Recently a former coworker of mine sent out an email to her LinkedIn network pleading with us to leave her a thoughtful recommendation instead of just endorsing her for skills. Unfortunately, I never worked directly with her at the job (albeit part of the same department) and never really interacted with her much overall, so I didn’t really know what I could write for a recommendation. But she did revive my thought that the endorsements on LinkedIn are in fact total and complete bullshit.
Why do I feel this way about them? Because people I barely know are always endorsing me for skills that they can’t vouch for or I simply don’t have. LinkedIn’s model of asking you to blindly endorse a list of 4 people at a time makes this really easy and at the end of the day people want to feel like they are helping out, especially when it’s easy for them. Leaving endorsements gives folks the opportunity to say “well I helped someone out today by endorsing them, I’m a good person and good things will happen to me because of it.” Well maybe not verbatim, but you get the idea.
One of my most recent endorsements has been for the PHP framework Drupal, at least I think it’s a framework, maybe it’s a CMS? Turns out, I’m not entirely clear on what Drupal is because I admittedly know little about it. I’ve not only never installed it but I’ve never even looked at the code or had the opportunity to have to work with a site already built in Drupal. Granted, I’m confident that I could handle any job thrown at me with Drupal (it is PHP afterall) but the fact remains that I have no working experience with it. Actually I lied, I also know they are on or at one point had a version 7 because my buddy Tom Stovall wrote the book Drupal 7 Mobile Web Development Beginner’s Guide.
But Josh, LinkedIn gave you the option to not include the new endorsement on your profile, you don’t have to accept it you know. Turns out I haven’t accepted it, even though 3 of my friendlies have endorsed me. The reason to not include it only has to do with the fact that I already have too many skills on LinkedIn, the max is 50. The last few years of adding random skills that people have endorsed me for have maxed me out. Crap like DHTML which I honestly didn’t even think was a buzzword anymore. In fact, my most endorsed skill is Apache which I 100% abandoned over a year ago and now only use nginx. If I had to guess, Apache is better known than nginx, so I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s highly endorsed even though I could argue that my ability to scale nginx is far greater than Apache.
So is there any way to fix this dilemma? I personally don’t think so. LinkedIn makes it too easy to both accept and receive new skills and we live in a society that is full of people that would prefer to over promise and under deliver their skills to potential employers. Fortunately, I’d like to think that the apt recruiters out there don’t do much with the LinkedIn skills list because it can easily be filled with nonsense (granted so can the rest of the profile ;). A good recruiter would look at the person’s previous experience and grade the potential applicant from there. If nothing else, if they were to use the skills list, they should hold the people doing the endorsing accountable and reach out to them to further vouch for the person. I’d definitely get a good chuckle the day I receive an email asking me about some blind endorsement I’ve done on LinkedIn (yes, I’m just as guilty as the rest of you).