LinkedIn Endorsements Are A Joke

hey now, you're an all-star

I should start by saying that I like LinkedIn. I use it every day. It is my rolodex and more. In fact, I’m an All-Star! I want to see LinkedIn continue to grow and help me and many others, which is why I’d like to share that LinkedIn Endorsements are a joke. Like, complete crap.

Are we really too busy to write a recommendation?

Remember the good old days when people wrote recommendations on LinkedIn? You knew someone took the time to think about whether they truly wanted to vouch for the person, and to write something tailored to them. Sure, you knew people picked those who would say the nicest things, but isn’t that what all references are? I know I look at who has written recommendations for job candidates and potential partners, and I often hear that people have read mine. Side note, many of my recommendations are from former employees, were unsolicited, and are a source of pride for me.

Enter These things:

Conan O'Brien on LinkedIn


It’s so easy, and I get to see a teeny little icon of my face!

One click to rule them all
Michael Drejer was endorsed in the creation of this post. Rest assured he is, indeed, a Drupal stud.

In theory it was a neat idea. Less time consuming than the written recommendation, and a nice way to measure thought leadership and expertise. It also has a discovery element, with the potential to send you on a tour through connections the way you might do with Facebook profiles. Yes, LinkedIn recommendations were pretty neat until some Rando Calrissian I met at a conference endorsed me for Product Management. (please open a new tab with: sadtrombone.com)

The bottom line is that these One-Click Endorsements don’t drive authentic engagement or expertise measurement because they weren’t designed for that purpose. They were designed to drive pageviews. To amplify. To give LinkedIn an excuse to email you. It’s game mechanics, just like calling me an All-Star. Put random suggestions at the top of your homepage, and the top of the profiles of those you visit, with to-do list style buttons. And then, alert you when someone endorses you. Bonus: each skill you click generates a search! Genius! Or, utterly hollow.

But the problem is YOUR network!

You might say that I shouldn’t have connected with the random guy from the conference. That’s not the point. Be they conference randoms or someone you worked closely with 15 years ago, most of us have varying degrees of closeness to our connections, most of us will never clean up our network, and we certainly won’t go filter whose endorsements are displayed. It’s like Facebook Lists. Great filtering idea that I used for a day.

The one exception is Flamenco Guitar

Rob Leon was our VP of Sales for the west at Meebo. He kicked ass at his job, led a fantastic and productive LA office, and helped us push the envelope. In addition to being a pro, he is also friggin hilarious. And his LinkedIn endorsements actually reflect that. Seeing the 18 people who endorsed Rob’s balloon artistry tells me there are 18 people I might want to get to know, because they get it. So ironically, the one thing that can make endorsements not a joke is…a joke.

Rob Leon’s skills:

Rob Leon's LinkedIn skills


2012 called and it wants its blog post back

This ‘feature’ launched 2 years ago, so why bring it up now? Because I really thought it would evolve, or go away. It hasn’t, which means LinkedIn is in too deep. They are hooked on the juice. Pageviews down? Fire up that suggested endorsements module. User inactive? Tell them some random person endorsed them for Internet Explorer. They can’t turn back now, unless we take away the juice.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 11.59.46 AM

They like me! They really like me!
But…they like me! They really like me!

So I ask you, fellow LinkedIn users, to be strong. Do not let these little dopamine fixes make you part of the problem! Stop endorsing things you can’t actually speak to. Except Flamenco Guitar. Endorse that shit all over the place. Turn off the notification emails. Opt out of suggested endorsements. Or just go cold turkey and stop being endorsed! Let your (in)actions turn the good folks at LinkedIn to features that matter.

Good day to you.


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Chris Eberle


  1. I agree with you that endorsements are inferior to recommendations, they are gamed, that they are a bit spammy and they have not evolved.

    They may function somewhat like keywords and link backs in google’s page rank system. This allows LinkedIn an additional layer of data modeling for content, job, sales and ad targeting vs skills that people put up themselves.

    It may be that endorsements are more important for the data model than for the page views.

  2. Rob Leon’s endorsements are the best – LOL!

  3. I think the skill endorsements make light of one of LinkedIn’s (and social media’s) ultimate weaknesses: we don’t know everyone we’re “friends” with. Am I really qualified to endorse a marketing or sales professional when I work in Operations? I may know them as nice, capable people, but professionally speaking, I have no clue whether the web designer that made me a logo 4 years ago knows “web development.”

    LinkedIn is essentially encouraging us to make judgements that we may not be qualified to make. Look at the people that have endorsed your various skills on LinkedIn and then ask yourself if you’d ever use them as a reference for those various skills.

  4. Spot-on assessment, Chris–and thanks for telling me I can turn them off. I’ve been endorsed for some meaningless skills, and the sort of quid pro quo expectation makes my skin crawl. As a rolodex, LinkedIn is a great tool, and it’s helped me get introductions to a few folks I wanted to meet. Other than that, it languishes in my social media dungeon with Twitter. Oops, is my Luddite showing?

  5. How about the idea that referrals have become less and less honest? I hate the idea of referrals…. as they have now become. I want to have someone tell me the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY about a candidate from their perspective. It is up to ME to decide if I think those are good, bad or ugly comments in the job I’d be hiring for.

    When people had listed me as a referral in the past (without asking me, just listing me as a past boss of theirs) when the company called, if my thoughts were not positive, I would simply say that I was not comfortable giving a recommendation or I would spell out the good, the bad and the ugly. If all referrers were to do that, the system would actually WORK.

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