If you aren’t actively using LinkedIn, you should. Many reports and research point towards the growing trend of professional networking as of the keys to career success. By now, you may be accustomed to LinkedIn endorsement notifications absolutely stuffing your e-mail inbox to the breaking point. Just so we’re clear about this, the LinkedIn endorsement feature is very different from the LinkedIn recommendation feature. LinkedIn recommendations still encompasses that traditional seriousness of a written recommendation from somebody who can actually vouch for your work, your skills and your professionalism.
Endorsements, on the other hand, can be given and received with a simple push of a button. What’s more, they may not always reflect your true competencies. People may not endorse you for what they believe you’re truly good at. How many times did you receive an endorsement from someone on LinkedIn you have never even spoken to or worked with? Much like the Facebook like feature, many people spend their time exchanging endorsements with one another.
I want to be perfectly clear with you. What I’ve listed above is a gross misuse of LinkedIn’s wonderful and effective features. These misuses are just a few reasons why specialists recommend we use LinkedIn Endorsement feature wisely. Furthermore, they recommend that we don’t place all of our bets on our endorsements when looking for a job or prospecting the waters of a new industry to work in.
When LinkedIn first implemented the Endorsement button, it received unanimous appreciation. Tony Deblauwe, senior HR manager/business partner at Citrix, said
Having a range of people in your network specify certain skills that they feel you do best provides an interesting data point for recruiters looking at your profile,
while Larry Stybel, president and CEO of Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire (a company that deals with career management and leadership development), admitted
I have a search for a VP and I see two potential candidates rated highly in a skill. But one candidate is rated highly by someone I respect. I will contact that individual for a detailed reference without the candidate’s knowledge. In other words, this may be a tool that can reduce risk to ‘buyers.’
Well, that’s fine and dandy. However, the endorsement feature has since been misused by the many members of the LinkedIn community. One may question whether the Endorsement feature works at all given the current climate at LinkedIn. For starters, the biggest danger in using the feature is that it can be easily turned into a commodity of sorts as we noted before (ie: you endorse someone with a bogus endorsement. In turn, he endorses you with a bogus endorsement). Here are a few basic pointers on how to use the LinkedIn endorsement feature wisely. In doing so, hopefully we can use the feature for good (as opposed to serving our self interests) and change the climate of LinkedIn for the better:
– use the Endorsement button to truly vouch for a person’s proven skills and competencies
– endorse only those you have actually worked with (professionals who have been using the set of skills in more than one occasion and in a prolonged period of time). For instance, a LinkedIn member with a Facebook profile doesn’t qualify as having social media marketing skills just based on those merits alone.
– don’t be tricked into trading an endorsement in exchange for your own endorsement. These endorsements may look good on paper. In a real life job application situation, you may miss out on a career opportunity if the hiring manager checks up on your true skills and finds out that you’re not qualified in an area your endorsements say you are. Honesty is the best policy.
– endorse people you have worked with for skills and abilities they might not be aware about they have (or may not advertise themselves as having). These skills and abilities may include talents they have proven in their work but which still need confirmation/validation. This part can be a bit tricky as it seems to contradict the point above. However, the difference here is that the member in question truly has a powerful skill that can be tested and quantified. A “fake” skill, no matter how much endorsement the skill receives, will always fail any competence test.
But we like to receive endorsement notifications in our e-mail, don’t we? We like the volunteer vouching some people offer us. No matter how good our ego feels about these “recommendations,” don’t pat your own back for how a great professional you are unless you receive legitimate endorsements from people you trust, have worked with and are also trusted by men like Larry Stybel. If your high school sweetheart endorses you for a skill you have and the member is just another anonymous LinkedIn user (as opposed to a influential member of a certain industry), that endorsement is just as shallow as a member of liking his or her own status. It may pushes the status up a millimeter in the News Feed. But, the push will never be enough to make the status go viral. This stuff is common sense guys. Let’s get on LinkedIn and use it the way it was intended! If you have any other professional social media grievances or would like to share your experiences with the misuse of LinkedIn endorsements, please continue this conversation on our Facebook page. While you’re there, don’t forget to like us!