Does it really matter if you have recommendations on LinkedIn? The answer is “Yes” for several reasons.
First of all, your profile looks stronger if you have recommendations for each of your jobs over the past 15 years. If you do not, it looks like you did a poor job and could not find anyone to give you a good recommendation. Or it looks like you simply do not take your LinkedIn profile seriously which makes everything you have look insignificant. Additionally, your profile does not look complete, so it lacks value (as is the case with most partial records).
Recruiters say that any work you did more than 15 years ago is not very important to document in detail. You should mention it simply to show that you have been continuously employed since graduation from school. Having recommendations for jobs you held over 15 years ago does not hurt but is not as important as attaining good recommendations for your more current work.
Recommendations increase your chances of being found by recruiters doing “keyword searches” on LinkedIn. Refer back to my previous blog on “getting found.” The key words in your job title will count more if the job has a recommendation. One is all it takes. More than one does not help get you found but they are useful in establishing your reputation once you are found.
Do recruiters pay attention to your recommendations? A little bit but not a whole lot. They look at LinkedIn recommendations with a little bit of distrust since you have a chance to approve the wording before a recommendation is posted. Still, not having any will hurt you.
Start with your most recent job and get a recommendation there then move back chronologically to get recommendations for earlier jobs. One or two are fine. I have heard recruiters say that you should keep the recommendations to no more than 10 total, though some like to see more. I think that a long list of recommendations (more than three for any job) looks like the person just beat the bushes looking for as many recommendations as they could get. It looks phony.
You should help the person giving you a recommendation with some suggested topics and wording. It will speed them up if they do not have to start from scratch.
You do not have to limit yourself to just your former bosses. Get recommendations from a boss, a co-worker, a subordinate, or a vendor. Mixing it up a bit is good. My goal is to get three recommendations for my last couple of jobs. For my older jobs, I am shooting for one recommendation in the field I am currently looking for work in. I am not looking for any recommendations for my work as a software engineer (15 years ago). I do not plan on moving back into that field.
Spread out your recommendations. Nothing looks more contrived than having 10 recommendations which were all posted within a 5 day period. It looks like you beat the bushed for a week and forced a bunch of recommendations. If you spread them out over a year, it looks more like the recommendations were spontaneous and legitimate.
Do not swap recommendations if you can help it. Once again, it looks fake if I do a recommendation for someone who just did one for me. If you have to swap recommendations, try to put at least 6 months between the recommendation you get and give for a person.
And finally, if you were out of work for a period of time but did volunteer work, get a recommendation for that. It looks like you spent your time doing something useful.