Coming Changes To LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements On The Desktop User Interface

LinkedIn wrote about changes to Skills and Endorsements back in October. They  started rolling out these changes to the mobile app in late October. They will be enabled on the new User Interface that desktop users are starting to see too. Here’s what’s different and what it may mean.

1) Endorsements are now personalized to each person who visits your profile

For example, skills endorsed by mutual connections, colleagues and people  LinkedIn figures are experts at that skill will be highlighted.   

It looks like LinkedIn has a found a sneaky way to fight “endorsement stockpiling.” You may have 99 endorsements for strategy, but LinkedIn may only show the 13 of them that LinkedIn thinks are relevant to that viewer.

2) LinkedIn will use algos to find close connections who can validate your skills.

In their October 26 announcement, LinkedIn says they they will “improve targeting for suggesting endorsements so that the connections who know your work best can validate your skills.”

Previously, LinkedIn suggested people to endorse in a seemingly random manner with a generic “what does Fred know about <skill>” type message. It now appears LinkedIn is going to look for people you are close to, and suggest you endorse those people for their skills.  

In theory, this makes sense, as I am more likely to endorse someone I actually do know really well versus one of my more speculative connections.

On the other hand, LinkedIn may figure out “connections who know your work best” by using something like the Connection Strength Score, which has not been very helpful for Notifications.

3) There is a definite link between skills / endorsements and LinkedIn search results.

While this has been implied in the past, this is the first concrete proof I have seen  that Skills are taken into consideration in search results. As LinkedIn says in the announcement, “Endorsements help ensure you are more likely to be discovered through search.”

Note that “more likely to be discovered” means you will be included in the search results. It does not necessarily mean you will rank near the top in the search results.

4) LinkedIn will now suggest skills you should add “based on your profile”

This may be based on seeing you use a keyword like “Strategy” in your Summary and then suggesting you list “Strategy” as a skill. Or this may just be a sneaky way for LinkedIn to advertise LinkedIn Learning courses which would teach you that skill you should add.

5) Endorsements are still used primarily by recruiters and HR people

This come through in the wording in LinkedIn’s announcements – things like “more than a third of hiring managers spend more than 60 seconds browsing your skills and endorsements” – you can see that Endorsements are still thought of by LinkedIn as a tool for hiring.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t use them for our own purposes. In particular, I have found that Skills and Endorsements are a great place for STEM people to list things like programming languages and technologies they are conversant with.

So what does this all mean? It looks like Skills and Endorsements are here to stay. I think if LinkedIn really was interested in helping us users, they would be putting the same effort into Recommendations. But while Skills and Endorsements help LinkedIn users somewhat, they sure seem to help LinkedIn more, providing “hooks” for Sales Navigator and Recruiting people to use, and possibly helping to sell Learning courses.  

Of course, the actual appearance of all this new Skills and Endorsements  functionality is dependent upon the new desktop user interface rollout, which at present, doesn’t seem to be rolling very quickly.


LinkedIn Endorsements Have Become Important. There’s A Lesson Here

wine glassesSometimes what LinkedIn does now doesn’t make sense till later

Way back when Skills and Endorsements were introduced (yes, they were announced in late September, 2012), I did it myself. I wrote about the Facebook-ization of LinkedIn. Endorsements were frivolous. Recommendations were for serious LinkedIn users and Endorsements were just fluff, confetti to be tossed around and easily gamed. I was one of many people that dismissed it as a poorly thought out attempt to increase engagement on the LinkedIn platform.

Fast forward to the present: LinkedIn released the new version of their Recruiter platform in Q1 2016. This is LinkedIn’s flagship product, responsible for more revenue than any other, and maybe more revenue than ALL of LinkedIn’s other products put together. You have to think that the product managers at LinkedIn invest a lot of time and effort in figuring out how to improve this product for their most important customers. The new version of Recruiter has filters where users  can look for LinkedIn Profiles with specific skills – those same skills we laughed at three years ago.

