LinkedIn Endorsements vs Recommendations

There has been a lot of activity on LinkedIn recently with the introduction of their brand new feature, endorsements. It’s the logical extension of a profile that now lists the skills that people have. But what exactly are skills (as understood by LinkedIn), and what are the endorsements that go with them? And how do they compare with Recommendations?

On my profile, if you scroll down the page a little, you’ll see a section that looks like this:

These are skills I have listed myself which are those I believe I have. You may or may not agree with me :-). To add a skill to your profile, you simply scroll to the section of your profile while it’s in edit mode and click the Add a Skill link you will find top right.

An ENDORSEMENT is an acknowledgement by someone in your network that you do indeed have the skill you say you do, if you think it’s a bit like Facebook ‘Like’s you probably won’t be far wrong. In the image above, you’ll see that there is a number next to each of the skills, this is the number of people that have endorsed you for that skill. When you start to get a few endorsements you’ll see something like the following as well:

What you see above is a selection of the people of the people who have actually clicked on that ‘Endorse’ link. As you hover over their image, a little V-card pops up with their details. It’s a way of visually verifying the people who have given you this acknowledgement. You cannot endorse yourself!

A RECOMMENDATION on the other hand is something altogether more formal; it’s a written testimonial given to you by someone in your network. Rather like “Linda is a very lovely person and I think she’s great because ….. (fill in the blanks if you want to)“. Some time ago I wrote about the giving and receiving of recommendations, so I won’t repeat myself here.

So, what’s the difference between them?

  1. An endorsement is given for skills that I say I have
  2. A testimonial is a compliment given by someone else who tells the world what skills and abilities they think you have
  3. Giving an endorsement is quick and simple, you just click the button to say that you agree that this person has the skill they have indicated
  4. Giving a testimonial requires the person to write something, which is harder and demonstrates more of a commitment to the recipient.

The problem with both of these features though is that of reciprocity, too often even these days’ I see people recommending someone because they have received a recommendation from them.

The same is happening with endorsements, and it’s very easy to get click happy as every time you go to your profile LinkedIn asks you to ‘endorse people’. In fact when I decided to try this out to see what happened I was surprised at the number of my connections who all listed ‘social media’ as a skill – and in many cases it’s not a skill I’ve seen in evidence amongst those claiming it.

I think I would define a skill in this sense as something that I use in my work on behalf of my clients or customers, and not just something I happen to do.

I’m not sure yet, whether the endorsements feature is just the ‘LinkedIn eye-candy that some suggest it is’ or whether it is of genuine value. However I will continue to use it in the same way that I use the recommendations feature; I will only click the endorse button for skills amongst my connections that I have personally witnessed, experienced, used or been benefited by; where I can, hand on heart say, ‘this person definitely has this skill’.

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  1. Hi Linda, I don’t put much weight on the ‘endorsements’ because i have received far too many from members who I know have not witnessed the particular skill they’ve endorsed for me. I do value my recommendations highly. I don’t click or recommend others without discrepancy.But in the end, I don’t think it matters much what any one individual or smaller groups of individuals say or do in this situation. As long as LI makes it click easy, it will be more and more like “Likes” until it’s meaningless except as a reciprocity gauge.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your ethic of only endorsing a skill you have experienced with that person. Something I discovered is that someone can endorse you for a skill they think you have that is not listed on your profile. So it is not just a case of identifying your own skills – others can add to the list too. However, you can remove that skill and endorsement if you do not feel it is appropriate.

  3. I hope you don’t mind but I have added a link to your post to a discussion that is taking place on the BusinessXchange Members LinkedIn Group. Laura