LinkedIn Endorsements: Do They Still Have Any Value? Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Leveraging, and Maximizing Them

LinkedIn Endorsements: Do They Still Have Any Value? Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Leveraging, and Maximizing Them

These days, LinkedIn is much more than a job-seeking and recruiting site. Instead, it has matured into a multipurpose professional networking forum. Especially considering that change, it’s important that we distinguish ourselves and our personal brand on the network. Part of many people’s strategies involves LinkedIn endorsements. LinkedIn made quite a splash when they introduced them way back in 2012. In their words, endorsements allow you an opportunity to easily “give kudos with just one click.” 

Like many other things on social media, LinkedIn endorsements caught on quickly. Way back in 2016 LinkedIn announced that there were already 5 billion endorsements made. Now, of course, there are many more than before.

And they’re effective at getting your profile views. According to LinkedIn, people who list at least five skills (which are the core of endorsements) receive up to 17x more profile views. Statistically, this hints that at a minimum, getting endorsements for your skills might affect your ranking in LinkedIn profile searches.  But even if it doesn’t it’s easy to see that LinkedIn endorsements are a valuable way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Let’s look at these valuable self-promotion tools further.

What are LinkedIn Endorsements?

what are linkedin endorsements

Simply put, endorsements on LinkedIn are defined as your connections going to your profile and adding a “+1” for a skill that is listed there. That is why LinkedIn now refers to them as Skill Endorsements.  Although most people won’t reach this limit, each LinkedIn member can have up to 50 endorsements.

No matter what skill you seek endorsements for, though, the people who grant an endorsement are saying that you’re good at something. These should typically be skills that closely relate to jobs that you have or want. However, some endorsement skills might help a potential recruiter or other professional connect to you. For instance, if you’re good at teaching children how to do something, LinkedIn endorsements for this skill might help you connect to volunteer opportunities you’d enjoy.

Do Endorsements Matter on LinkedIn?

In a word, LinkedIn endorsements can be very important. LinkedIn themselves hint that they increase the likelihood that you’ll be discovered for opportunities related to the skills you possess. But above and beyond the potential increased visibility you get in search results both in LinkedIn as well as when employers look for candidates with certain skills, there are other benefits to having these endorsements. Like other social networks, LinkedIn is a good place to network and connect to people, even on a different level.

Endorsements are a great way to showcase your abilities to other members

No matter what you’re good at, it’s always great to show people your abilities. For job hunters, recommendations are often useful for clinching the deal. Online, LinkedIn recommendations are a great tool to catch the attention of a recruiter. However, these tend to come from people who have worked with you or served as a mentor. LinkedIn endorsements can come from a wider range of people, including casual acquaintances or someone who heard you speak at a conference.

LinkedIn recommendations help build your targeted personal branding

Most of us are used to the interview question “so tell me about yourself.” This isn’t surprising, for two reasons. First, the question lets a job candidate speak freely about what they care about. Most people will talk about their professional attributes but attempting to build rapport with a recruiter also is effective. For instance, I might talk about my interest in Japanese food and culture, especially if I was applying to a Japanese company.

At the same time, the introductory question lets recruiters look farther into someone’s personality and interests than they could with a resume or CV. These documents mostly mention a candidate’s work experience and job history, without discussing hobbies. Because of this, recruiters only get a small window into a candidate when reviewing an application. Interview questions let the recruiter see if a qualified candidate is a good “fit.”

Where does this connect with LinkedIn endorsements? Simply put, they allow professionals to build and showcase their personal brands. With endorsements, recruiters and others can see who you have worked with and what they think your top skills are. In many cases, these secondary talents can help complete a picture that places you in the best opportunities, whether it’s getting a job, closing a sale, or even making a connection. Branding yourself is one of the most important LinkedIn best practices!

LinkedIn endorsements prove your expertise and back up your claims 

This one goes along with personal branding. As professionals, there’s a lot of temptation to puff ourselves up and make it look like we’ve accomplished more than we have. On the other side of the coin, some people have trouble expressing what makes them special and how accomplished they are. In both cases, other professionals don’t get a reliable view of what that person is capable of.

LinkedIn endorsements help with this problem on two fronts. First, the endorsements help professionals prove that they’re every bit as accomplished as their professional LinkedIn profile says they are. In this way, you can look like a real person and someone that another professional should want to know or do business with. Second, people who don’t present themselves well can get help from their fellow professionals. And on a similar note, they might find that people think highly of them in ways they didn’t originally consider.

There are ways to boost the value of LinkedIn endorsements

It’s important to note that you can increase the relevance of LinkedIn endorsements in certain circumstances. In particular, the above benefits are especially important if you can get to the maximum of 99 endorsements for a given skill. That means that if 99 people can say you are good at something, then this is the highest level of social proof available on that particular skill. It also means that you have a relatively wide support base.

With that said, there’s more than one way to get LinkedIn endorsements. While Endorsements haven’t changed over time, LinkedIn more recently announced a new skills assessment feature that allows you to verify your skill by taking an online quiz. If you pass in the 70th percentile or above you will get a skills badge to display on your profile. 

This is a great way to go in a few situations. For instance, if you haven’t built up your network yet, assessments are a good way to document your skills. In addition, it’s highly effective in very competitive or technical occupations. Finally, check out this option if you’re looking to switch careers then showing what you know can go a long way. Of course, anyone can use this tool in combination with LinkedIn endorsements from other professionals.

How Do I Add an Endorsement on LinkedIn?

How Do I Add an Endorsement on LinkedIn?

Unsurprisingly, you can’t give yourself a LinkedIn endorsement. If you could, it would defeat many of the purposes for having endorsements in the first place, such as social proof. Of course, you do have two options: ask someone else to give you an endorsement (I’ll discuss that below) or take the skills assessments.

