Endorsements are a Two-Way Street
Endorsements on LinkedIn offer references the ability to voice their recognition of your skills as valid. They give their seal of approval. These skills can be as broad as team building and as specific as Microsoft Excel. The problem I have with believing endorsements, is that they are made by people who are largely friends.
LinkedIn is a social network and if you observe, many ‘friends on there help each other out. Let’s say for example an old classmate, endorsed you for management ability. You are going to be much more inclined to return the favor and endorse one of their skill sets. Look at any given persons endorsements and follow them. They are very often a too way street.
Endorsements are Often Fabricated
Another problem I have with LinkedIn endorsements is that many are just a flat out fabrication. A former employer of mine had listed social media as a skill. I know everyone does these days (I won’t!) however, this man truly was from the stone age. His website is still full of flashy elements of the 90’s, is a horrible domain name and has more html errors than someones first Notepad project! Yet, today a former colleague just endorsed him for social media. Even better, his company is only on Facebook, hardly ever updating or offering incentives to potential customers. Does that show expertise? Especially when he doesn’t work on it but one of his staff. Hardly.
I happen to think a good old fashioned reference is far superior to an endorsement. It really is a cop out to rely on endorsements on Facebook. It is not difficult to put up an account on there at all. It’s social so it becomes fun. There is little formal conversation, and so endorsements can be made in someones pajamas.
When a real reference is called upon it requires some thinking. It requires a conversation to take place (often in person or by phone). It has a personal touch, which is much more effective at making an impact.
Again, maybe I’m from the stone age. Maybe I’m missing something big with LinkedIn and just not familiar with how useful it is. But what I see is a bunch of people wasting their time, building social capital, when they should be working hard to make real connections and real references.