I Have always been a big supporter of recommendations on LinkedIn, I know some people abuse the feature by collecting insincere testimonials from anyone and everyone but on the whole they are a pretty good indication of the qualities that someone possesses. The reality is that someone is only likely to take the time to write a recommendation if they genuinely know enough about you and feel the world should know how good you are. This is why I thought it was a backward step when LinkedIn removed the number of recommendations from the top section of a profile in the recent re-design. The number is not the most important thing but it did at least bring the reader's attention to the fact that you had recommendations on your profile. In contrast I see the new skills endorsements feature as severely lacking any credibility!
Its seems as though our home pages have been filled with notifications of people racing to endorse each other, some may be very genuine but as it requires merely a click of a button, its impossible to tell so the logical conclusion is that it means very little.
My experience was that I logged on to find that a friend of mine had endorsed me for the skill 'LinkedIn' I clicked on this link and was presented with 4 other connections and an invitation to endorse a skill for each of them See below (this feature has since disappeared for me)
I can click on each person and endorse them for that specific skill or I can just click on 'Endorse all 4' and because it is easy to just click all 4 I think most people will do that, without even looking at what the skills are!
I found myself looking at certain connections (not the above ones) and thinking 'Can I really say they know about that?' For instance a specialist financial recruiter who has 'statutory accounting' as a skill....would I employ them to do my accounts?!
The problem is that most people won't even give it a thought and that makes this feature a complete waste of the digital space it occupies!
You can even add more skills to a connections profile is you wish, the below box appears at the top of a connections profile.
Again the temptation here is to just click the yellow 'Endorse' box thereby endorsing all skills listed, without giving it any real consideration.
I have to say that I really don't get it but for the purpose of balance, here is a quote from a fan of endorsements written in a recent group discussion I was involved with;
"Endorsements are 'public' approvals for certain skill sets, the credence comes from multiple people giving a thumbs-up. Of course they are open to abuse (just like Recommendations) but you will get a more granular evaluation of an individual's capabilities and over time, the accuracy of these public likes ought to improve over time".
I can see where LinkedIn are coming from with this and the above comment (not from LinkedIn) is a credible argument but it all feels very 'Facebook' to me. I never take the blind bit of notice if a friend 'likes' a brand/company/service on Facebook. Do you?
So where are LinkedIn going with this? First they introduce skills at the same time as removing the 'specialties' section without any explanation and then endorsements...what next?
I have no inside knowledge on this, just a gut feeling that this is all part of a bigger plan. They initially built a list of skills (originally you could just add anything yourself), then they made skills a requirement of having a 100% profile (a clear sign they had bigger plans for skills) and now endorsements. I suspect that we will see skills become a searchable feature (not currently the case) where result rankings are determined by the number of endorsements. This may well be a premium feature, only available to high level upgrades or corporate recruiter licences - I suspect that this level of attention by LinkedIn suggests some commercial intention.
Only time will tell, maybe I will have to eat my words in 6 months time.
What do you think? All views are very welcome.