When LinkedIn first introduced the endorsement function, there was plenty of distress and uproar. We’ve all received endorsements for skills we didn’t know we had from people who don’t even know us.

Though I think I could navigate compensation and benefits, I’ve never done it, so I was mystified when a mystery endorsement came from someone who endorsed me for “compensation and benefits.”

So, in an effort to understand more about this function and to educate those in a job search, I went to explore the pros and cons of endorsements. What does it get me that recommendations don’t already afford me? Are they worth it? Should I remove the skills that I don’t actually have?

The conclusion that I’ve reached is LinkedIn endorsements are good!

Back in 2011, LinkedIn introduced the “skills and experience” feature. Many of us have not gotten around to filling this out. So, first, let me highlight where to find your endorsements. LinkedIn endorsements appear near the middle of your profile and written next to each “skill” in a blue box is the number of endorsements you’ve received for each identified skill. The higher the number, the greater number of endorsements you’ve received. For example on my profile, you will notice, 99+ endorsements for the keyword “Talent Management”:linkedin-endorsements

You can edit your profile and select certain specialties that you deem you are skilled in. This is worth doing because you want people endorsing you to check off the skills you believe are most important. Pick at least 10 skills. You can also change the order that these appear on your profile.

Second, someone may endorse you for a skill or specialty and you have the right to approve this endorsement. Once you have approved the keyword, this skill will show up on your profile. Note you can also hide the endorsements you don’t want to display.

There are two ways you can make endorsements work for you:

HIGHER PROFILE RANKING: LinkedIn works similarly to Google – the more a keyword is featured within your profile, the higher the ranking. When a recruiter is using LinkedIn and conducting a keyword search, the more endorsements you have received for a particular skill, increasing your chances of being found.

GOOD PR: Although, if you ask a recruiter about endorsements, they don’t give them much weight (much more weight is put on recommendations) but they do say that they are “nice to have.” Consider if you are applying for an accountant job, for instance, and your competitors have 99+ endorsements from colleagues and previous supervisors, while you have zero, that could hurt your chances.

The endorsement function does not replace the good ‘ol fashion recommendation, which should be included within your profile, but rather can be a complement to your profile and ultimately help you get found. So, if you are a job seeker or simply looking to beef up your LinkedIn profile, take the time to allocate skills on your profile and watch the endorsements fly in!

What’s your opinion on the endorsement function? Tell us how it has helped you in your job search.

Shawna Simcik, M.S., CMP, Managing Partner, OI Global Partners Colorado – Innovative Career Consulting.

Working in partnership with clients, Shawna designs custom career transition and leadership development for individuals, teams and corporations to address and attain sustainable, business results. Shawna is an active member and Board Director with the Colorado Human Resources Association and a 2011 and 2012 “40 Under 40” Nominee. Shawna holds a BA in psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is certified as a Career Management Practitioner through the Institute of Career Certification International. She can be contacted at ssimcik@oiglobalpartners.com.

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