It has been a while since LinkedIn rolled out its endorsement feature, and I hate it. Don’t get me wrong. I love LinkedIn, and a big fan of the service. It is one of the best professional networking sites.
My biggest cribs about the endorsement feature are:
- There are some people in my professional network whom I barely know. These guys are still important to me, and are present in my network for networking purposes. Example – several head-hunters and HR professionals. I do not want them endorsing my technical skills. I don’t mean disrespect to these people, but it dilutes the endorsement. I would rather have such an endorsement from (say) my manager (or ex-managers).
- The skill set basket is still very weak. As a computer science professional, I do not want to be endorsed for stuff like algorithms and data structures. These are fundamentals. I would rather be endorsed for something like C/C++ programming, or Program Management, or Building Teams, Technical Management.
- And do not force me by saying, “Mr. Foo has endorsed you, do you want to endorse him?”. I do not like being emotionally blackmailed. Some times, I do not want to return the favour. Especially when the favour was not asked for.
Perhaps, the above three points of feedback have been given to LinkedIn already, perhaps a thousand times, but the endorsement circus continues on.
As a Technical manager, and a computer science professional, I hate just talking about problems. Wherever I can, I give a couple of suggestions/fixes. My suggestions to fixing this ‘mess-up’ are:
LinkedIn, be the great professional service that you are. Retract the feature. There is nothing wrong in retracting. It only shows your commitment to customers.
- I do understand this is highly unlikely. If I can take the liberty of guessing the underlying power of endorsements, it is for the savvy recruiter to hunt for people with required skill sets (aka the skill sets that people have endorsed the candidate for). It also gives a nice indirect reference check.
- Ask me, if I want to accept endorsements from your network. Give an option (in the header menu) to locate someone in my network and propose an endorsement. (Of course, as in (2), this endorsement would need to be ‘accepted’ by the recipient.) This would make the endorsement feature very similar to the ‘recommendation’ feature. In fact, it would give the lazy professional networker a lazy option to recommend someone.
- Create ‘proximity’ levels within my professional network – much like the ‘circles’ in the google+ network. And give me control on who goes into which level, and which levels I can accept endorsements from.
The one thing that you would notice common in all of my three suggestions are that, make the act of endorsing user-cognizant/user-initiated. This way, I have control over my endorsements, much like my recommendations.