linkedin flagCan we just talk about LinkedIn for a moment? I use LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, most notably to connect with other professionals for the chance to land new business or have a place to look for a job (should I ever get back into the employment game).

I remember when recommendations were the topic discussed by recruiters and HR Pros. Who should give them? Do you have to reciprocate? How embellished should they (or might they) be? Recommendations were tough to categorize.

It may be for that reason that the endorsements feature was born. And while many might find the endorsement feature a bit of an ego boost (I know I do!) it’s sort of…useless beyond the initial few weeks of use. Let me explain:

LinkedIn Endorsements have no QA process: I can endorse anyone I want, for anything I want. So too, can people who have never met me, let alone worked with me, endorse me to any skill they so choose. They don’t have to include my email address and they don’t have to say in what capacity they’ve worked with me. The caveat to this is that someone can be endorsed for something like “blogging” by readers who enjoy reading their blog, presumably because they’ve been positively affected by the person’s work despite not knowing them personally.

LinkedIn Endorsements are too easy to collect: At least Recommendations had a quasi community policing aspect to it. If you saw that someone had the exact (or close) same amount of recommendations as they’d given, you knew something fishy was afoot. And if they had 500 recommendations after ten years in the workforce, you knew they were begging for LI recs like it was their JOB (which they probably were between). But when you have to click to accept recommendations before scrolling down your own profile or anyone else’s, you just click.

LinkedIn Endorsements are not discerning: Again, when you get the ask before you even get to look at someone’s profile (the UX behind this is fascinating) it’s very tempting to just click and give them the endorsement for “strategy” even though you maybe wanted to endorse them for “cat knowledge”. In fact, this is such an issue that groups of like-minded people are endorsing one another for completely hilarious skills like “clock procurement” or “pooping”. It’s not discerning, it’s a joke.

So how do we get past these and find value in Endorsements? Here are six things you can do to show you appreciate appropriate LinkedIn endorsements:

Apply the LinkedIn endorsements from people you know. This adds an element of quality control to your endorsements. In the short run, you will have fewer endorsements but when the dust starts to clear, it will be apparent that your endorsements of higher quality… I hope.

Skip endorsements that don’t speak to your best strengths. If someone endorses you for “social recruiting”, but you’d rather being know for “talent acquisition strategy” skip that one and accept the ones that are closer for where you want your career to go.

Add strengths to your profile. Did you know just like you can skip the ones you don’t want, you can add your desired strengths and endorsement categories to the list. In this way you can curate a list that mirrors your actual professional experience.

Endorse selectively. For some reason, humans are hard wired to think they owe folks reciprocal endorsement. Don’t do this! You don’t have to accept their endorsement on your profile and even if you accept it, you don’t have to endorse back. These are the professional equivalent of co-dependents. Don’t feed the beast. Endorse those who you would recommend.

Start using and GIVING recommendations. Recommendations are experiencing a bit of a renaissance, because compared to endorsements, they seem to carry more weight. They take more time to ask for, write, review and post. It’s like 4 days and 17 clicks for those things and people that don’t know your work will no longer supply them, especially if they can ease their conscience or worry by simply endorsing you.

Use them as an intro. Some people want to meet you and want your social influence in return. Using their uninvited endorsement can be a great way to meet new people and once you’ve discovered their value, perhaps you CAN accept their endorsement and endorse them in return.

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