LinkedIn Endorsements: Helping or Hurting?

Hate them or not, LinkedIn endorsements are here to stay.

Dismissed by many as something as easy to do as a Facebook “like,” many career industry experts and recruiters saw this new feature as pure fluff that made trading endorsements akin to “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

But social media experts have a different angle.  Thought leader and founder Sean McGinnis  had this to say about it in a recent Facebook post:

“I realize there’s a lot of controversy and skepticism around the LinkedIn Endorsements feature. I think critics who dismiss it out of hand are doing it a disservice. There is one thing Endorsements is good for – better understanding the way your connections view you. “

In simpler terms: If the skills that you are being endorsed for aren’t what you specialize in, then you have a problem.

It means you haven’t defined your brand enough so that your contacts know what you actually DO.


There’s a cascade effect when you get non-relevant LinkedIn endorsements.

One, many employers, hiring managers, recruiters, and head hunters are trolling LinkedIn for potential hires, and the skills listed in your profile act like “Google Juice” in terms of returning results that include the highest-ranked skills in those particular areas.

So let’s say I am a recruiter and working on the back-end side of LinkedIn, looking for a hotel sales manager based on those associated skill sets.

When I run the search, the people who have the highest number of endorsements for those skill areas are included in results.

That’s how you get OPTIMIZED.

But secondly, another downside to getting endorsements for areas that aren’t specific to your area of expertise is that it can take you out of the running for the area you really want to be in, and put you somewhere else.

In short, you can end up in no-man’s land.

And that does nothing to get you into the right universe where you will be found.

But even more so, it also means your brand is not strong enough to clearly define what it is that you do.

The next step is clear:  You have your work cut out for you in shifting that perception within your network.

How are you going to do that?

There are plenty of blogs out there that provide step-by-step instructions on how to position oneself online, but some ideas include writing blogs or sharing posts that topical to your desired expertise area, posting comments in the same vein, asking select contacts within your network to write a recommendation or endorse the skills you want highlighted.

Another option is that you can actually delete non-relevant skills… because sometimes, LinkedIn makes suggestions for people on the site. If you remove the non-relevant ones, then LinkedIn might recommend only the ones that are showing.

Another thing you can do is strategically select people on LinkedIn to connect with so you can engage them in your target subject areas. Or you can join industry/subject area LinkedIn groups to also fuel discussions and comments that can further solidify your position in that particular field or area.

Passively reacting to a growing (and worrisome) number of LinkedIn endorsements that are not relevant to your career isn’t an option.

You need to step it up and start a redirect immediately so you don’t lose any momentum in your career – because you never know what opportunities might be missed otherwise.