It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Three years ago, LinkedIn desperately needed to give users a reason to come back more often than when their resumes needed to be updated. It lacked the kind of lightweight, fast social interactions which make personal networks like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr so addictive. Endorsements were rolled out as a “Recommendations Lite” feature. Don’t have time to write a thoughtful recommendation for your peers? No problem. Just click a button next to a skill to say “Yeah, she’s good at that.”
Unfortunately, the cardinal rule of the internet is “if it can be spammed, it will be spammed.” With no mechanism to ensure users only endorsed skills they could actually verify, users quickly abused Endorsements to the point of irrelevance. Recruiters for the most part consider Endorsements “silly and meaningless”. Using Endorsements as an engagement tool is a little tacky, as the request for reciprocity is implied even when it’s not explicitly stated.
So should you just ignore Endorsements? Maybe, maybe not…
Why do Endorsements Even Exist?
There’s evidence that they may boost your profile in LinkedIn’s algorithm when users are searching for someone with those skills. So even if recruiters ignore them once they reach your profile, they might make it a little more likely they’ll find it in the first place.
Endorsements give LinkedIn scalable skills data about their users. Even if the quality of that data is crap, they’re not going to give that up. At least, not until they have something better.
It’s important to bear in mind that just like the keywords tag and search engines, eventually the sheer volume of spam Endorsements will outweigh any algorithmic value they might have. In fact, it’s possible LinkedIn is already devaluing Endorsements from connections you’ve never worked with.
Even with these problems, Endorsements won’t likely be going away anytime soon. So you might want a plan for managing them. Or a rationale for opting-out of them.
Escaping the Clutter
Since January, you can edit and manage Endorsements on your profile. One possibility is to opt-out of them completely. If you’re not quite ready for that, you can at least opt out of getting annoying prompts and emails related to Endorsements, making them a little more bearable. You can also move the Endorsement section further down your profile page, below the more relevant information.
If you’re not going to opt-out, you’ll be relieved to know you can now remove and reorder Endorsements on your profile. This is a good way to eliminate duplicate skills, as well as skills you don’t have, or don’t want to emphasize. Congrats! Here’s your opportunity to ditch that endorsement for “Fax Machine Repair” your smartass former coworker gave you.
Taking a little time to curate endorcements can elevate them above pure visual clutter.
Endorsements may be the equivalent of those “Senior Superlatives” we all remember from high school — a popularity contest, not an accurate assessment of your real strengths. But as opposed to ignoring them, being intentional about whether and how you’ll use them, and taking a little time to curate can elevate them above pure visual clutter.
A little mindfulness can improve almost anything, even meaningless professional compliments from near-strangers.