If you are a job hunter, either actively looking or passively open to receiving  offers, Skills and Endorsements just became an important part of your LinkedIn profile.

Now, maybe Skills and Endorsements was a happy mistake, something that could be incorporated into the Recruiter product, so it was. But I think the more likely scenario is that it was an experiment, specifically with integration into the recruiter product somewhere down the line in mind.

Endorsements was a feature whose importance and whole reason for being wasn’t recognized for a long time.

Here’s another feature that a lot of people still don’t understand the reason for:  anonymous profile views. For a long time no one understood why users were allowed to be anonymous when they viewed profiles, and LinkedIn wasn’t saying.

Anonymous profile views anger a lot of LinkedIn users, but they make a lot of people happy. Recruiters – remember those people who use that most important product LinkedIn has? – use the anonymous feature and it makes them happy. They pay LinkedIn lots of money for the privilege. People who complain don’t make this  connection or feel that their free accounts matter more to LinkedIn than the anonymous dude’s paid account (yeah, good luck with that).

Another example is all the changes in LinkedIn Groups which almost no one likes. There is something there, a reason for all these changes, we just can’t see it yet.  We will, but on LinkedIn’s schedule, not ours.

I think there is a lesson here: LinkedIn has a roadmap. We are privy to it in only the broadest sense through what LinkedIn says at conferences or earnings calls. From time to time new features pop up that seemingly make no sense, or features and capabilities disappear or are modified – but all these things serve a higher purpose, one that we will discover somewhere down the line.

So when LinkedIn introduces something that seems frivolous, like an Endorsement feature, don’t roll your eyes and laugh at it. Instead ask yourself where this could lead. That type of thinking has me looking differently at a couple of other things LinkedIn has done lately. It has me thinking about where LinkedIn could be going, which is a lot better use of my time than complaining about a feature that looks odd on face value.


Four Mistakes to Avoid with LinkedIn Recommendations

Information searchI talk quite a bit (some people say excessively. Guilty as charged) about LinkedIn Endorsements and how they are a poor cousin to LinkedIn Recommendations (see here).

In the interests of restoring a little balance to the world, let’s talk about what people do wrong with LinkedIn recommendations. Recommendations are a lot more valuable than endorsements, but can still be botched and rendered ineffective. Here are a few ways LinkedIn users make a mess of what should be a good thing:  

They don’t have any recommendations

We are moving to a testimonial & recommendation based world. People check brands out, and with LinkedIn, they will check people out. Research shows people don’t trust advertising by brands, but they will trust testimonials by strangers. Let’s apply this to LinkedIn: they won’t necessarily trust what someone says in their profile, but they will be more disposed to trusting what a third party says in the recommendation on their profile.

They have too few recommendations – especially for their current and previous jobs

Unless someone is fairly new to a job, they should have one or two recommendations for that current job. It is good to have some recommendations for the previous job too, as these are the places that LinkedIn profile readers will focus on. Most people looking at a LinkedIn profile will look at the work history  to see which companies a person was with, and to check the job titles for career progression. Then, as they are either thinking of the person as a potential employee or business partner, they will want to read any recommendations for the current position, and possibly the previous one.

Recommendations that are a little vague

Usually, vague recommendations are just the result of a little sloppiness between the two parties involved. Unfortunately, vague recommendations can come across on a LinkedIn Profile as a sign that the person doing the recommending either does not know the person they are recommending that well or is being purposely vague because they really are not that keen on recommending them in the first place. Not good.

Too many recommendations

I get into a lot of arguments over this one, “How can you have too much of a good thing?”. Well, two reasons: I think the valid points that a person wants to get across can get lost in a sea of good words and intentions. There is an old saying in advertising, “when you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing”. Too many recommendations for  one position can make the person look suspiciously superhuman. The second reason is that when I see ten, or twelve, or twenty recommendations for someone I don’t think, “wow, this person is really good at their job”. I think “wow, this person is really good at getting recommendations.”

So how can you receive terrific recommendations that will boost your brand? We will cover that in my next post. Oh, come on, it is only two days, you can wait that long.