LinkedIn Endorsements: What You Can and Can’t Manage

LinkedIn Endorsements: What You Can and Can't Manage

The LinkedIn Endorsements feature has become very popular, even though it has not been universally well received. No matter what you may think of them, it appears they may become a permanent feature of LinkedIn profiles. This article addresses some of the logistical challenges of managing endorsements by providing an overview of which aspects can and can’t be managed. It concludes with a request for LinkedIn to give users even greater control over them.

 

LinkedIn Endorsements were launched in the fall of 2012, and according to LinkedIn, they have been a big hit (see, for example, this infographic celebrating 1 billion endorsements in under six months). They are not, however, universally loved. Common complaints and criticisms include:

  • Users can’t opt out of the feature, which means they can’t control whether and when they receive endorsements (or for what skills)
  • Endorsements require virtually no effort to give and are therefore shallow commendations at best
  • People endorse others for skills they have no awareness of or knowledge about
  • People get endorsed for skills they have never claimed to have
  • Some of the skills people can get endorsed for are questionable (e.g., making coffee, sarcasm)
  • It’s too tempting to game the feature by offering (and expecting) quid pro quo endorsements
  • Users are constantly asked to endorse the skills of others when they view their profiles – and as soon as they endorse one, they’re immediately prompted to endorse others!

Managing LinkedIn Endorsements: The Good News

Given their apparent popularity, it’s unlikely that LinkedIn Endorsements will be going away any time soon. The best you can do is try to manage them as as part of the Skills & Expertise section of your profile by:

  • Identifying at least 10 skills you think best reflect your unique value proposition (note: you can also manage their order, but only before you start receiving endorsements)
  • Determining where in your profile to locate the Skills & Expertise section
  • Choosing whether to display endorsements on your profile at all (but note that you cannot opt out of receiving them )
  • Adding new and removing existing skills (which also removes endorsements)
  • Accepting (or rejecting) new endorsements for specific skills when they appear on your profile
  • Managing endorsements for specific skills, which enables you to not display any endorsers for a skill or to select/deselect specific endorsers

Editing your profile to make these changes is generally pretty straight forward, but if you need guidance you can visit the Skills and Skill Endorsements sections of the the LinkedIn Help Center.

Managing LinkedIn Endorsements: The Bad News

It’s great that LinkedIn offers users so many granular controls for managing various aspects of the Skills & Expertise section of their profiles, including endorsements. Unfortunately, however, there are still several aspects you can’t manage. For example, once you start receiving endorsements your skills are listed from most to least endorsed, which may not reflect how you wish to list them. In addition, although you can deselect endorsers for specific skills, you can’t change the order in which they appear: the newest endorsers are always displayed from left to right as the first ten endorsers for a given skill.

In my view, however,the biggest limitation of LinkedIn Endorsements is that there’s no good way to manage what LinkedIn refers to as “duplicate skills.” This may not currently be a problem for most users, but over time it will become more manifest and create challenges for virtually everyone for the following reasons:

  1. There are many similar skills in the LinkedIn skills database
  2. LinkedIn suggests skills for endorsement that aren’t included on an individual’s profile
  3. Users are allowed to add skills for which they want to endorse another person
  4. There are no front-end controls to check the endorsed skills and suggest alternatives based on what’s already listed in the profile

What this means is that everyone’s skills will keep expanding as they receive more endorsements – and they have virtually no ability to stop it. I’ve been challenged by the “duplicate skills” limitation for a while, and it’s become a “skill glut” problem that seems to get worse every day. I’m very grateful to have received unsolicited LinkedIn Endorsements from many of my connections, but they have become unwieldy. To date I have been endorsed for over 50 skills, and I keep receiving new ones. Obviously, the breadth of my expertise is not that great!!!

Now I’m “stuck” with a mishmash of related skills with different endorsers, and I have to start making hard choices about what skills to include and what to exclude to stay within LinkedIn’s 50-skill limit. More importantly, I’m not able to present my skills in the best possible light.

Managing LinkedIn Endorsements: A Request

As users, we have control over every other aspect of our LinkedIn profiles, so it stands to reason we should have the ability to fully manage our skills and endorsements. In particular, we should be able to combine similar skills and assign an overall label to them that we think best represents the skill set.

My top-ten endorsed skills, for example, include both Social Media and Social Networking, Organizational Development and Organizational Effectiveness, and Strategy and Strategic Planning. If I could consolidate my “duplicate skills,” then other relevant skills – like those related to Thought Leadership, Human Capital Management, and Community Management – could also appear in my top ten.

Consolidation would also offer a better endorsement metric by eliminating duplicate endorsements. In my case, for example, instead of having 89+ endorsements for Social Media and 38+ endorsements for Social Networking, it’s probably more accurate to convey that I have 103+ endorsements (or whatever the number might be) for Social Technologies.

Finally, consolidation would also enable people to help viewers of their profiles “connect the dots” as it were. For instance, if I could combine Higher Education, Curriculum Development, Adult Education, Training, Employee Training, and Training & Development, that would be a signal that all of those skills are related and complementary. I could do something similar for Business Development, Digital Strategy, Content Strategy, Marketing, CRM, Digital Branding. Obviously, those combinations are unique to my career experiences. Each user would determine which combination makes the most sense for them.

