The Truth About LinkedIn Endorsements

linkedin-endorsementsWhat does a LinkedIn endorsement really say about you? Nothing. Due to the lack of credibility, endorsements have garnered a pejorative connotation. With fairness to LinkedIn, it was a valiant effort to boost the little interaction that occurs between connections, but it leaves something to be desired, especially from a recruiting standpoint.

The problem with endorsements is that they are based on a 1st connection’s (typically someone you know) impulse to extend a compliment that often lacks merit. Someone who feels that your skills and expertise in one particular area such as say “Strategic Planning” is so great should be letting people know with a recommendation. To me, all an endorsement says is that you have a friend nice enough to recognize your functional knowledge of a particular area. If you truly feel that strongly about someone take the time to write them a recommendation. It is a lot more genuine than clicking the endorsement button.

When I hear endorsements, I think Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, and Beyonce. Sure, I may be more inclined to pick up the latest Air Jordans, retreat to a Trump penthouse, or grab a Pepsi, but I certainly do not have the desire to check out Johnny Doe because his cousin Jane said he is a wiz at Microsoft Word. An endorsement may not be the appropriate word for the actual context of the tool, because what is an endorsement without credibility?

I am not against boosting engagement on LinkedIn, and I feel that endorsements have certainly helped. However, if LinkedIn users want to be serious about their profiles, I don’t see any need. We have to remember that LinkedIn is a professional network, and making connections is more about interaction.

What do you think of endorsements on LinkedIn? Do you feel that they have become meaningless? What alternatives are there? Share your thoughts below.

6 responses to “The Truth About LinkedIn Endorsements”

  1. Adam Cohen says:

    Can’t argue with your point of view Matt. An endorsement alone is a “light” interaction and doesn’t carry the weight of a recommendation. What’s interesting to me though is the aggregate data. If I see a candidate has a lot of endorsements on a particular category – and especially if I see people I know have made the same endorsement – it’s one slight edge vs. a candidate with none. It could make the difference in an initial screening, for instance. Would I bank an interview on it? No. Would I recommend people know better and seek out people for other reasons on their profile? Of course. It’s almost like spotting a typo on someone’s profile.

  2. Susan Wilson says:

    I agree wholeheartedly Matt. Last week I was endorsed by two ex-colleagues for skills they would have had no occasion to observe. Part of the problem is the way LinkedIn is prompting people to endorse others by recommending an endorsement against the connection in one easy click. People feel inclined to make some endorsements and take the easy way out rather than giving thought to the actual skills of their connection. That’s why I prefer to read recommendations. Whilst still fallible, I think about the credibility of the recommender and the potential relationship. I did see a husband and wife recommend each other recently though. They have different surnames and have never worked together (in a professional capacity) but anyone that does not know them well wouldn’t know this. Answer, like CVs you can’t simply take LinkedIn at face value. Check the information and then check it again!

  3. Your statements about the Linkedin endorsements are fair. It does makes better sense to write a recommendation, along with the endorsement button click. I believe it carries more weight, and gives a recruiter better insight into the individual as a person, a viable candidate, and not just a profile.

    Maybe eliminating the endorsement button, and just asking for recommendations would work. A true picture of the individual’s skills is given in a recommendation.

  4. I agree with your assessment of endorsements: over-done and of little value.

    As a LinkedIn coach I teach my clients to make lemons into lemonade: ask endorsers who could be useful in writing a recommendation; it will help you out in a more meaningful active way.

    And cull through and delete the endorsements from people who really don’t know you for that skill.

    Finally, thank your latest endorsers once in a while as it’s just the right thing to do; but remind them to only endorse others whose skills they actually know. Makes them think…

  5. Well said, Matt. In fact, i have worked very hard to build up achievements on behalf of clients (as a freelancer) and employers (in my former lives), and in every case, if that client or employer really valued my contribution, they were willing and enthusiastic enough to say so in a recommendation. “Set it and forget it” is not what an endorsement should be… but the widget has made it so.

    I encourage every single person to READ the recommendations on a prospect or connections’ profile. And then READ the recommendations they have given, as well. A high quality person does not only stand in the spotlight, they are willing to praise the team, their co-workers, the folks up and down the ladder from them. A truism: it doesnt matter who gets credit, it matters if you move the organization forward. That attitude comes out in the recommendations. Be warned if all you do is gloss over the endorsements.

  6. I agree with all the points made here but I think we might be missing the point!
    The real point in gaining endorsements is the impact they have on a search result. I believe they have a significant effect on the search algorithm. This is LinkedIn’s way of improving search results based on social proof rather than keyword stuffing of profiles.
    For this reason individuals wishing to found on LinkedIn should ensure they have skills but not too many (I advise 10 max) because when a connection visits your profile they are always encouraged to endorse 5 skills and if you have 5-10 skills they will get endorsed more often and this will improve your search ranking more than a multitude of lightly endorsed skills.
    Nobody sensible is going to be influenced by how many times your skills have been endorsed but they may not get to see your profile in the first place if you don’t have them!

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