LinkedIn Skill Endorsements – My Take

Posted on October 8, 2012. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , |

ImageI Have always been a big supporter of recommendations on LinkedIn, I know some people abuse the feature by collecting insincere testimonials from anyone and everyone but on the whole they are a pretty good indication of the qualities that someone possesses. The reality is that someone is only likely to take the time to write a recommendation if they genuinely know enough about you and feel the world should know how good you are. This is why I thought it was a backward step when LinkedIn removed the number of recommendations from the top section of a profile in the recent re-design. The number is not the most important thing but it did at least bring the reader’s attention to the fact that you had recommendations on your profile.

In contrast I see the new skills endorsements feature as severely lacking any credibility!

Its seems as though our home pages have been filled with notifications of people racing to endorse each other, some may be very genuine but as it requires merely a click of a button, its impossible to tell so the logical conclusion is that it means very little.

My experience was that I logged on to find that a friend of mine had endorsed me for the skill ‘LinkedIn’ I clicked on this link and was presented with 4 other connections and an invitation to endorse a skill for each of them See below (this feature has since disappeared for me)

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I can click on each person and endorse them for that specific skill or I can just click on ‘Endorse all 4′ and because it is easy to just click all 4 I think most people will do that, without even looking at what the skills are!

I found myself looking at certain connections (not the above ones) and thinking ‘Can I really say they know about that?’ For instance a specialist financial recruiter who has ‘statutory accounting’ as a skill….would I employ them to do my accounts?!

The problem is that most people won’t even give it a thought and that makes this feature a complete waste of the digital space it occupies!

You can even add more skills to a connections profile is you wish, the below box appears at the top of a connections profile.

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Again the temptation here is to just click the yellow ‘Endorse’ box thereby endorsing all skills listed, without giving it any real consideration.

I have to say that I really don’t get it but for the purpose of balance, here is a quote from a fan of endorsements written in a recent group discussion I was involved with;

“Endorsements are ‘public’ approvals for certain skill sets, the credence comes from multiple people giving a thumbs-up. Of course they are open to abuse (just like Recommendations) but you will get a more granular evaluation of an individual’s capabilities and over time, the accuracy of these public likes ought to improve over time”.

I can see where LinkedIn are coming from with this and the above comment (not from LinkedIn) is a credible argument but it all feels very ‘Facebook’ to me. I never take the blind bit of notice if a friend ‘likes’ a brand/company/service on Facebook. Do you?

So where are LinkedIn going with this? First they introduce skills at the same time as removing the ‘specialties’ section without any explanation and then endorsements…what next?

I have no inside knowledge on this, just a gut feeling that this is all part of a bigger plan. They initially built a list of skills (originally you could just add anything yourself), then they made skills a requirement of having a 100% profile (a clear sign they had bigger plans for skills) and now endorsements. I suspect that we will see skills become a searchable feature (not currently the case) where result rankings are determined by the number of endorsements. This may well be a premium feature, only available to high level upgrades or corporate recruiter licences – I suspect that this level of attention by LinkedIn suggests some commercial intention.

Only time will tell, maybe I will have to eat my words in 6 months time.

What do you think? All views are very welcome.

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29 Responses to “LinkedIn Skill Endorsements – My Take”

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Hi Mark, interesting blog – thanks as always.Only just getting into endorsements myself and like you find it all too “easy” to spray them around and I agree that recommendations, taking more effort, feel to hold more value. LinkedIn continue to frustrate when making changes in their normal surprise way but that’s another story.

Hi Mark – good observations, and in part – this echoes my own first sentiment on the new endorsement method.
But I think we need to see where the value is.

It’s now part of a two-tiered recommendation structure. This is merely an endorsement of acknowledged expertise, not a recommendation. The value of a recommendation (done correctly) is personal, and often event/scenario specific. It sets out an example of performance, and says “given these circumstances, this is a guy who will pull it out the bag for you.”

The skills endorsement in effect deals with the difference between key-word abuse, and genuinely identification of your areas of expertise. The only real judges of our expertise, are others – and if I list 10 skills items, and get endorsements for only 5 of them – then I have to question whether the perception of my expertise is what I think it is, in areas that have been ignored.

