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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 post 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.

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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!

This post originally appeared on The Denovati SMART Blog.

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3 Comments

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Excellent analysis and advice, Courtney. Thanks for sharing.

I agree with your points. It’s great that LinkedIn is finding new ways to increase member engagement. However, the endorsement feature should be more user-friendly and less force fed.

Profile Photo Julie Chase

I would like it if every vendor and ladder climbing public and private employee would stop emailing me requests to view their profile on LinkedIn. My work email is bombarded.

Profile Photo Courtney Shelton Hunt

Thanks for the positive feedback, David. I can always count on you for that!

Julie, have you checked your settings? That should be something you can control. I’ve been on LI since 2004 and am a very active user, and I NEVER get messages like that…