LinkedIn and Endorsements

One of the features I like about LinkedIn are the Groups and the interesting discussions they often generate. Not too long ago there was a discussion started over LinkedIn’s new use of endorsements on profiles. So for example, if I click on one of my contacts profile I will be presented with something like this:


If I’m inclined to do so, I can select one of the skills that my contact has claimed to possess and endorse him for it. Once several contacts have done the same you end up with a section on your LinkedIn that looks a bit like this.


When LinkedIn first came out, I seemed to remember everyone praising it for it’s more “gated access approach” to adding connections and building a network. If you wanted to connect with someone then you would be presented with a list of options as to how you know them:


I think a lot of people felt this helped to build trust and a sense of authenticity, not to mention more professionalism compared to other social networks like Facebook. It was harder to just add someone randomly like you tend to do on Facebook. LinkedIn makes it so you have to kind of think about who you’re connection to.

In addition, LinkedIn allows you to give and receive recommendations from others. Getting a recommendations from someone could be a great benefit to someone, and the more you have, the more attractive you’ll look to a potential employer. I guess the new endorsement feature was provide another way to provide recommendations but rather than having to put thought into writing a paragraph or two about the individual, all you have to do is select a button that says “endorse”. There’s not really a lot of thought that goes into it and I’ve even caught myself endorsing someone simply because I noticed they had endorsed me. So, I can see how people might criticize LinkedIn for setting aside some of it’s original philosophy to create clear, authentic connections between people for something a little more superficial.

If I were trying to convince a library director or CEO who is new to social media to create at least one profile online, I would probably recommend that they start with LinkedIn simply because it has that more professional edge and would therefor seem a little “safer” then if I tried to convince them to begin with Facebook. I think, however, people are right to criticize the endorsement feature in LinkedIn and I can imagine many newcomers to social media may agree and be a bit turned off by it.


6 thoughts on “LinkedIn and Endorsements

  1. Deborah Cooper

    I agree with you about the endorsement feature, which I’ve come to despise. Out of the blue I get an email saying that connection X has endorsed my skills, A and B. Well, the skills they’ve endorsed are not the ones I want to be the most dominant on my profile. There are about 10 other skills I have listed. And why have they endorsed one particular skill over the other? It doesn’t make sense and it gives my profile a slant that I don’t want it to have. I feel like this takes some of the control away from the user. Maybe I need too delete all of the skills I have listed and start over in that section?! Regardless, it is really a meaningless feature.

    1. A. Zuniga

      I agree with you, Deborah! The author of this article I read last month agrees:
      It seems like it is a kind of “if I scratch your back, you scratch mine” kind of feature, where endorsements have only come to represent exchanged favors between LinkedIn connections. A few of my endorsements have come from previous co-workers…who have never witnessed my expertise in this area! It definitely lends a lack of authenticity to someone’s skills. Is there a way to turn this feature off?

    2. Carleen Post author

      You know, I didn’t even consider that Deborah. I see that happening on mine too. I would really rather that I have more endorsements on “library instruction” and “information literacy” because that’s what I really want to focus on as a career. Good point!

  2. Nomi

    I have mixed feelings about the endorsements. On one hand, I recently got endorsed by someone who I don’t think that I’ve ever had any interaction with and who I therefore doubt as an entirely reliable endorsement. On the other hand, 1. sometimes you don’t have a paragraph to write about someone, you just want to confirm that you think that they do xyz well and 2. given that he endorsed Community Outreach, I might very well have made a positive impression on him based on programming with which I have been involved.
    Deborah, I agree that it can slant the image that your profile gives, however, when I look at someone’s profile, when I see that someone has been strongly endorsed for xyz, I then go searching through the rest of the profile to see where they are doing that. This not only gives me the opportunity to check them out in greater depth, but it also allows me to see what they might want to be highlighting more. Knowing that what you are doing is making a positive impact in terms of people remembering that you are doing good work is a good advertisement. Particularly if there are multiple skills endorsed repeatedly. It can show off a level of breadth and flexibility via short phrases rather than needing to search through the longer descriptions to find that information.

  3. Barnaby Hughes

    The endorsement feature definitely seems lowest common denominator, like clicking the like button rather than writing a comment. And I agree, Lauren, about the possibility of slant. Perhaps it is related to LinkedIn’s prompting, which seems to be rather random? Thus, if LinkedIn didn’t prompt you to endorse a selection of the skills from someone’s profile, but rather all or none of those skills, people would be forced to make more measured choices about which skills to endorse.

    Strangely enough, I recently received a glowing recommendation from someone I hardly know when that person could have simply endorsed a few of my skills.

    Related to endorsements, how many skills do you think one should list? Five? Ten? How do you find the right balance between general and specific skills?


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