Endorsements and Recommendations on LinkedIn

I am a fairly active networker, and use LinkedIn as a platform with which to keep track of my resume and coworkers past and present. In conjunction with this blog, it has landed me at least one job, and it’s a great tool.
LinkedIn has two seemingly similar features that I feel do two very different things: Endorsements and Recommendations:

  • Endorsements
    • Endorsements are easy, and low-threshold. You simply click a button to say you endorse someone as having a skill (three examples for which I have been endorsed are Active Directory, Technical Support and Windows 7), and you’re done. You don’t need to explain or justify it, you don’t even need to know whether the person you endorse has the skill at all. As such, I think the value of endorsements are very limited, particularly when only one person endorses a particular skill. A good analogy is someone randomly standing up at a mixer, and saying “Joe Q. Public is an amazing public speaker”. It’s not worth much, and noone knows whether they are right. Of course, if ten other people stand up and agree, then that is a different matter altogether.
  • Recommendations
    • Recommendations are harder. In order to recommend someone, you need to actually write a recommendation, as well as define the basis for the recommendation. If an endorsement is someone getting up and more or less randomly saying you have a skill, a recommendation is much like a letter of recommendation written by an employer, customer or coworker, just visible to all. Now, the strength of any recommendation is based on the role the recommender had with you, but I would say that a single recommendation is always worth more than any number of single endorsements.

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