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My lecturer, who was also my undergraduate thesis supervisor, has requested me to write a LinkedIn recommendation for him. I am in a dilemma of accepting or rejecting this request since I don't think I am qualified to write such a letter. Could I get any suggestions/thoughts on whether it would be appropriate and ethical to write such a letter for my supervisor?

Thank you.

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    I'm not sure how you feel unqualified; if the lecturer has asked you - it will be because they specifically want a recommendation from a previous student (and not a fellow lecturer/researcher). But you're more likely to get good responses on academia.SE - as academic culture can be vastly different to workplace culture. – Bilkokuya Nov 27 '18 at 13:07
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    @Bilkokuya that being said, I think we can still answer it the general sense of, Writing a recommendation for a supervisor. – SaggingRufus Nov 27 '18 at 13:12
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    Why the downvote? This is a perfectly legitimate question. – rath Nov 27 '18 at 13:39
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A LinkedIn recommendation is not a recommendation letter. You just leave a one or two paragraph comment on the person's LinkedIn page. He simply wants to show that he is working with students by having their recommendations on his profile. Why would you be unqualified for that?

  • Agreed. I was just finding it a little awkward to write a recommendation for my lecturer. – Jspake Nov 27 '18 at 14:48
  • @jspake In today's climate of 360° Feedback it is quite common to provide your opinions on performance of your superiors. – PM 77-1 Nov 27 '18 at 17:01
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On LinkedIn, it's relatively easy to derive relationships between other people.

For example: if I'm looking at a page for someone working at Company X with title Manager of Customer Service, and I see that another person from Company X with title Customer Service Representative has left them a recommendation, it's easy to take the recommendation in the supervisor/employee context.

Further, it's very common in LinkedIn recommendations to explicitly mention relationships. For instance, you might see,

While I was a Customer Service Rep on Bill's team at Company X, I enjoyed working for him because...

In the traditional context, a formal "recommendation" is usually given from a position of authority. However, LinkedIn is a much less formal environment, and it's very common (and useful) for recommendations to come from a wide variety of perspectives - supervisors, subordinates, clients, vendors, and so on. It's also common to request and collect a large number of recommendations, versus formal recommendations, where you'd typically only gather a few.

This provides value by presenting the individual from a variety of perspectives, which speaks more to the big picture than a formal recommendation can. In other words, You're not any more or less qualified to do this than anyone else in this person's network.

All that said, if you do write the recommendation, it's best to:

  • Be Brief. LinkedIn recommendations are typically a few sentences, maybe two paragraphs.
  • Be specific. Call out the specific behaviors or traits about this person that stood out to you and made an impact on your relationship.
  • Be honest. Don't consider your recommendation only in the context of being positive or negative, just be honest about the person.

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