MAD Perspectives Blog

 Recommendations vs. Endorsements, The Winner Is...

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 29, 2012

LinkedIn introduced a new feature earlier this month. Like any social network, LinkedIn is constantly tinkering with its features and functionality to find the right balance of benefit and usability for its user base. They've revamped the home page layout, added LinkedIn Today to curate news relevant to you, expanding Company Page functionality and enabled integration with other social sites.  Their most recent enhancements seem to focus on influence.  The first influence enhancement, endorsements, is the subject of today's discussion. The other, the ability to follow influencers, will be discussed in a future blog.

LinkedIn has long enabled users to request recommendations from their connections.  These recommendations usually speak to the value knowledge, interpersonal skills, work style and value provided by the individual being praised.  And, yes - recommendations are usually positive in nature, reinforcing the overall profile.  For recruiters, it adds and extra layer of insight about a candidate, if the recruiter actually reads the full profile.  I usually advise and assist clients in developing robust profiles, including recommendations. The best profile I've seen is for a sales representative who had recommendations from customers, colleagues, admin support staff, partners and competitors.

A key element of a complete profile includes a listing of skills.  These can be related to roles, capabilities, industry knowledge and more. With the addition of endorsements, connections can now validate specific skills simply by pressing an online button. There is not context to the endorsement other than the fact that one or more connections may feel you have that skill. 

Here's how it works and how I believe endorsements are inaccurate.

1. You login to your profile

2. LinkedIn presents 4 connections with one randomly selected skill for your to endorse

3. You believe you are doing your colleague a favor and click the endorse button

4. HOWEVER, is the skill referenced really the skill you want to endorse?

If you want to review ALL the skills referenced by your connection, you must view their profile.  Scroll down to their skills and review them.  The skill presented by LinkedIn may not be relevant to how you know that person. To provide relevance and value to your connection, endorse the skill(s) that you truly believe them to have. The skills section of a profile was added sometime last year.  Up until then, their had been a specialities section included as part of the profile summary.  Skills is intentionally separate and in my opinion, used to help search engine optimization for recruiters. With the addition of endorsements, skills start to carry greater weight, but do we (or recruiters) understand the context of the skill.

Imagine a skill like business development. Does the person really have outstanding biz dev skills or was that simply the skill presented by LinkedIn.  Or, a skill like telecommunications, which should actually be a specialty. What does that skill, or its endorsement, say about an individual?  Do they understand the industry or specific technologies? For me the difference between recommendations and endorsements comes down to the following:

Recommendations are about the person. They are thoughtful, intentional and provide context.

Endorsements are about the technology. They are reactive, casual and simply reinforcing keywords.

How do you want to influence the way others perceive you? I'm happy to see colleagues endorse me, but I'm even happier to have them recommend my capabilities specific to how we have engaged professionally. Don't give up seeking recommendations in favor of endorsements. Your influence is worth more than a few clicks.

What's your perspective?