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What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You

LinkedIn's new Endorsements feature lets people easily recommend each other, but it will be the quality--not the quantity--of kudos that count.

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"Wayne has endorsed you," read the subject line of a message from LinkedIn in my Gmail inbox. "Oh, how nice," I thought. A long-time colleague took the time to recommend me. Then I saw that Mary had endorsed me, then Fran, and so on, and so on. Now I was suspicious. "Was this some kind of phishing scheme? Did something I wrote go viral? Why all the attention, all at once?" Then I actually opened one of the messages and saw that these endorsements were a new LinkedIn thing. I also saw, when I went to the LinkedIn site, that I could return the favor and endorse my own connections. To be honest, my next thought was, "What fresh social hell is this?"

OK, maybe I got a little dramatic there, but what I was responding to was, one, another surprise update from a social network and, two, what seemed like on its surface another social obligation--in more ways than one. I also worried that LinkedIn was becoming Klout-like, with a single (albeit aggregated) metric determining worth and value. (This is a premise being tested by a University of North Carolina professor who is basing 20% of his Social Media for Reporters students' grades on the number of points their Klout scores rise over the semester.)

So, what is the new LinkedIn Endorsements feature?

In a Sept. 24 blog post, LinkedIn's David Breger explained it this way: "On LinkedIn, you have many smart, talented, and skilled professional connections. Starting today, we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise. With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they've listed on their profile or recommend one they haven't added yet. Think your connection is great at programming AND project management? Let them know!"

[ Learn about Facebook's new feature. See Facebook's Promoted Posts For Individuals: A Bad Idea. ]

To endorse a connection, you can click on recommended skills in their profile. Connections can also be endorsed from the new Skills & Expertise section at the bottom of profiles. When you have been endorsed, you receive notification in email and on LinkedIn, and these endorsements will show up in your own Skills & Expertise section.

LinkedIn has launched Endorsements in English across the United States, India, New Zealand, and Australia, and plans to add languages during the next few weeks, according to Breger's post.

What's in it for you?

LinkedIn Endorsements will provide an easy-to-read skills dashboard of sorts--a very streamlined version of your resume. This could be useful for people looking to connect with someone on a particular topic--one of the core functions of social networking for businesses--or for LinkedIn users in the market for a new job or otherwise looking to promote their expertise.

"Having a range of people in your network specify certain skills that they feel you do best provides an interesting data point for recruiters looking at your profile," said Tony Deblauwe, senior HR manager/business partner at Citrix.

LinkedIn Endorsements may also reduce some of the risk associated with bringing a new employee into the company.

"LinkedIn Endorsements might be a useful business tool for customers to review people," said Larry Stybel, president and CEO of career management and leadership development firm Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire, as well as executive in residence at the Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University. "For example, I have a search for a VP and I see two potential candidates rated highly in a skill. But one candidate is rated highly by someone I respect. I will contact that individual for a detailed reference without the candidate's knowledge. In other words, this may be a tool that can reduce risk to 'buyers.'"

So will there be a mad rush as people look to endorse and be endorsed, vying to attain as many endorsements as possible in a particular area? Is this the classic "I have more marbles than you so I win" paradigm?

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BD..4
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BD..4,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/14/2012 | 9:00:38 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
The whole concept of endorsements and # of connections really lame. Seriously, if an HR person uses these screens to find quality candidates, they are less than qualified for their job. Rather than relying on software algorithms and check boxs, how about actually talking to a prospective candidate. You'll find out more in 10 seconds than looking at all of the self-promotion (i.e. social media) pages out there.

I can't tell you how many times I have reached out to people on LinkedIn only to be told that they really don't know the person that they are connected to that well or that they haven't talked to them in years. Endorsements and Skills lists are in the same category - useless.

To the poster's comment about seeing an endorsement of someone by a person that they respected - wouldn't you see them as a connection anyway and reach out to get their opinion of the person anyway? Where is the value has been added by endorsements?

Deb and others make a valid point about gamification. I feel no obligation to give endorsements, nor do I seek them.
tv22
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tv22,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/12/2012 | 12:22:45 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
The bigger issue is that since this "feature" has come on line I've been receiving endorsements from people who I haven't spoken with in years, endorsing me for skills that they either would not have known I had or were secondary to the skills that I was known for and demonstrated when we worked together. Just today I received one for a skill that I use now, but not so much before, from a guy I haven't spoken with in at least 10 years. It is already becoming noise.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/12/2012 | 9:11:04 AM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
Thanks for the comment, Keith. It's interesting to hear from the hiring side. It also seems to me that this feature could be easily manipulated, a la Facebook likes.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
flyzipper
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flyzipper,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 11:49:15 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
Agree with your points, it can and will be used in the manner you're describing. I'd just expect people to grant endorsements only if they're genuine and heartfelt ... that's my nature, and that's the way I've been using it.

Maybe a default 'ass-kisser' skill should be added to everyone's profile so abusers could be called out by giving that attribute a +1. :)
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 10:18:21 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
I think that is where the gamification comes in!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 10:15:15 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
I think "social media arms race" is the perfect way to put it.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
EricLundquist
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EricLundquist,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 10:15:09 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
Good topic. The endorse feature quickly leads to an endorsement overload. I don't think LinkedIn is ready to step up to the plate with an "Unendorse" or "Nowaynohow" feature.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 10:14:03 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
I understand what you are saying, but I think there is the whiff of, "I'll endorse you if you endorse me." I guess the level of obligation you feel has something to do with how secure you are in your position, whether you are in the market for a new job, your age (younger people trying to establish a foothold in an industry might be more eager to endorse and to get endorsed) and, ultimately, your nature. (I, for one, am a people pleaser :)

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 10:10:47 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
I was surprised by it, too. Perhaps more upfront notice and context around the feature would have made it more useful--and at least understandable.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor,
$487483
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$487483,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 7:40:25 PM
re: What LinkedIn Endorsements Mean To You
Our anatomical systems are endorsing others viruses for which we have become immune, so I suppose a fractal of that behavior is only a reflection of an already good thing...unless it's serious!
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