LinkedIn’s new ‘Endorsements’ feature turns your page into a popularity contest

‘Endorsements’ enables people to give their peers a shout out for specific skills and expertise. The author thinks this cheapens the social networking site.

Logging into my LinkedIn profile this week, I noticed something new in my activity feed. Some of my colleagues and peers were having some of their skills “endorsed” by other users.

These skills ranged from operational excellence, Web content management, STEM advocacy, online marketing, and open source (yes I work with a lot of techie folks); I wasn’t sure what was going on.

Checking the LinkedIn blog I learned of a new feature called Endorsements, where users could give their peers a shout out for specific skills and expertise.

Once a skill or expertise of yours is endorsed, you receive a point for that particular talent. The profile pic of the connection that gave you a +1 on that skill will appear under an endorsements tab in your profile. Ideally, endorsements look to create a Klout-esque experience on LinkedIn, a way for you to not only tout your skills and abilities, but also a chance to prove your chops with an affirmation of those in your social network.

For me, this feature falls flat.

LinkedIn has become one of the most popular social networking sites on the Web. The site has been instrumental in connecting professionals with peers across industry and helpful for both those searching for jobs as well as those needing to fill positions. Because résumés are most often made public, people tend to be more truthful about their professional background and skills. All these qualities have made LinkedIn an indispensible tool for many professionals in their daily work lives.

The Endorsement feature cheapens some of these accomplishments; it turns a candidates profile/résumé effectively into a “Like” contest. People will be incentivized to get their friends, or very loose acquaintances that don’t know them, to click a button to endorse skill sets.

I love the LinkedIn Recommendation feature; it requires both time and thought in order to recommend a person, not to mention the fact that someone won’t blindly recommend a person because their name is attached to that recommendation. While the profile pic is appended to an endorsement, it doesn’t carry the same gravitas and can quickly get buried as others endorse the person.

In the near future, I can see HR departments and recruiters looking at that section on a LinkedIn profile and filtering out candidates who don’t have enough endorsement points. This effectively can shut the door on talented applicants, while letting in people whose endorsements come from their college buddies and a handful of participants at that PR conference in Cheboygan last spring. This is the main reason that I dislike the Endorsement feature—it turns your résumé into a popularity contest.

That said, if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to visit my LinkedIn profile and endorse my blogging skill; it looks pretty pathetic right now and could use some points.

Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and has experience as a technical project manager in the cloud. He enjoys writing about how the cloud is spurring innovation for startups, small businesses, and enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @pinojo.


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