Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of endorsements. They provide a simple and practical way for people who know you – from work or school or wherever – to vouch for your various skills. In theory, they work as an excellent companion to the recommendation. You don’t want someone writing you a recommendation that reads, “Joe is good at design. Joe is good at PhotoShop. Joe knows how to use FinalCut.” With endorsements, a recommender can focus on the more abstract stuff – how your personality and work ethic make you a great coworker, or how perceptive you are to a client’s needs – and then hammer home your individual skills down at the bottom of the page.
Like I said, I love the idea, but that’s not how it goes. In reality, you get twelve notifications a day letting you know that your bunkmate from summer camp endorsed you for “Revenue Stream Analysis” and “ROI Adjusting” and a myriad of other things that you wouldn’t have possibly expressed interest in or aptitude for the last time you saw each other… when you were ten.
This essentially renders all other endorsements meaningless, because if it’s just as easy for someone who barely knows you to endorse you as it is for someone who knows you well, what’s the point?
A big part of this is LinkedIn’s fault. You can’t go anywhere on LinkedIn without being asked, “Does Sarah know blogging?” or “Does Craig know pumpkin carving?” And then all you need to do to put your face next to that skill on their Skills and Experience section is click a single button. It’s so easy to just click that button, but don’t! Not unless you know those people possess those skills.
Now, you might be thinking, “What does it matter? A potential employer doesn’t have to know that only a third of the people endorsing me actually know me well enough to do so.” But here’s the thing: a potential employer does know. This is a universal LinkedIn experience. Show me someone who hasn’t gotten a bunch of uninformed LinkedIn endorsements and I’ll show you a brand new LinkedIn user.
And you know what else a potential employer knows? That some of those skills listed in your endorsement sections were generated by LinkedIn algorithms and added to your profile by other people. So now a potential employer has to wonder not only which endorsements are legit but also which skills are real, and investigating that would take about ten-thousand times longer than just ignoring the Skills and Experience section altogether.
So, in short, by endorsing everyone for everything, we’re making endorsements something that no one cares about. So please, let’s chill out with the endorsements and only endorse people we know, okay?