LinkedIn endorsements are meaningless
In September 2012, LinkedIn added a feature called “endorsements.” The way most people found out about this is through notifications that their connections had endorsed them for various skills and expertise. Similarly, when you visit LinkedIn, you may be asked to confirm that one or more of your connections is proficient in a particular area.
On the surface this seems like a good idea. Use the power of the network to increase the quality of the data on the site. The feature could be useful and I certainly feel that I’ve received some endorsements that make sense to me and I appreciate that people took the time to click their affirmation of my abilities. However, I think the feature is quite flawed and here’s why:
- The system asks for endorsements of skills and expertise that people have never claimed in their profile. My LinkedIn connections have been asked to endorse me for skills for which I have fleeting knowledge of and were never referenced in my profile or posted in any status update. Some of my connections did actually endorse me for these skills which brings me to the next point.
- Unlike recommendations which actually take some time to write, endorsements are easily issued with a single click. It’s so easy that you can also make a mistake and it’s not clear how you retract an endorsement. I believe that most of the time people will answer “yes” when asked to confirm that someone has a particular skill. This is probably even more likely when you’re asked to confirm that multiple people all have a particular skill. Who will take the extra time to say that three of the four people have the skill but one does not?
- Let’s be honest and admit many of us on LinkedIn have connections we barely or don’t even know at all or we don’t know well enough to vouch for these skills. I work in the software and music domains and I’ve got people in one domain endorsing me for skills in another domain and I don’t see how they could possibly do this.
Consequently, many endorsements are meaningless and this degrades the veracity of even valid endorsements. It’ seems like the endorsements feature is nothing more than a way to generate more hits on the LinkedIn site and the constant badgering of people to endorse others and the notifications that you’ve been endorsed are annoying and spam-like. It will be interesting to see whether recruiters and potential employers begin to value endorsements. For example if 140 people have endorsed Bob for “Agile Methodologies” and only 60 people have endorsed Fred for the same, does that make Bob the preferred candidate for a job requiring that skill? I sure hope not…
Photo taken by jurvetson. Used under license.