Why I don’t like LinkedIn Endorsements

October 30, 2013

About a year ago LinkedIn launched a new feature: Endorsements. Anyone in your 1st degree circle can click a single button to endorse your stated skills (or add a few of their own liking). As they rack up, you end up with a bar chart of sorts that is supposed to indicate your strongest talents. Users are prompted to leave Endorsements pretty much every time they log in – and also every time someone endorses them. Depending on your settings, you will receive a congratulatory email or notification for every one received.

Somebody please make this feature go away.

It is the business world equivalent of “winking” in online dating. It’s too easy and reeks of laziness rather than true backing of a person-in-the-know. Who actually takes them seriously? Certainly not recruiters, who see the inherent flaws in the system. After a year of being pummeled with them – do you even take them seriously? I don’t. One of my contacts has endorsed me nearly every week for a year. It’s nice that she cares so much – or so little – to click a button, but really, I’d rather she stop. It’s just creating more useless noise in my already difficult to manage social media world.

Are Endorsements a good thing for LinkedIn’s brand? I can see the logic behind why they launched it. Looking for something that was more interactive beyond the newsfeed (which, it seems, still takes a lower priority than ones Facebook or Twitter feeds), they found a way to add on to the foundational idea that this site is about networking and your contacts can help further your career. But while the ability to write someone a prose recommendation has added an interesting, personalized layer to the site, the reality of the “good idea” of endorsements doesn’t measure up.

Since anyone who is 1st degree connected to you can endorse you, it creates an un-policed, untrustworthy environment. LinkedIn intends you to only connect with people you know well. But that’s just not reality. I find that post-real-life-networking session, I attempt to link with everyone I met to stay in touch. It’s a lot easier than hanging on to a stack of business cards, and I now consider them part of my “network” even if they are a new/loose connection. But does this make them qualified to say whether I’m skilled at Brand Strategy or P&L Management?

The only kinds of Endorsements I find credible are ones from neutral/3rd parties. Endorsements currently lack reliability, which reflects back on LinkedIn’s brand. They seem trite and are definitely annoying – not exactly the image that LinkedIn is hoping to project. Although LinkedIn is primarily user-driven content and there are opportunities for users to fib on their profiles, there is nothing so obviously untrustworthy than an Endorsement that takes such little effort, thought, and commitment to leave.

When I look at other people’s profiles, the only time I pay attention to the Endorsements is when someone has added their own flair to it that lets me in on their personality. Like my contact who, among terms like “risk management” and “ethics,” recently added “guinea pigs” and “dinosaurs.” Now those are skills I can endorse.

Do you like and use Endorsements? What are your favorite or least favorite features of LinkedIn?

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