LinkedIn Endorsements: Why They May be Hurting You

Note: If you have given me a LinkedIn Endorsement, I sincerely appreciate your intention. This article is in no way an indictment of your actions.

linkedin-endorsementsLinkedIn is jealous of Facebook. There, I said it. If they weren’t, they would never have created LinkedIn Endorsements. Click LIKE if you agree.

Since its introduction last fall, LinkedIn Endorsements has been nothing if not controversial. This feature makes it convenient for any of your connections to recommend you for skills and expertise not only that you have selected in your profile, but that are suggested by LinkedIn – even if the person who endorsed you has never worked with you or knows how strongly your skill/expertise is – or if you possess it at all. And all they need to do is click a button.

Is this good or bad? The debate rages on, and most likely will continue. Two things to be concerned about:

1) Being endorsed for skills/expertise you don’t have and thus cannot perform for anyone. What happens when you’re contacted by someone simply because they believe you can serve them in this capacity – awkward!

2) The ease with which someone can give an endorsement. LinkedIn Endorsements are akin to Facebook Likes, people often give them because they only require a click to do, and some days that’s all time will allow. However, as with Likes, Endorsements are not a testament of the professionalism or quality of you or your skills.

It’s true that the feeling behind an Endorsement is genuine, people make them with the best of intentions and are sincerely trying to be helpful. After all, an Endorsement is a compliment, which can only enhance your reputation, right? Yes, in the sense that it’s impressive to see all those little head shots lined up on your profile like merit badges on your scout uniform. Realistically, no, because Endorsements are not LinkedIn Recommendations – a feature that is far more powerful.

Endorsements are more like recognition than testimonial – which would you rather have: 100 skill endorsements or 10 thoughtfully worded and detailed Recommendations from people you actually served?

Recommendations carry more weight; require more thought, are earnest and often reflect the emotions of the person writing it. When someone is considering hiring you or using your services, Endorsements are intended as statements of your skills/expertise (or not; perhaps, just a shout out from someone who has met you!), whereas Recommendations are testaments as to why you should be hired or utilized.

Bottom line: Minimize Endorsements, and build your list of Recommendations:

1) Go through your list of Endorsements, and delete the ones from people you haven’t served or don’t apply to you. Here’s how.

2) Write a list of your best customers or best bosses, then contact them and ask for a Recommendation. If they feel the same way about you, they won’t mind spending the 15 minutes (at most) to write one for you. If they ask you to write a Recommendation and post it from them, don’t. If you do this once for a client, you will most likely do it again. Soon several of your Recommendations will start to sound the same, and sophisticated readers will know you wrote them – and there goes your credibility.

3) Endorsements should be placed just above Recommendations on your profile – strangely, LinkedIn will not allow them to be placed below – but at least having both together will bring attention to your Recommendations.

4) Take the best Recommendations and move them to the most recent experience in your profile. Instructions here.

Linkedin Endorsements may have seemed like a good idea at first, but their ease of provision have made them so ubiquitous as to become insignificant, and even worse, detrimental.

No one knows whether LinkedIn will continue with the Endorsements feature or eliminate it, obviously there are opinions on both sides. Typically, controversey only serves to build longevity. For your LinkedIn profile, it’s better to minimize Endorsements – or maybe euthanize them altogether.


Posted on April 22, 2013, in Business, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I agree that the endorsements are much like the Facebook “like”. Given that, I don’t really give mine or anyone else’s much weight or attention. Similar to the “like” button, I glance at them but give much more credence to the recommendations and work examples. I wouldn’t call anyone to freelance for me because there were 15 faces next to the word Video. I don’t go out of my way to endorse people either but if prompted by the site, I may agree that he or she has some skills in that area. I say keep the endorsents – they add graphic color if little else.

  2. Hi Kelley, yes totally agree. I keep my Endorsements (the valid ones) mostly because people have come to expect to see them. I’m hoping that, in time, that will change.

  3. Thanks John. The link to remove endorsements is helpful and I have just shared it with my company followers on LinkedIn as they seem to be a contentious and misunderstood element of LinkedIn’s features.

  4. I have to wonder why you would tell the reader to “Go through your list of Endorsements, and delete the ones from people you haven’t served…” This could be a very timely task and to what value? I prefer to leave the Endorsements there and only delete any skills that do not belong on my profile.

    I strategically put the 50 skills on my profile that are relevant to “who I am and what I do.” I do not let my network add these skills via new endorsements.

    Regarding Endorsements of my Skills, I am the only one who knows if someone can or can not appropriately endorse me for those skills.

    The primary value I place on endorsements is the opportunity to engage with my network. When someone endorses me, regardless of their first hand knowledge that I have the skill, I reach out to them and say hello. I thank them for the endorsement and ask how I can help them. I have gotten business this way.

    For the most part, even as a recruiter, I do not hold any value on individuals Endorsements. I prefer to see recommendations and a compelling relevant story in the Summary and Experience Sections.

    • Ted, thanks so much for your thoughts on this. It seems you have a good process in place. I still believe in the value of deleting endorsements from people who have not experienced my services, as even legitimate services have not been rendered to said persons and thus their support is invalid. Reaching out to people who have endorsed you is definitely a good method of engagement, like you I have also won business this way. And agreed, as I say in the article, recommendations far exceed the weight of endorsements.

  1. Pingback: Dealing with LinkedIn Endorsements | Humanus

  2. Pingback: 2 ways to ensure you receive a timely, quality LinkedIn recommendation | Things Career Related

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