I’ve read my fair share of articles hating on LinkedIn endorsements. Honestly, I think LinkedIn endorsements are a pretty good feature. They allow people to provide positive information about their connections quickly and easily. Because let’s face it, it’s hard to get recommendations. They take time to write and we struggle to come up with the exact right words to say. Endorsements give us those words.
But like many new things, we have to understand how they work in order to really benefit from them. So I reached out to Brad Mauney, group product manager at LinkedIn, to get some education and insight about endorsements. Brad is the resident guru on endorsements and I really learned a lot during our conversation.
Give us a brief description of LinkedIn endorsements.
[Brad] Skill endorsements, which were introduced in 2012, are a simple and effective way to build your professional brand and engage your professional network. Not only are they a great way to recognize your first-degree connections’ skills and expertise with one click, they also let your connections validate the strengths found on your own profile.
How do they differ from LinkedIn recommendations?
[Brad] An endorsement is a one-click way for a member to endorse a first-degree connection’s specific skill, whereas a recommendation is a written statement from a connection.
I’ve seen some articles that say LinkedIn endorsements don’t mean anything. What value does a LinkedIn endorsement provide?
[Brad] Endorsements have quickly become a popular feature on LinkedIn. In fact, more than two billion endorsements have been given on LinkedIn to-date. This feature allows anyone who is viewing your profile to quickly see your top skills based on how many endorsements you have for each. While a single endorsement taken in isolation may not provide a ton of insight, if someone is endorsed for a single skill 99 times, that becomes a very powerful way to understand their key strengths and the strength of their network.
Are endorsements searchable?
[Brad] Not exactly. Users can’t do a direct search for a single endorsement. But LinkedIn’s algorithms do take your skills and endorsements into account. Let’s say you’re a human resources professional located the Southeast U.S. with 99+ HR skill endorsements. And your profile indicates that you’re looking for a new opportunity. The LinkedIn algorithm will use that combination of factors to share jobs you might be interested in.
It’s also worth noting that if a user is out there putting humorous skills in their profile – like ‘tractor’ or ‘footprints’ – it has the opposite effect. The algorithm may have a harder time helping users the way it’s intended to.
One thing I look at are the specific skills a person is being endorsed in. For example, I’m a training and organizational development consultant. So I want training and OD related skills at the top of my endorsements. Only makes sense. But I don’t want to game the endorsement process to get those skills at the top. What can users can do to make sure the skills that best reflect their expertise are at the top of their endorsements?
[Brad] Members have full control of what appears on their profile, including which endorsements and endorsers are listed.
Just to confirm, if someone endorses me and I don’t want that endorsement on my profile, I can delete it?
Okay, I gotta ask. Why would someone want to be connected to a person and not want their endorsement?
[Brad] It’s a great question and I can see where it might seem counter-intuitive. But it does happen. The feedback we’ve received indicates that perceptions about the endorser’s professionalism and personal brand factor greatly into the decision. Some users have told us that they view endorsements as very personal (like recommendations).
We also have discovered that users who are very liberal regarding who they connect with may not want to receive endorsements from these weak connections and decide to remove them But that being said, we are really talking about a very small number of people who delete endorsements.
The other situation, which must be tough, is when I see a profile that has no endorsements. Obviously, no one wants to go begging for endorsements. How can a user start getting endorsements?
[Brad] A great way to start building your professional brand is to add the skills and expertise to your profile that best represent you, so your first degree connections can endorse you for the skills you’ve listed. The number of endorsements you receive is also related to the size of your network and the degree to which others are interacting with your profile.
I’ve noticed some people have a very large number of endorsed skills. Is there a good number of skills to display on your profile?
[Brad] The average member on LinkedIn lists about 10 skills on their profile. The top ten ‘endorsed’ skills are what show up at the top. I would recommend focusing on the smaller set of skills that are most important to you and your job, instead of trying to catalog everything possible skill you have.
Where’s the best place to show endorsements on your profile – before or after experience?
[Brad] We’re starting to see some trends in this area. Job seekers are starting to place their endorsements immediately after the SUMMARY. The rationale being they want recruiters to see those endorsements right away and hopefully it will compel the recruiter to read the rest of the profile.
On the flip side, recruiters are telling us that when they visit a profile, they search for the endorsements section even if it’s after the EXPERIENCE section. They use endorsements almost as a first-pass filter. If the user looks interesting, they read the profile from the bottom up.
Last question, what other things do recruiters look for when viewing endorsements on a user profile?
[Brad] Recruiters don’t just look at the skills you’re being endorsed for, they also evaluate who is doing the endorsing – in terms of the endorser’s title, experience and shared connections. For example, your pet sitter endorsing you for ‘project management’ may offer less valuable insight than your current boss or a colleague endorsing you for “project management.”
My thanks to Brad and the LinkedIn team for giving us the scoop on endorsements. I hope you found the information as interesting as I did. Be sure to stay current on using Linked by reading the LinkedIn blog.
What’s your experience been with LinkedIn endorsements? Let us know your thoughts!