So it absolutely adds a value, and from a recruitment perspective, potentially could be a massive indicator as to an accreditation in a niche skill area I want to evaluate.

Yes, there will be some `easy wins` – but where 1 or 2 people could be wrong, but the largest part of 10 or 15 won’t be. Genuine expertise will come in multiple expertise approval.

I think this is a good layer for LinkedIn, and applaud it. But that’s what it is – just a layer.

Thanks Steve, excellent points. I can see where you are coming from and this will be true if people are genuine in how they endorse…but for me that is a very big IF!

Ah – well I see the indicators ultimately being MORE genuine. The process is less contrived, and the potential numerics from multiple votes, suggest the contributions will average out accurately in the end.

Maybe, only time will tell. I will certainly be encouraging delegates on my workshops to ‘endorse with consideration’

Indeed many people currently that ask the questions that you have put Mark, and wondering ‘what is it good for’ (quoting line from Frankie Goes to Hollywood song) Everyone knows that the existing endorsement is a mutual ‘scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ why of limited value. Why on earth then an even more watered down skill endorsement feature is truly puzzling. Wonder how Linkedin themselves position and justify this.

Hi there I agree thankyou for sharing your concerns where is the real value and what is is the truth, unfortunately most things are watered down these days people seem to be in a hurry with just a click here and there approach. Cheers

Here’s the thing.
If 2 people say you’re a great Blogger – it could be disputed that you are absolutely genuinely a good blogger, no matter how many words they write.
If 22 people say you’re a great Blogger – then you’re a great blogger.

Endorsement by numbers and by increasing endorsement potential though simplicity, ensures more people vote, and a more accurate representation of your skills apply.
I joined in the argument, mentioning this blog here: http://cloudninerec.co.uk/linkedin-endorsements-will-you-be-1ing

Mark, excellent observation. You are not alone in thinking this. Linked In will strive to fill the measurement gap but until they implement a more robust screening tool they will only remain no more than a database of bodies. The system Jigsaw Search have developed and patented on http://www.jigsawsearch.com titled “Big Picture” is the likely way forward but even with that it would take time and hard work. The skill endorsement on linked in is low investment and hence low return in my opinion. Anyone can endorse you. Even people you wouldn’t necessarily appreciate to see their face on your résumé!! There is a way of hiding these endorsements which I was glad to find also.
Check out Big Picture. It’s also on you tube.

Agree entirely. As a headhunter I learned that the recommendations had a value. If they were all written with a two week period, then I would look sideways, but generally they were a reasonable pointer. Endorsements have little value. I have not sought them, but already I have endorsements from people who have never seen me function. Crazy.

Great blog which echoes my sentiments.
Being a bit of a cynic and an armchair techy, I wouldn’t mind betting this feature was introduced solely to create extra content that will enhance their search engine rankings. If it’s indeed true that search engines are picking up on ‘likes” and similar content from social media sites (which in turn is said to enhance rankings) then skill endorsements will probably fit this criteria and get Linkedin profiles top.

Thanks Chris, that is an interesting angle that I hadn’t considered. In my experience Google rarely finds LinkedIn other then for a name search so does this mean that a Google search for ‘mark williams’ will rank the Mark Williams with with 50 endorsements higher then another with 30 or is more about the timing of the endorsement coinciding with the timing of the Google search?

Brilliant totally agree! It’s making people lazy just to hit a few buttons, lacks individuality. People will expect you to click when you read their profile. I am all for recommendations, this is a pathetic alternative I’m afraid, a cop out.

How can I see who endorsed me for a skill which is not ranked enough? Imagine that there 20 skills on my profile and only top 10 listed including endorsers but rest of the skills have no details.
Appreciate

Good question Jack. The top ten skills are shown in order of the number of endorsements, below this the other skills listed are shown but I haven’t seen any in this section with any endorsements – does this mean that they are not endorsed or just that the endorsement is not shown? I’m really not sure.
Has anyone seen endorsed skills in the “more skills and expertise’ section?

Yes since there are numbers for them

The LinkedIn algorithms (or whatever they’re using) have read the text of my profile and come up with skills which apply to the (highly niched) professionals I recruit. Ergo, I end up getting endorsed for skills I don’t even possess.

