By now, most of you probably know that LinkedIn is the gold standard for online professional networking. Regardless of your opinion of social networking in general, LinkedIn is a site you simply can’t afford to overlook. A basic account is free, though in order to really get the most out of it, you’ll need to invest a little time and energy into the process.
To help you, I’m starting a blog series wherein I’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions on how to utilize the various features LinkedIn offers.
Today’s article discusses the differences between endorsements and recommendations and which one is “better” for your needs.
Simply put, both the endorsement and recommendation features on LinkedIn provide opportunities to gather “social proof” regarding who you are and what you do. They allow other people to vouch for your skills and experience, thus increasing your credibility for those who don’t already know, like and trust you.
While they work in entirely different ways, both are important parts of creating a compelling profile. In my opinion, recommendations are slightly MORE important, but harder to get (you’ll see why in a minute).
When creating your profile on LinkedIn, you have the option to create a list of skills that define your expertise. For example, in my profile I have the following:
- Resume Writing
- Career Development
- Career Counseling
- Executive Coaching
- Public Speaking
- Career Management
- Job Coaching
- Interview Preparation
These currently show up as my “top” skills because I have the most endorsements for these. Additional skills I’ve listed show up below that list. These ones have fewer endorsements but are still relevant to my profile. To help illustrate, here’s a picture of this portion of my profile:
This list of skills helps recruiters and prospective employers find you. Think of them as search terms. They also provide a quick glance overview of your abilities when someone new lands on your profile.
Anyone in your network can “endorse” any of your listed skills simply by clicking a button.
Many times, when you log on to LinkedIn, you’ll get a notification that someone has endorsed your skills, or it will ask you endorse the skills of someone in your network. It’s as easy as pushing a button that says “endorse”.
You can also endorse others by simply navigating to the person’s profile. At the top of the page, a message will pop up that says, “Does so-and-so have these skills and expertise?” And again, it’s as easy as pushing a button.
The ease with which this can be done is both good and bad.
It’s good because you can end up with a nice hefty number of endorsements. Yay for social proof!!
It’s bad because it’s so easy, often these endorsements don’t mean much. I know many people who have endorsed me for skills they have never directly experienced from me. In my opinion, an endorsement SHOULD mean you have directly experienced this person using this skill. However, in practice, that’s not what happens.
I believe most people are beginning to sense the lack of real meaning in endorsements so perhaps in the future LinkedIn will change how this is done. For now, you’ll likely collect them quite easily and they’ll make your profile look nice.
Recommendations on LinkedIn are quite different and, in my opinion, much more meaningful.
A recommendation is a written statement from someone in your network endorsing you and your abilities—like a reference letter but shorter.
In order to receive recommendations, you (generally) need to request them. While people can elect to voluntarily write one for you (what a nice surprise!), it helps to ask directly.
In another article in this series, I’ll address the specifics regarding what to include in your request and who to ask. For now, here are the technical steps to ask for a recommendation:
- Go to your profile
- Click the drop down arrow next to the “edit” button
- Select “ask to be recommended”
- Follow the 3 steps listed on the recommendation request screen
A recommendation takes more time and effort on the part of the person endorsing you. It’s not as easy as just clicking a button; they actually need to write about their experience with you as a professional. That’s what makes recommendations so powerful.
Here’s a screenshot of two of mine:
Recommendations add a powerful punch to your profile. It’s like a big billboard saying, “Hey! This person is great and I’m willing to put my own reputation on the line to support them!” A recommendation is a demonstration of trust—and it helps build trust in others.
From now on, consider requesting a LinkedIn recommendation in addition to (or instead of) a reference letter from former bosses, etc.
In short, you want to have both endorsements and recommendations in your LinkedIn profile. Endorsements are easier to get, but recommendations are more meaningful. Both are used to build your credibility. After all, you can claim to have expertise in anything. Only after others confirm your claim does it really become believable.
Do you have a question about LinkedIn? Email me and I’ll be happy to address it in an upcoming article.
Are we connected on LinkedIn? If not, please request a connection and let me know you’re a part of the Eat Your Career community. Here’s my profile.