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David Nour
David Nour
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Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea

LinkedIn's nagging automated requests to endorse others' skills are too generic to be useful to anyone. You're better served by staying in personal touch with your network.

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
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Have you noticed that every time you log into LinkedIn now it keeps pestering you to endorse the skills and knowledge of your network? It's another classic case of LinkedIn trying to abdicate the care and nurturing of your relationships to technology -- and it doesn't work.

I've been a LinkedIn Business Pro user for several years and have written extensively about all that's positive about the site's focus to become the prevailing professional social networking platform. But when you have a hammer, you begin to treat every challenge or an opportunity as a nail.

LinkedIn launched Skills and Knowledge as a functionality that few knew about, much less paid attention to or used. After all, shouldn't you be able to ascertain my skills or knowledge from my bio, background, experiences, education and recommendations?

[ Have you adapted to LinkedIn's changes? Read 5 Ways To Improve Your New LinkedIn Profile .]

By asking you to endorse the skills and knowledge of your network, it is trying to bring this new functionality front and center. Here are three fundamental problems with that:

1. Contextual Irrelevance.

Let's say I worked with Steve on a social media strategy-consulting project and am aware of his specific skills or knowledge around an influencer campaign. But what LinkedIn keeps prompting me to endorse is his graphic design skills, which I wasn't privy to in our work together and not really relevant to the context of our relationship. Does that mean that I don't have a relationship with Steve or can't endorse a skill or knowledge of his? No. It simply means that LinkedIn is taking our relationship out of context. Can I keep scrolling for his other skills? Sure, but who has the time or patience?

2. Degrees Of Competency.

Let's further say that Steve did a decent job on the above consulting engagement, but there were some areas where I thought he should have been more knowledgeable or competent. There is no way to rate the degrees of his competency or recommend areas for Steve to grow professionally in this area. Any competency metric I've always seen or have found effective gives you a range, such as a 1 to 10 or 4 out of 5 stars.

3. Weighted Endorsements. Did I work with Steve only once and experience his skills or knowledge in a very limited scope, or have we worked together on multiple projects, allowing me to see him deliver results across a spectrum of challenging scenarios? Anyone who has ever endorsed someone else knows that not all endorsements are created equal. There is no way for me to comment on each endorsement or give it more credence or credibility as to the frequency of our interactions.


Are these the endorsements you really want?

I don't know about you, but here are two other problems that give me quid pro quo heartburn:

-- I feel guilty for all these people and their skills that pop up that I have no idea they were capable of (am I the only one who keeps asking "seriously?" to many of these skills or knowledge?) Does that mean I don't really know them that well or have a strong enough relationship with them to be connected on LinkedIn? Or that they've done a poor job in branding themselves for me to realize that particular knowledge or skill was a part of their repertoire?

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velotracy
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velotracy,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2013 | 1:28:28 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Although I agree that soliciting endorsements is a bad idea, I disagree with most of the commenters and with many of David's arguments. If interpreted properly, endorsements can be very useful as a quick indicator of a person's skill set as viewed by a large population.

Endorsements are not like recommendations and shouldn't be used that way. Recommendations on LinkedIn provide the contextual relevancy, degrees of competency, etc., that David and others seek. But endorsements provide a different strength, a much larger population of endorsers. The strength of endorsements is in the wisdom of crowds, which relies on large populations and frictionless participation. I wrote about endorsements and the wisdom of crowds here: http://tracyearles.blogspot.co....

Tracy
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 1:44:39 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
You don't?

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Income True
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Income True,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2013 | 5:42:45 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
All I know is David Carpin has hundreds of endorsements for all his skills. Go to the people's search on Linkedin and perform a search for of his skills listed below and he comes up somewhere on the first search page for any of these skills. Try it yourself if you want to.

99+Test Management
99+User Acceptance Testing
99+Quality Center
99+Test Strategy
99+Testing
99+System Testing
99+Test Planning
99+Program Management
99+Business Analysis
99+Solvency II

http://www.linkedin.com/inbox/...

Open endorsers are Open Networkers - only they have more skills.

