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

Steve Boese Candidate Pool, HR, Recruiting, Social Media and Talent, Steve Boese

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.