Managing LinkedIn Endorsements: Your Thoughts?

Would you like the ability to consolidate your skills and endorsements? What other improvements would you like to see to the LinkedIn Endorsements feature? How about other features connected to your LinkedIn profile? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

25 thoughts on “LinkedIn Endorsements: What You Can and Can’t Manage

  1. Good article, Courtney. I’ve also written about managing Endorsements (http://bit.ly/15qY1al)
    and, combined, you and I pretty much cover the gamut! I’ve discovered how deeply tied to page rank Endorsements are, and so I am slowly removing the larger categories in order to move my ‘real’ skills to my top 10. It’s tedious and requires requesting re-endorsements. Not all members have responded favorably to my request, but most understand what I’m trying to do. Many members don’t get it and don’t care to…a bit too much detail for those who don’t fully grasp or make use of the page rank features anyway.

    To each his own:)

    • Thanks for your comment, Victoria, and especially for the page rank information. Your explanation of how you manage this challenge definitely reinforces my point that LI needs to give users a better way. Good luck getting it all cleaned up!

  2. David M. Patt, CAE

    Consolidation would be very good, if for no other reason than to eliminate duplicate skills. I’ve been endorsed for “nonprofits” and for “non-profits.” Having both of those on the list looks silly, but I think it reflects more poorly on LinkedIn than it does on me.

    • Courtney and David have pointed out the advantages of consolidation. A disadvantage would be that some recruiters might search on one version of a duplicate skill while other recruiters might search on another version of the skill.

      • I would hope the LI search engine would be smart enough to look for like terms. I just did a quick search using the term “strategy,” and in addition to the individual profile results LI produced a related searches box that included the following clickable terms:

        strategy consultant, management consulting, business development, corporate development, strategic planning, venture capital, pricing

        My search on “nonprofit” also resulted in a set of related searches, but my search on “non-profit” did not (even though roughly twice as many people use that spelling in their profiles). So it looks like LI still has some work to do in this area too…

  3. Great post! I’ve been meaning to write one myself along the lines of the criticisms you’ve listed up top. I probably still will but will now link to this post and your ideas around duplicate skills and consolidation.I haven’t identified that as an issue yet but I’ll probably start to see it now. While more controls might help, I’d prefer if endorsements disappeared.

  4. I totally agree with the points made in this article. The automated demand to click on endorsements has reached spam proportions and invalidates intentional endorsements. I no longer ascribe meaning to the endorsement section of a person’s profile and focus instead on the recommendations. Am I alone in that?

    • I am not as quick to dismiss endorsements as you are, Cheryl. I agree that some people tend to endorse others somewhat thoughtlessly, so it’s up to the endorsee to make sure their skills and related endorsements are an accurate representation of their unique value. Unfortunately, one of the realities of our time-compressed lives is that many people don’t have time to write recommendations. Endorsements may be a poor substitute in some respects, but they can be viewed as better than nothing…

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. “Editing your profile to make these changes is generally pretty straight forward” … no it’s not straightforward — it’s a freakin’ mystery — and the Linkedin links you posted are not helpful. If you’re going to post suggestions about what to do, it would be really nice if you posted HOW to do it… How do you control the list of endorsements… I left this post with the same questions I had when I clicked on it…

    • I’m sorry this post frustrated you. As indicated by the title, description, and text, my intent was never to offer how-to guidance; it was more of an assessment. I’m glad, however, that you were able to find a post that offered a step-by-step guide to accomplishing the changes you wanted to make. I’m sure other readers will appreciate it as well.

  6. Click “Profile/Edit Profile” on LinkedIn’s main drop down menu.

    Scroll down to “Skills and Expertise” and click on the little blue pencil on the right-hand side of the page.

    Select “Add and Remove.” LinkedIn lets you display ten items in an attractive vertical display. Beyond ten, it goes to a cluttered horizontal display. Shudder. Limit yourself to no more than ten skills.

    Now click “Manage Endorsements.” Review who has endorsed you for each skill and uncheck people who don’t know enough about you to know whether or not you have that skill.

    Click “Save” to keep your changes.

    Scroll back up to the top of your profile and click “Done Editing” to make your changes public.

    As you receive additional endorsements, only accept them if they match your list in Item 3 above and if they’re from credible endorsers.
    http://www.avidcareerist.com/2013/03/09/7-steps-to-make-your-linkedin-endorsements-believable/

  7. I want to be able to affect the order of my endorsers – so that my plumber (great guy) isn’t first on my “Hedge Funds” Skill; I would prefer to have the endorsement of hedge fund professionals before any others.

    • I get it, Adam, and think that’s a great request. I believe the order is automatic, however, with the most recent endorsers displayed on the left side of the 10 or so that show up on you profile. To my knowledge you can’t change that order.

  8. My thought is …. it’s 2016 and per LInkedIn official help page we still cannot merge terms. I’m just moving the old terms to the bottom but not deleting them.. i hang onto everything… and I submitted a note that it was time to give us an option even if only for upgraded accounts. thx for giving me a post from the past to point to.


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