There has been a lot of talk about LinkedIn Skill Endorsements, their value, and whether and how to use them. For one little feature, there is so much we can cover about it. In this post I’ll just focus on a few tips for using it well when endorsing others.
For those of you who’ve told me you don’t use LinkedIn very much (yet), an endorsement is when one of your connections indicates you have a skill or area of expertise, by selecting an “endorse” button or icon on LinkedIn.
You may be prompted to endorse someone’s areas of expertise in two ways:
1) When you visit your connection’s profile (and sometimes when you log on to LinkedIn), you will likely get an LI prompt -- at the top of the page -- to endorse a list of their skills or expertise.
*Note that if you click Endorse in the above example, you will automatically endorse all the skills listed...whether you want to or not! (Unless you click the x by the skills you wish to remove first, before selecting Endorse.) Also, this list is generated by LinkedIn and often contains keywords/skills that aren't even chosen by -- and may not be applicable to -- the person.
2) When a connection endorses you for a skill, you may be asked (by LinkedIn) if you want to reciprocate by endorsing their skill(s).
Either way, please, please, please do not endorse your connection directly from the LinkedIn prompt (as my friend and colleague, Paula Brand, and I say:"Stay away from the blue box!").
A good practice is to go to your connection's profile, scroll down to the Skills & Expertise section and see which ones they have chosen to include there (see the screenshot below). Next, look for ones you know enough about to be able to endorse. Remember, you are vouching for the skill you endorse (i.e., putting your reputation on the line). Only select skills and expertise you know they have. If you have no idea whether your connection has expertise in public relations, don't choose that as the one to endorse!
Your contacts have put time and thought into carefully selecting the right skills and keywords for their profiles. Endorsing a random list generated by LinkedIn (or suggesting your own) rather than the ones they've chosen ignores their efforts and can potentially weaken the profile.
Also, let's say LinkedIn prompts you to endorse a skill (e.g., "New Business Development") for your contact, Sue. She already has that skill listed on her profile, but with different wording ("Business Development"). If you endorse the skill suggested by LinkedIn rather than first checking her list, and Sue displays your endorsement, she will have two keywords that mean essentially the same thing. Now if 15 people want to endorse her for this skill, she could end up with 12 endorsements for one and three for the other version of it, rather than having all 15 show in one place. A viewer quickly scanning Sue's profile may then only see the listing that has few endorsements...
The lesson? Stay away from the blue box (and endorse from the profile)!
One more tip: You don't have to wait to be prompted to endorse someone's skills and expertise. Why not make it a point to visit your connections' profiles and look for skills that you can actually vouch for, then endorse one or two of the ones you know to be their strengths?
Shahrzad is a holistic career counselor, trainer, speaker, and author of Nourish Your Career. If you'd like to work with her to nourish your career and life, contact her at shahrzad[at]careerconsultmd.com or visit www.careerconsultmd.com