Endorsements are a feature that LinkedIn is now trying to push over recommendations. An endorsement when someone says that you have a specific skill. It’s as easy as liking something on Facebook, and LinkedIn is now putting much more emphasis on endorsements than it is on recommendations.
Unfortunately, endorsements, in their current form, are worse than useless. They’re extremely dangerous.
How it works
When you go to someone’s page, and haven’t been there in a while, a box will pop up at the top listing several skills. It will automatically fill that with a list of skills. It essentially asks you if you believe that person has those skills.
Each item has a little X next to it, so you can delete specific skills. You can even add new skills that aren’t listed. Then once you’ve adjusted the list, you can endorse them all at once.
What it doesn’t tell you is that some of those skills are made up!
Essentially, the list of skills at the top includes both specific skills that person has said they have, as well as skills LinkedIn’s algorithms think they’re likely to have. You may find yourself going to someone else’s page and saying, “Oh, I trust them. I’m sure they’re good at all this stuff.” But if you’re looking at the box up top, you’re may be looking at skills they didn’t even enter.
Of course, if I scroll down to the bottom of her profile, it shows the list of skills she’s entered. I can safely endorse the skills on there, as long as I agree.
Why recommendations are better
With recommendations, you have to actually put a little energy, time, and thought into writing some words. You have to be able to articulate what you think about someone and their skills. So there is more effort involved. Recommendations are fairly useful in providing social proof that someone is well qualified.
Why endorsements are extremely dangerous
Endorsements are so easy to give that they will become worthless. But being easy isn’t enough to make them dangerous.
I only discovered the automatically listed skills through experimentation. Most people don’t know about the made up skills. So people will probably look at my profile and say to themselves, “Oh, I believe Tim. I’m sure he’s a great graphic designer.” Of course, I would never say that. I work with great graphic designers, but am not one myself.
That makes them worse than worthless. It’s far too easy for one individual to endorse another individual for a skill they don’t have.
That will lead to massive amounts of false information on LinkedIn, which makes endorsements extremely dangerous.