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So… for the last few weeks, a new mystery feature called “Skills Endorsement” has magically appeared at the top of my LinkedIn profile, most every time I go to my LinkedIn (LI) page. Not every time, but often enough. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.
No explanation. No instructions for use. Just 4 smiling faces of people I am connected to, each paired with one randomly selected skill that LI displays from among the many skills that person may have listed in their profile.
Lately, I’ve seen a new variation. A single person is listed, and multiple skills for that person are displayed, as in the example above. (Note that for privacy, I purposely chose a colleague who does not use a photo, though it’s more common that a photo is included.)
In either case, at the top of this new section is a single question asking if I’d like to endorse any or all of these colleagues for the skill(s) shown.
A “Yes” click usually results in more connections being presented with a request to endorse their skills, ad infinitum.
Since no instructions were provided for use, I’ve been confused about many features. Perhaps you have been too. To start with:
Kathy Bernard, a career consultant with GetaJobTips.com, recently wrote a couple of articles on this very same topic. Her first post posed many of the same questions that I’ve mentioned above, and asked followers what they thought of this feature. Her next post listed some of the comments she received, (mine included), with the promise of answers to follow.
And now, her newest post delivers on that promise. Her article titled, “How to Get and Give LinkedIn Endorsements” directed me to info, buried on LinkedIn’s site, that finally explains how the Endorsement feature works.
Some of these issues remain unresolved. I still don’t know how to change the skill that my colleagues see about me, for example, but these new instructions provide a good start as to what this feature is all about, how to endorse others and more. So, here goes:
Endorsing Someone Else’s Skills on LinkedIn
This is the one explanation I find most useful. (For instructions, click the blue hypertext link.)
Explanations of LinkedIn’s Other “Endorsement” Features
LinkedIn also covers a range of other Endorsement-related topics, including all of the following, which I’ve copied verbatim from their explanations page. Go to their Overview to access all these links from one central page, or click on the specific topic of interest, below.
Be Mindful of SEC Regulations
I was surprised to learn from a friend in the financial sector that some industries do not allow customer testimonials. Specifically, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra) prohibit such endorsements. There may be other industries with similar regulations.
For those affected by such rulings, unfortunately, LinkedIn currently does not offer an easy way to opt-out of receiving endorsements from others. However you can hide the entire Skills and Endorsements section. (For instructions, see that link, above.)
Alternatively, though not ideal, you can set your account to send an alert each time you receive an endorsement, and then individually hide the endorsement – though it will never be entirely deleted. (At least, that’s the way it currently works. LI may change this at some point.)
What’s the Value of Endorsements vs. Recommendations?
So, now that you know how the Endorsements feature works, does it have value?
As many others have commented in articles, blogs, and LinkedIn’s discussion groups, Endorsements will never take the place of LinkedIn’s original Recommendations feature.
Recommendations are from people you’ve actually worked with, who can comment specifically on your traits and skills, and who took the time to actually write something about you. It takes inside knowledge, time and thought to produce a recommendation.
Endorsements, on the other hand, take just a click of the button, no real thought at all, and, amazingly, can come from complete strangers. Well, strangers who have become a first level connection with you – perhaps through a networking event or LI Group, but whom you may very well have never actually worked with.
Seems to me, that unless the endorser actually knows that you possess a particular skill or strength through first-hand experience working with you, or by carefully following your many articles and blogs, or hearing you speak authoritatively on a topic, they shouldn’t be endorsing you for that skill. I don’t endorse people I don’t know well; and likewise, even if we’re good colleagues, I don’t endorse skills that I’m unclear my colleagues possess.
Bottom line, recommendations are far better than endorsements, and if you don’t have many, you should ask your colleagues, vendors and customers to consider writing a Recommendation for you.
Watch For Tomorrow’s Post with More Great Tips
In fact, tomorrow, I’ll re-post an article I recently saw on new ways to supercharge your LinkedIn profile. It’s among the best I’ve seen lately. Meantime, did you find this article helpful? Please comment below, tweet or share with friends, family and colleagues, or post on your own blog. And keep an eye out for tomorrow’s follow-up article with even more tips and resources for using LinkedIn effectively.
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