SUCCESS OR DEATH IS BASED IN MARYLAND. The blog highlights one veteran's journey through what it means to be an entrepreneur.

What is an Endorsement Worth?

Today I spent some time pondering my LinkedIn profile and how many connections I had. On my usual commute from work to home, approximately an hour at times, I decided to call one of my friends who’s an OEF veteran. Our discussion revolved around the endorsements someone receives on LinkedIn related to some skill or measure of expertise. I mentioned that on the platform, you have friends and coworkers who provide an endorsement for a skill you possess. The issue, I communicated to him, was the fact unless there is a written testimonial, I’m usually not one to believe it, coupled with the fact the person should have worked for or with the person and can physically attest to witnessing the skill in action. This led me to several questions:

What criteria are required for an endorsement?

Answer: None

Solution: Require endorsers to have worked at the same location/company/organization as the endorsee.

Reason: Too many times, it appears that friends of the connection endorse an individual so anyone on the outside looking at the profile (i.e. potential employer) just takes it at face value. I’ve seen people I don’t even know endorse me for things, and while flattering, may not be grounded in any tangible scenario where the endorser was witness to that skill.

What level has the individual achieved in a skill?

Answer: No indication because there isn’t a quantifiable measurement.

Solution: Assign a scale of some kind with a key that identifies what each number/range means.

Reason: If I look at someone’s LinkedIn profile, I see several endorsements by hundreds of people for an item. This is problematic for a couple reasons. First, the individual may have worked at a company for only a year and met a tremendous amount of people and connected with them on LinkedIn. Second, during that year, what determined the level of expertise the user was operating at while employed? How was it measured? As a potential employer, I’m wondering how sound those endorsements are without testimonials to accompany it. It’s easy to click a button, but writing about someone takes actual effort.

Is there a better way to make a user on LinkedIn more credible through a system with an endorsement-like model?

Answer: Yes

Solution: A combination of the first two solutions, above, with added features will ensure individuals looking for potential candidates can have peace of mind as it pertains to the skills of the user.

Reason: A resume, without keywords, is a waste of paper. While I’m not a professional resume writer, there is formatting now that has become the standard, but always remember to tailor it to the job you’re seeking. There can be harmony between what a recruiter sees on a user’s LinkedIn profile and what is submitted via the corporate site on a resume. When they don’t match up, there’s cause for concern and may require some further investigation. The main idea to keep in mind is there typically won’t be a system in place on a resume to highlight the skills of the user other than years of experience.

Sure, you can say you reduced X number of reports required and saved Y company thousands of dollars in the process, but it is only a highlight and nothing else. The trick here is to find the sweet spot of displaying a credible method of quantifying your skills while demonstrating you have the abilities, and the conventional resume is not the medium to present skills on any kind of scale without supporting testimony from prior coworkers. References are chosen for a reason. You want to put your best foot forward as a candidate for a job, but it’s difficult to find the happy medium when it comes to verifying skills.

Once LinkedIn moves beyond being a platform to post a profile and the occasional job posting, it can legitimately be the vehicle through which people communicate and collaborate professionally. 

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This blog originally appeared on my LinkedIn profile.

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