If you are a user of LinkedIn as I am, you should be familiar with two of its features: Endorsements and Recommendations. Both are great ideas. Endorsements give your connections the ability to share with others where they think your talents lie. Recommendations give your connections a way to share with others their opinions about your work. These sound like great things to have on your profile, right? Not exactly.
I’d argue that Endorsements are nearly useless unless the only people endorsing you are the ones you worked with or worked for, and chances are pretty good you have a lot more endorsements from a lot more people. If you look at my profile for example, you’ll see the Skills and Expertise I have listed include things like Talent Management (22 Endorsements), Compensation (2 Endorsements), and Human Resources (19 Endorsements). The Talent Management endorsements break down as follows:
- 12 from co-workers or other professional relationships
- 5 from people I know through fraternal organizations
- 3 from people I know through social organizations
- 1 cousin
- 1 online friend
So if my math is right, just over half the people who endorsed me for Talent Management have been in a position to observe me utilizing that skill in the workplace. The others? Just being nice, I suppose.
To me, Recommendations are a lot like references. Instead of a prospective employer calling someone who will speak highly of you with a checklist of questions, you’re giving that person the opportunity to share their opinion of your abilities using their own words. How much more meaningful is that? They can take all the time they need to think about what they want to say, compose it, and send it to you to include on your profile. Even better, the people writing the Recommendations can edit them at any time, whether to fix typos or add new information.
Given a choice between a candidate with a few good Recommendations and one with a lot of Endorsements, which is going to be more attractive to a recruiter? I know what my answer would be.