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LinkedIn Endorsements: Fad, Foe or Friend?

If you are active on LinkedIn you may have started receiving endorsements from some of your connections. I have, and must say that when they started arriving in my Inbox I thought spam hackers had infiltrated the accounts of some of the people in my network and were sporadically sending out these messages. I became a bit more curious when I noticed endorsements were coming from some individuals with whom I had very little, if any, interactions. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate all I have received so far, but because I wasn’t aware that such a feature exists, I was sceptical. It wasn’t until I saw several posts on a discussion board and visited the LinkedIn blog that I realized the emails were legitimate.

LinkedIn Endorsement is a feature that allows your contacts to click a button and recognize and validate skills and expertise that you have on your profile. They can also add skills and expertise that they know you have but ones you may not have listed. In fact, in a word or phrase, a LinkedIn endorsement could help to answer the age old question, “What are you good at?” The feature also allows you to pay-it-forward by endorsing the expertise of people in your network who you know quite well or by reciprocating the favour of those who have endorsed you. Having said that, is this LinkedIn Endorsement feature a fad, a foe or a friend?

Fad. From much of what I have read, some people have characterized it as a fad – a trend that will pass. One individual curtly said, “This too shall pass”, referring to Twitter‘s #FollowFriday and Facebook‘s ‘Likes’. A comment on Inquirer.net states, “As the feature stands, it’s really just eye-candy for Linkedin, perhaps catching the attention of an employer but quickly fading away under detailed scrutiny.” One colleague commented that, “This whole endorsements thing is kinda brainless…silly and devoid of meaning.” Digital marketer, Eric Whittlake, portends that the value of LinkedIn as a business network will decrease while traffic to the site and potential advertising will increase. And, blogger Garrett Heath, said, “The Endorsement feature cheapens some of these accomplishments and turns a candidate’s profile/resume effectively into a “Like” contest.”

Foe. Although this could be more perception than reality, somewhere down the road, recruiters and hiring managers could be tempted to look at the number of endorsements one has and eliminate some otherwise talented people from the competition because they do not have many endorsements. This is not too far-fetched as there were discussions in the blogosphere and on job boards several months ago about some employers using one’s Klout score (or number of Twitter followers, for that matter), to determine how much clout (influence) one has and which applicants should be short-listed for interviews. Endorsements could also impact the LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature since it is easier to click on a skills button than to write a recommendation. And, in some circles, endorsements could be viewed as a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” strategy, which could be frowned on and diminish its effectiveness.

Friend. The upside to the act of endorsements is that it could be perceived as a 360° validation of your expertise. Not only are you saying you are ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ but people who are familiar with you and your work also agrees with you. These endorsements add value and credibility and back up your claim of having those skills and expertise. An endorsement could also be mutually beneficial as you can return the favour of the endorser and thereby capitalize on each other’s network. If done correctly, endorsements could enhance the value of the recommendations you already have.

It’s obvious that the feature has friends and foes. From my perspective, however, the jury is still out. First, the feature is only a month old (up to the time of this post); second, I am still not sure how to use it effectively. For example, when I thought I was accepting endorsements, I ended up clicking on the “Endorse All 4” button that popped up without clearly looking at who I was endorsing. There will be many more discussions about the value of endorsements, and when that happens we can all determine if a LinkedIn Endorsement is a fad, a foe or a friend. Leave your comments or your discoveries in the “Speak Your Mind” section below.

Additional reading:

The Pros and Cons of Endorsements

How LinkedIn Skills Endorsement Impact Your Job Search

Endorsement Feature Degrades LinkedIn as a Professional Network