I saw that LinkedIn permitted me to custom-write the skills. I went to great length to craft the skills in language that would make me stand out, and would truly describe the value I bring. Once those skills were in my profile, I learned that there is a 22 character limit (Does LinkedIn tell you this? Noooooo!). As a result, all you see are the first couple of words of the phrase, followed by an ellipsis.

Thanks, LinkedIn!!

Interesting comment John,
I have never heard of LinkedIn attributing skills automatically to a profile but I guess it is entirely possible.

Well, the skills default from somewhere. I just assumed it was the LinkedIn algorithms reading the text of my profile. Maybe LinkedIn merely looked at all my connections and assumed I would share their skills … never mind that they’re my connections because I recruit in their (highly niched) profession.

To be honest I can’t be bothered to look at ‘endorsements’ that come with a system generated message like “I’ve just endorsed you for skills”. Whoever they’re purportedly from, I think them unlikely to mean much. They don’t seem to show on my page and I wouldn’t want many of them to anyhow. I agree with what Mark has said about commercial interests and ranking. If this goes on I shall abandon LinkedIn as not being serious. I think a self-published blog would be more worthwhile – but then mine is a niche market.

How can I stop LinkedIn suggesting people endorse skills I do not claim to have? Where do these spurious skills come from? Why do the skills I do claim not get suggested for endorsement?

LinkedIn will only encourage people to endorse skills you have entered on your profile or other skills that others have suggested you have and you have approved. You can delete skills from your profile by clicking on the edit link in the skills section of your profile (edit mode)

Sorry, but I believe Mr. LinkedIn’s reply above does reflect actual practice. First, I have entered some very specifically worded skills on my profile. They are regularly ignored. I think this is because none of them appear in the list of skills that others see at the top of my profile when they find me. Second, I regularly receive messages that so-and-so has endorsed me for skills which I do not possess in the slightest. I don’t think the endorser is simply inventing those skills, which leads me to believe that LinkedIn’s programming reviews the text in my profile and uses that review to populate the skills section. (See also my post of 10/30/12). Third, clicking on the edit link in the skills section of my profile (while in edit mode) allows me to edit those specifically worded skills I referenced above, but it does NOTHING about those skill endorsement that continue to pop up like weeds.

All in all, I have to say that LinkedIn really screwed the pooch on this one!

I so hate this auto-pop-up of skills. It is the most annoying thing in LinkedIn. I wish they get rid of it.

I only have two skills listed now. “Please don’t endorse me for skills just because LinkedIn tells you to”, and “Unless you actually do know more about my skills that I do. Thanks”.

A bit snippy, granted, but to be honest I got thoroughly fed up with people thoughtlessly editing *my* profile by adding skills to it that I hadn’t even listed, and that clearly the people involved weren’t coming up with on their own. Even after disabling endorsements completely, LinkedIn were still peddling this crap to my contacts, one or two of whom seemed to think they were somehow doing me a favour by re-writing my CV in this way. Despite the fact we’d never actually worked together and didn’t even work in the same field.

That’s a recurring characteristic of the “endorsements” system: the people least-qualified to comment on your skills are ironically the most likely to, because they mistake that little blue “endorse” box for a Facebook “Like” button. It’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action. They think they’re doing a nice thing. In reality, they’re inadvertently cocking up your carefully-crafted CV. Hence my not listing “real” skills any more. Hopefully that will stop the madness. If not, there’s always a delete button for contacts now that the delete button for unwanted endorsements seems to have disappeared.

Apologies if this has been asked or commented on before, but what is the etiquette to stop people endorsing you? I know this sounds stupid, but I keep getting endorsed by someone who doesn’t really know me and the skills are not really relevant….! Should I just roll with it, or ask them to stop politely? Also, do you know if you are able to delete any skills that you have been endorsed for???

Hi Mark,
My advice would be to just roll with it. People are forever endorsing people who they don’t know and everyone knows it which is why skill endorsements have no real value (other than the effect they have on the search algorithm)! Its not worth potentially creating a storm over something that doesn’t really matter in my opinion.
No-one can add skills to your profile other than you, others can suggest skills (this is because LinkedIn has encouraged them to do so) but you have to accept them in order for them to show on your profile. Skills can be deleted when in edit mode on your profile.
Hope that helps.

thanks Mark – agree. Letting sleeping dogs lie!


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