LinkedIn Endorsements - What is the deal?
January 7, 2013 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Recently I have noticed some unsolicited endorsements appear in my LinkedIn. I do not think they are detailed written out recommendations, rather something like "Jim has endorsed seesom for [Skill or Industry]". I do not think they appear on my profile yet since I have not "approved" them. What is the ettiquette for these? Have they helped you at all? Should I return the favor for those who have endorsed me if I can genuinely recommend their work? At first glance, they don't appear to be very useful since it seems like it doesn't take much to endorse someone, but I would like to take advantage of LinkedIn to help keep in touch with people. Any experiences you have had would be helpful.
posted by seesom to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Just so you know, LinkedIn is telling your contacts that you ASKED them for endorsements. When I started getting endorsements recently I asked a coworker why she did that and she said she got a notification from LinkedIn that I requested it (and I did no such thing). Not sure about any benefits, but just thought you'd like to know LinkedIn is putting words in your mouth, so to speak. They're not entirely unsolicited.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

LinkedIn has a mode where it gives you a list of people and skills, and you can click on "Yes" or "No" on them. I think most people get an email notification of an endorsement or two, think "hey, this is cool, I should reciprocate", and the next thing you know you're trying to decide if ex-cow-orker you haven't seen in 7 years used this cool technology that you may have once talked about at lunch so you click "Yes", and the ridiculous chain letter propagates exponentially.

I've been endorsed for some wonderfully amusing skills; sure, I could bullshit my way through them, but it's more giggle-inducing than actually flattering.

But, hey, it's LinkedIn: FarmVille for bored cube workers, with more friend requests from far off lands than Google+. Click on something, or not, and who knows what sort of random may come out of it. Personally, I'm not offended if people ignore my profile there, but I am often amused when people take an interest in it.
posted by straw at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

My contacts and I, mainly grad student/postdoc physical scientists, have been using them. To the extent that people have high standards about endorsements I think it should be meaningful, since there are lots of different techniques and areas of research that we could know about but only some that we've really specialized in.
posted by ecsh at 4:26 PM on January 7, 2013

Generally speaking, you yourself would have listed specific skills in your LinkedIn profile.

As a new thing, LinkedIn is encouraging your LinkedIn connections to endorse these skills.

For example, my skills are walking and chewing gum at the same time, and belching the alphabet.

When my contacts log into LinkedIn, LinkedIn encourages them to endorse these skills of mine at the push of a button. It's almost like a welcome screen, and people are probably endorsing these skills of mine to get the damn screen to go away.

LinkedIn endorsements are worse than useless. I hate them, actually, because no thought is put into the endorsement, yet some skills of mine will have more endorsements than others, making it look as though I am somehow fibbing about my lower-ranking skills (I am not).

To give you an example of how stupid and useless LinkedIn endorsements are, my #1 endorsed skill is "Japanese" (I have worked as a J>E translator). I have been endorsed for Japanese by people who have no objective way of evaluating this skill - they don't speak Japanese, and they've never worked on a translation project with me (luckily some of my clients and colleagues have endorsed me for this).

But it's just a dumb gimmick that really detracts from what little credibility LinkedIn has with most people.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

I complained to LinkedIn, because this new thing fills me with rage, but I realized after browsing the site for 5 minutes that those requests pop up basically every other page. If my contacts get bored enough, they click on them. It doesn't mean anything.

Guh, but I hate it so much.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

From a hiring standpoint, they usually don't hurt, but rarely help, unless it's from someone who matters (as subjective as that is). In terms of whether to reciprocate, my take is that it's kind of like when you get a wink on a dating website. You take from it what you will but in a general sense they are usually meaningless.
posted by sm1tten at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2013

At first people were endorsing others just because it was the new feature to do and they were hoping you would return the (unsolicited) favor.. but now I think people accidentally endorse others just to make the pop-ups go away.
posted by xicana63 at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2013

LinkedIn is not, as far as I know, telling contacts that you asked for these endorsements. You do have the opportunity to request recommendations from your contacts, but this is not the same thing.

