The resume looks good, but she only got two stars on LinkedIn

Most Fistful of Talent readers I am sure by now are familiar with and have probably spent some time on the quasi-addictive new LinkedIn feature called ‘Endorsements’. For those folks looking for a little more background on the LinkedIn Endorsement game check our fearless leader Kris Dunn’s take over on the HR Capitalist. Kris’ piece, as well as a few others I have seen lately, rightly question the validity, accuracy, and relevance of these endorsements, mainly due to the incredible non-thinking manner in which they can be given, as well as the near-impossibility of assessing the veracity and the reliability of the actual connections that have bestowed most of the endorsements.

It’s a kind of game, but mostly a harmless one, as it seems fairly unlikely, (and definitely unprofessional and lazy), that any serious talent professional would place too much stock in any specific individual’s collection and distribution of these shallow, one-click, two-seconds, sort-of recommendations. Because if they were at all accurate and relevant today, then my top endorsed skill would be ‘BBQ’, instead of it ranking about tenth on my profile. I assure you, BBQ is about the only thing I do really, really and consistently well.

So if we can, and I think we can, agree in the talent space that these endorsements are not something to take very seriously, at least not yet, then why such a firestorm of criticism about them? Why so many articles, blog posts, and snarky tweets?  Is it because, well, anything that LinkedIn does is going to be newsworthy? Partially.

But I suspect the true reason is that Kris and the other folks that have expressed pretty strong and mostly negative opinions about the Endorsement game were on to something a little more important. Namely, that these ‘endorsements’, which seem to be definitely taking off in popularity across the LinkedIn platform, are really just the initial step in what could one day become for users of LinkedIn a professional identity that is much, much different than the one which they've become accustomed. This new identity will be more ‘open’, fluid, and in what is the most interesting (and dangerous) aspect – be one that is created capture man’s heart forever advice for relationship

ng>for you and not by you.

Don’t believe that is possible?  Well take a look at an excerpt from a recent interview with Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s Senior VP of Product published in Business Insider:

BI: Endorsements are pretty new, but it seems like a lot of people using them. Do you think they'll eventually replace the typical written recommendation?

DN: Clearly. To write a recommendation you're indebted to writer's block. Something I've discussed quite a bit is, “How do you create a reputation ecosystem where it is lightweight, yet meaningful?” I don't think endorsements in its current form is the ultimate system, but I think it's a lot closer to what the ultimate system of reputation is going to look like where we use our technology and understanding of who you are based on your profile and the profile of your network plus your interactions on LinkedIn.

Eventually, we'll be able to determine “here are the five skills you probably have.” Some of them may be stated explicitly in your profile, some may not be. Based on endorsements you receive from your network, we can start building a much richer profile of you. (emphasis mine).

Let that sink in, and don’t bother trying to question or raise any serious objection to the likelihood that endorsements and other LinkedIn network activity will continue to form a more central role in creating what we consider to be someone’s professional identity unless you can honestly raise your hand and claim that LinkedIn profile content doesn't really play a role in your talent decision making process.

We don’t buy a TV without reading the reviews on Amazon, don’t try a new restaurant if Yelp says it rates only 2.5 stars, and wouldn't dream of downloading a $1.99 app from the iTunes store without first checking out at least half a dozen ratings.

How soon until we won’t hire, or even interview someone that ‘scores’ low on some LinkedIn index to come?

“We can start building a much richer profile of you.”

That may be the most interesting line of 2012 in the talent game.


FOT Background Check

Steve Boese
Steve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive's HR Technology Conference. He is also a former Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle and an HR Technology instructor. Steve can also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast … you know, where a bunch of HR pros get together and call in to talk about HR stuff. Sounds like an SNL skit, we know. But when you have Dave Ulrich, the grandfather of HR as show guests, well, I guess you’re doing something right.  Talk to Steve via emailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook.


  1. Ed Han says:

    This is very, very illuminating, Steve. While I’m at best ambivalent about endorsements I appreciate the added insight you provide given that quotation. That definitely bears much closer watching. Thank you!

  2. Steve Boese says:

    Thanks very much for your comments, Ed. Have a great end of 2012!

  3. Kelly Dingee says:

    These endorsements are wacky…because I’m competitive I LOVE seeing that I got a couple more. But the most valid endorsements are from people I’ve worked with, not the random people just passing them out because they’re bored at lunch.

    With that being said I’m wondering if others expect reciprocity? Is it implied? I endorsed you, you should endorseme? I have a HR higher up that I never worked with endorsing me weekly…fine. But we never worked together, I came on board 2 months after he left…Not sure I understand what that’s about.

    The whole concept makes me skeptical.


  4. Steve Boese says:

    There is probably an element of people’s general desire to reciprocate positive feedback that LinkedIn is playing off of, and Kris’ original take in the HR Capitalist I think examined as well. LinkedIn wants/needs more engagement across the network to make this work in the way they envision. I am mostly concerned that more and more what will constitute the professional profile of record will be influenced by things and actions outside of a person’s control. Which perhaps has always been true in the ‘real world’ too, I admit.

  5. Matt Duren says:

    I feel that plain old professional courtesy waters this whole thing down. You can’t “disagree with” or “cancel out” someone else’s endorsement to provide a true, weighted evaluation of the skill. Kelly may think that I do something really well and she gives me an endorsement. Steve, you may think I suck at that same thing, but you can’t (and maybe wouldn’t, even if you could) givea negative rating on that skill. Until the system is set to provide some sort of average rating like Yelp or App Store reviews, I can’t take a lot of stock in it. Can we really publicly review and research talent like we do when buying a dishwasher?

    But, like Kelly, I do enjoy getting them!

  6. Jeannette Marshall says:

    I liked this article, so much so I went to hit “share”. To my dismay, there are no share buttons for Twitter, FB, Linked In even. Isn’t that odd in today’s world?


  7. There is something about using a star system for something as important as a job profile that doesn’t work for me. If anything, it makes tech-oriented companies like it staffing firm a bad name if they work on that instead of a more arbitrary system. Thanks for the post, Steve.

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