LinkedIn Endorsements and Your Job Search

Controversial topics can enliven your job search–for instance, they give you opinions on multiple sides of an issue that potentially affects your ongoing career success. LinkedIn’s endorsements feature is one of those topics. I’ve written about it before, but based on what I’m reading and hearing these days, it merits another look.

What People are saying about LinkedIn Endorsements

I have just been reading a thread on LinkedIn by people commenting on the Endorsements feature. Out of dozens–maybe hundreds–of comments, not one comment was favorable! The thread apparently started around mid-2013 and has continued as of April 2014. As near as I can tell, all the commenters on the thread are job seekers or potential job seekers. If any were hiring managers, recruiters, etc., I missed those.

The views ranged from “a waste of time” to “potentially damaging to your career image.” Frequent themes centered around the feeling that LinkedIn has essentially forced endorsements down the throats of its members and is 100% non-responsive to their unhappiness. Basically, these people feel as if they’re seeing a corporate mentality from LinkedIn that says to members, “If you don’t like our rules, take your marbles and go home.”

Can You Opt-Out of LinkedIn Endorsements?

Some people indicated that they have participated, reluctantly, but have made an effort to limit the level of inappropriate activity–such as people endorsing them for skills they either don’t have or don’t want to emphasize in their LinkedIn profile. Others mentioned their efforts to opt-out of the endorsement feature in one way or another.

If you go to the LinkedIn Help Center and search for “Opting Out of Endorsements,” you will find tips on how to prevent endorsement suggestions from displaying on profiles you view or on your own profile when other people view it. However, in order to completely opt-out of endorsements, you have to select an option that hides all of your endorsements already received. That could leave an obvious hole in your profile, and you might not want to do it, but it’s something to consider.

By the way, the Help Center instructions suggest unclicking the two items about endorsement suggestions on profiles viewed (which will supposedly prevent those suggestions from appearing). However, I already had those unclicked on my LinkedIn profile and I still get those suggestions, so I think their “system” for that procedure is flawed.

Who Cares about LinkedIn Endorsements?

Besides LinkedIn, that is. Employers/recruiters might. One thing I’ve read is that LinkedIn designed the feature primarily so recruiters could search for candidates with specific skills because they want to increase revenue from recruiters (or their companies). I don’t know if this is a fact or not, but I suppose it’s a possibility.

I haven’t seen much, if anything, from employers on this subject so far, and it might be that they appreciate the endorsements feature more than job seekers do. I wonder, though, how happy they would be if they had reliable data on just how inaccurate the lists on members’ profiles can be.

For example, my list used to include “career counseling”–I didn’t put it there. Other people endorsed me for it, despite the fact that although I do provide career coaching, I don’t do career counseling (which requires a counseling degree). If someone were looking to hire me for career counseling, they’d be disappointed. (I removed that item from my list, with the associated endorsements.)

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