Melanie Rodier
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Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 5:04:40 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I think people take endorsements too seriously. I see it more as a 'like' button on Facebook. People on social networks like to click on things other people suggest they can 'like'. In this case, a skill. True, it would be more useful if endorsements were placed in context. Then again, I see a LinkedIn endorsement as just a general validation that a person is, indeed, a sales professional, journalist, financial advisor, etc, and has certain general skills in this area. Resumes and bios are where you should really go into more detail about what these skills are. Recruiters shouldn't be relying on someone's friends or casual business contacts to tell them what skills a professional has.
RW0r1d
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RW0r1d,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2013 | 8:36:23 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Absolutely not. I don't troll through endorsement requests, do not endorse someone I do not know well, and will not endorse anyone who has added their own endless list of skills (jack of trades, master of none). I am saying that if I know someone and they have indicated it is important to them, I endorse them. But, I also "maintain" my contacts and do not keep transient contacts which may have been picked up in trade shows or similar venues (someone I will not likely maintain as a long term acquaintance). Something many who employ terminology such as "I haven't the time or patience" rarely do. As a function, I think it has merit however it may have been implemented in manner that left it too open to manipulation.
jbonne927
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jbonne927,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2013 | 6:05:15 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I disagree with you on the value of Linkedin endorsements. As CEO and VP of a few high tech companies and a people manager for over 40 years IG«÷ve hired and fired a lot of people.

When hiring I like everyone else sorts through the resumes on Linkedin or from other sources. I make a short list of candidates. Most people lie on their resumes and it helps to have other people validate someone's skills. We all know that some of these are bogus. No one hires on the basis of this endorsement anyway but it does add information to the resume that helps when making up the short list of candidates even if there are some bogus endorsements in there. Before you hire someone you check all this out anyway with telephone interviews and other sources.

In, addition, people leave off their resume certain skills that might be relevant to a current or future project. The endorsements help because sometimes hidden are skills are mentioned that might be valuable to the company and the person may make the short list because of it. I personally probe deeply into current and candidates backgrounds to find these hidden skills and knowledge that would be helpful to probe into the feasibility of a potential product, service, or project management project that I have in the back of my mind.

For example, in one of my positions, I discovered that one of my PhD employees had experience in the medical field as a graduate student.but it was only casually mentioned in his resume and no one knew about it. It was my personal view a EVP that we needed to get into some vertical markets and the healthcare field might be a candidate. Because of his experience, I put him in charge of investigating the market and technology required. Now that effort has become the basis of a new thriving healthcare spinoff company with over 200 employees and growing rapidly.

I might have found this hidden skill if I had endorsements such as those revealed in Linkedin. There are many other reasons why these endorsements are a good idea even if some are bogus.

I donG«÷t think and endorser should make an endorsement if the endorser doesnG«÷t really know if the endorsee has the skill or experience.


ClarkExecSearch
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ClarkExecSearch,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 3:11:56 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree with this blog post whole heartedly. LinkedIn endorsements are a waste of time. And I thank you for letting me know I can turn off the emails coming in from people who are endorsing me. Silly. I recruit scientists and they are endorsing me for scientific skills I don't even have.
smetzger
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smetzger,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 5:41:43 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree completely. I thought it was interesting that people were endorsing me, but now it happens so much it doesn't mean a lot...and endorsing everyone for everything on the home page- its pretty meaningless
David Nour
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David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:51:43 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
James - I appreciate your perspective, but I disagree. This is a case of crowd sourcing gone a muck. 30-40 people could be all over the map about the relevance, and the spectrum of my knowledge in that area. LinkedIn treats all of them the same and you and I both know that's never the case. If you go back and read my original article, the context of that endorsement is missing. I equate this to brainstorming where everyone has to contribute something, 90% of which ideas are garbage at best! I'm telling you from personal experience that people have endorsed me for skills where they have ZERO first hand knowledge of my ability to actually perform that skill - forget to what level of competence!
David Nour
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David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:48:43 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
NJ Mike - You have been endorsed by your mailman for taking your mail in your house everyday. Congratulations! :-)
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