Sometimes when I (or your contacts) sign into LinkedIn, a box appears that says, "Do you endorse _____ for (skill)?" I've also seen it say "Does ____ know about (skill)?" I have never seen any language indicating that these people asked me for these endorsements; in fact, they're often presented as a batch of people to endorse, so I think it's pretty clear that it's LinkedIn promoting this.

Yes, I would display them if they're relevant to what you do. You're definitely right that it doesn't take much to endorse someone, but if you've been endorsed by several people for some skill, it does show that you have a good network of contacts who respect your work enough to attach their name and picture to endorsing it. Yes, I think it's good karma to endorse other people if you respect their work.

LinkedIn is not just for keeping in touch anymore, but also for being found by recruiters or people who are deciding whether they want to give you a job. No one will give you a job on the basis of these endorsements alone, but having and displaying them shows not only that you're well-connected but also that you are social media savvy (a skill that is increasingly more and more in demand).
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 6:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

I hate them - I think they're almost embarrassing so I haven't given any or approved any. IMHO it's a stupid gimmick - but a lot of social networks is throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks.

But I'm 45yo so WTF do I know (or care) about social-media-savvy-punk-rock-stereo-music!
posted by Long Way To Go at 7:24 PM on January 7, 2013

I've gotten unsolicited endorsements from people. Some of them I've approved, but others I've ignored—in some cases, unfortunately, the people giving me the endorsements MISSPELLED the skills they were endorsing me for, there's no option to edit the endorsement text, and I have no idea what the etiquette would be for requesting an update to an unsolicited endorsement. (It's actually kind of ironic—one of the misspelled skills has to do with copy editing.)

It's kind of nice to get that email notification saying someone randomly said I was good at something, but on the other hand, there are definitely some problems with the whole thing.
posted by limeonaire at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2013

I've just recently read a couple of articles regarding LinkedIn's endorsements that you might find helpful: Forbes and Mashable.
posted by evolvinglines at 8:31 PM on January 7, 2013

My brother and sister are both LinkedIn contacts of mine. Of course they are excellent at whatever they do and I am happy to enthusiastically endorse them for whatever qualification they claim because they are great in all areas so they must be great at that one.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:34 PM on January 7, 2013

LinkedIn seems to be a place to store a resume, and other than that, I find it pretty useless. Like Facebook, they add/modify what they are/do so often I can't keep up. To keep up, I'd have to give a damn about LinkedIn, and I don't. Probably won't. If they every charge for it, I'm gone.

I get the requests to endorse and/or recommend, but can discern no patterns regarding who or when. Someone's chickensht algorithm at work.
posted by FauxScot at 1:25 AM on January 8, 2013

My contacts have been asked to endorse me. What has happened is that I am apparently now amazing at skill x, which was always a minor function of my role. Because LinkedIn keeps suggesting this skill to my contacts and I suppose they don't think I'm bad at it I keep getting endorsed for it, although most of them would have no idea if I'm any good at it from our work interactions.

In short: these endorsements are a pile of crap although as an aggregated data set they might be extremely useful for LinkedIn's decision making and commercial strategy.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:50 AM on January 8, 2013

The endorsements thing bothers me too, and I think LinkedIn has made a bad mistake in the old signal-to-noise department.

However: the thing to bear in mind is that YOU are not LinkedIn's target audience. Their target audience is HR departments and recruiters worldwide who need to sift through unimaginably large data sets. This is (one of) their attempts to make those data sets more manageable.

In that regard, I don't think this is an attempt to make the site more social or "sticky" (do the cool kids still call things, "sticky?"). It's an attempt to put additional deep qualifiers on a potential pool of candidates to make things easier for those who hire, not those who seek.

So I think the best thing you can do is take all the endorsements you can get while giving as few out as possible to keep your own profile, "legit."
posted by digitalprimate at 10:44 AM on January 8, 2013

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