LinkedIn has an interesting feature, and has for years. People with whom you are connected can write a recommendation of your work at a particular position. I have a number of recommendations from connections of mine, both for work as well as my networking efforts. I like these. They represent someone having to give thought to what they say, and base those thoughts on some experience with my presentation, my work, my networking efforts, etc. I’m glad I have them on my profile.
Fairly recently LinkedIn has put up a new feature – “endorsements”. Unlike their recommendations feature, these require no thought, just a button click. LinkedIn not only keys off of skills you have entered on your own, it uses an algorithm to try and present other topics for people to endorse.
People, for the most part, are well-intentioned. I’ve gotten lots of endorsements in all sorts of things – and I know it’s done to help me especially in my quest to find a new job. Here’s the first problem: most people who have clicked a button cannot possibly have had experience with my work practices justifying their endorsement.
Again, I understand that people want to help others, and it’s a great thing that justifies my belief that most people are fundamentally good. I hate to say it, though, that the people who – no matter their admirable intentions – click through to endorse me when they cannot possibly have knowledge of my actual abilities in that topic are cheapening the endorsement process. And what’s worse, anyone with any experience on LinkedIn knows it. Which, IMHO, makes it useless.
If you want to help me, write a recommendation for me. If we haven’t worked together, write a recommendation for me about my networking, advocate for me on a personal basis, or how well I’ve helped others. That’d be fine and dandy. But please, if we haven’t worked together, don’t endorse me for a work-related skill.
The second thing is that, as mentioned above, LinkedIn clearly gleans patterns from endorsements to create new possibilities for people to click. I’ve been endorsed for things I absolutely, positively am not comfortable being endorsed on.
For example, I have not used Pro-Engineer for nigh-unto 20 years. That hasn’t stopped people from endorsing me for my ability in this CAD program. I have actually posted in my Update to please not endorse me for it. The same for medical devices; thought I’ve worked in medical devices for a few months at a couple of different medical device companies, it’s not enough to justify my wanting such an endorsement. Now it’s popping with endorsements – which I reject – for my ability in start-up companies.
So I am hereby declaring war on endorsements.
- I will not endorse anyone for anything unless I am confident I have had enough experience with them to be honest in my endorsement. I will not just push a button because it’s there.
- I formally ask that anyone considering endorsing me for anything truly consider if they know me well enough in that field to honestly do so.
- If you are not sure about such an endorsement… ask me first.
Thomas Paine, famous in the American Revolution, once wrote “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”
Endorsements are too easily given – given with no real thought or reflection, but just a cursor move and key click – and thus they have destroyed their own value.
© 2013, David Hunt, PE