In September 2012 LinkedIn introduced the clever and strategic feature of allowing users to give "kudos" to their professional connections with just one click. Only six months later the number of endorsements that have been issued on the social network has well surpassed its expectations with more than one billion endorsements to date.
According to an infographic by Peter Rusev, Associate Product Manager at LinkedIn, more than 18 million professionals have been recognized for their aptitudes. This significant volume could be attributed to LinkedIn's innovative marketing technique that encourages users to endorse others. When a user is searching through her professional network the first thing that she sees on the top of a connection’s profile is a box with suggestions reading, “Does ____ have these skills or expertise?” This online reference check for talent ranges from skills such as “Enterprise Staffing Software” to “Chemical Process Engineering.”
Since it is such an easy and simplistic way to acknowledge the abilities of your LinkedIn connections, it raises concern. Is the value of this compliment weakened due to the possible lack of thought and consideration when making an endoresment?
In her article published for BusinessInsider.com, René Shimada Siegel, Founder and President of High Tech Connect, predicts that despite the popularity of LinkedIn endorsements today, they will be extinct by 2014.
“Today, I received LinkedIn endorsements of my skills from five people I’ve never met. There’s no way these people have any context for my ability to deliver the skills and expertise they endorsed. Don’t get me wrong. LinkedIn is still an invaluable tool for my business and I’ve written about it before. But I’m worried about these endorsements which feel an awful lot like a popularity contest.”
Siegel goes on to add that, “Since endorsements involve a single mouse-click, I can endorse 60 people in 10 minutes and not break a sweat. Click, click. Then the network marketing effect takes hold. The person you just endorsed will receive an email that you’ve done so and suggesting that, perhaps, he or she would want to return the favor. Why not? Above your profile LinkedIn lists a few of your connections and their many skills and specialties. And off you go: Click, click, click. “Look at me, being nice…..” I’ll go so far as to make this prediction: By the end of this calendar year, LinkedIn will drop endorsements from its site and everyone will realize all those little blue rectangles filled with words like “Cloud Computing,” “Writing,” “Product Marketing,” etc. are worth as much as the effort it took to award them to somebody: Nothing."
In response to a LinkedIn forum started by Matthew Weaver about the value that endorsements offer, Geoff Gunner discusses the effects that the phrased testimonials have upon the staffing industry.
“As an employer, I don't think that I'd want to hear an opinion on someone's abilities that hadn't been carefully thought out. What would be the point? I could end up hiring someone that could cause serious damage to my project, just because they had lots of friends who endorsed them. And so, as the feature stands, it's really just eye-candy for LinkedIn, perhaps catching the attention of an employer but quickly fading away under detailed scrutiny. For me, I'll only endorse the skills that I know a person possesses. To do anything else would be unprofessional, and LinkedIn is for professionals, yes?”
But as Geoff explains, if he takes the “professional” stance of only endorsing those he personally knows possess a skill, while others continue to endorse those they are simply casually acquainted with (or do not know at all), what’s the point? As a recruiter, you cannot tell the difference, and therefore, endorsements are meaningless. Maybe LinkedIn should tweak the model so that only those people that have provided a written recommendation on a person’s LinkedIn profile can endorse a skill. Yes, an argument can be made that recommendations can be misused as well, but at least there is thought that goes into writing a recommendation for an individual, and there is level of self-policing involved with recommendations that give them more legitimacy.
What do you think? Do you believe that the value of a "kudos" on a connection's profile has diminished?
Let us know in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you!
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