once were, having them available to share if asked in an interview is a smart idea – it simply moves hiring managers one step closer to “yep, this is the person we want” without having to wait for more information.


This type of recommendation is when someone actively advocates for you to be at least interviewed, if not hired. This is why the “it’s who you know, not what you know” truism is so powerful – again using the social proof concept, more and more organizations are asking their employees to recommend potential new hires on the assumption that they know these possible colleagues would be a good addition to the library or organization. (This trend has become so popular that many employers now have official “employee referral” incentive programs.)

This type of recommendation – a personal recommendation –  would involve someone who knows you going directly to the hiring manager to suggest that you’d be a great match for a specific open position or carrying your résumé into their office and putting it on the top.

Coming up…

What you need to know, is how to ask someone to be a reference or provide a recommendation. Because you’re asking someone to do a favor for you, there’s a definite etiquette involved in terms of what and how you ask, and equally important, how you follow up. We’ll cover those steps in the process in my next post!

Career Opportunities

  • Library Preparator (Margaret Herrick Library). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Full-Time. Beverly Hills, CA. Apply here
  • Custom Researcher Business Information, (Library & Information Sciences). Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Full-Time. Boston, MA. City, State. Apply on Vertex careers

Mark Your Calendar!

SLASC Presentation: Where the Magic Happens. Hint: It’s Outside Your Comfort Zone hosted SLASC

  • Date: Monday, April 4, 2022
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event

ASIS&T The Future is Now with Dr. Chow  hosted by iSchool Director Dr. Chow

  • Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2022
  • Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) 
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event


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