With that said, adding a LinkedIn endorsement to someone else’s profile is easy. You can endorse others simply by going to their profile and scrolling down to their Skills & Endorsements section. Then all you need to do is to click the “+” that is at the left for each skill you want to endorse them for. Click confirm, and you’re done. Just be sure that you pick things that you know about personally, such as by working or studying with that person.

Who Can Endorse You on LinkedIn?

Similar to LinkedIn recommendations you must be a first-degree connection in order to endorse someone on LinkedIn. These are the people who have added you as a connection or vice versa. One reason for this is that LinkedIn wants to ensure that people who endorse one another are familiar with that person’s work. While this is an imperfect assumption, it does help preserve the credibility of LinkedIn endorsements.

How Do I Ask for or Get LinkedIn Endorsements?

Simple: ask your connections. Here’s a case study of someone who contacted his 300 connections and went from 28 to 302 total endorsements. This person employed a varied tactic of adding new people as connections before asking them and hitting up existing connections for an endorsement. Of course, since an endorsement doesn’t take much effort, it’s a relatively small ask.

Want another approach to collecting LinkedIn endorsements? You can also endorse your connections, some of whom may pay you back the favor. This approach works especially well when you have a more extensive relationship with those people. However, either way, you go, it’s a great way to keep in touch by showing up in their notifications. You never know when this will open up opportunities.

What is the Difference between LinkedIn Endorsements and a Recommendation?

Endorsements are merely people who recognize you for a skill by going to your profile and adding an endorsement. They require very little effort besides thinking about someone and wanting to do them a favor. And yet, they’re highly effective as branding tools for that person.

Recommendations are completely different as they have their own dedicated section. In addition, they require your connection to talk about you more deeply and naturally over the course of one or a few sentences. For this reason, recommendations are usually written by someone that knows you a bit better. A recommender might be a former boss, coworker, classmate or professor, for example.

Generally speaking, if someone is going to vet your profile, the recommendations will always carry more weight because someone is putting their reputation on the line when they recommend. This contrasts with simply clicking on a skill endorsement which might not even be seen by others unless they click through to see all people who have endorsed that person. In addition, recommendations have a greater level of genuineness because they can’t be as easily granted in bulk.

How to Get the Right Skill Endorsements

LinkedIn itself helps us here. In a nutshell, the most important thing is that before you ask others for endorsements or begin to endorse others that you 1) choose the right 50 skills and 2) reorder your skills so that your most strategic ones are at the top of the list. Strategic skills should reflect your overall goals and branding. Want help picking skills? Just think about who you are professionally, and where you want to go. Then, decide which skills match with corresponding keywords.

How to Manage your LinkedIn endorsements

How to Manage your LinkedIn endorsements

You can choose to decide which endorsements to display through the above screen simply by:

  1. Clicking on your profile photo from the homepage to edit your profile
  2. Navigate to the Skills & endorsements section and click the pencil icon at the top righthand corner
  3. Now you can either a) choose the top 3 skills which appear most prominently at the top of the section, b) reorder how your skills are displayed, or c) remove skills simply by clicking on the garbage can icon.

If you need to add a skill, you can do this by simply clicking on the “Add a new skill” text that appears to the left of the pencil icon.

By doing this, you’ll let people see what is most important to you in terms of skills, while also eliminating a lot of irrelevant information. This makes your profile more readable for anyone who wants to present you with opportunities, or even just get to know you.

Rules can be different depending on your profession. For some in the legal field who are concerned about legal ethics, you might want to choose to selectively not display certain endorsements to avoid your profile appearing to be misleading. Opinions on this matter are conflicting, but if someone doesn’t know you then you might be skating on thin ice in some cases.  In addition, it’s important to avoid quid pro quo LinkedIn endorsements. 

How to Turn Off LinkedIn Endorsements

How to Turn Off LinkedIn Endorsements

For some who work in regulated industries like financial services and are worried about endorsements vis a vis compliance, you might want to simply turn them off and opt-out. This is because, at least in the US, most endorsements related to your ability to manage money are banned. If you turn off all LinkedIn endorsements, then you don’t have to worry about filtering out the illegal ones. As an alternative, you could hide prohibited skills, which many experts believe are sufficient for compliance.

Of course, some financial firms and other regulated companies require that all endorsements be turned off. You can accomplish this by following the directions here:

  1. Clicking on your profile photo from the homepage to edit your profile
  2. Navigate to the Skills & endorsements section and click the pencil icon at the top righthand corner
  3. Click on the “Adjust endorsement settings” text in the lower lefthand corner
  4. You will then see what appears in the image above and can simply choose not to be endorsed by toggling OFF the “I want to be endorsed” option

Conclusion: My Advice

With all of that said, what’s the best way for people in most professions to benefit from LinkedIn endorsements? It’s relatively easy if you prioritize your top 50 skills, then go around and genuinely endorse the skills of your connections as a way to keep in touch. Next, you should organically wait a week or two for endorsements to come through. For a lot of people, getting an endorsement is the catalyst needed for them to reciprocate.

After a couple of weeks, if you don’t see enough organic growth begin to message your closest connections letting them know their importance and asking for an endorsement. Many people are happy to help out a friend or colleague this way, but they might not have thought to add an endorsement themselves.

Keep in mind, endorsements don’t appear overnight. However, the goal is to get 99+ in the course of 90 days, so adjust the number of requests you send out every day accordingly. If only one in five of your connections gives an endorsement, then send out 5 or 6 each day, and so on. Before you know it, there should be a nice selection of LinkedIn endorsements on your profile.

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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