If you are active at all on LinkedIn (I am because I am seeking my “next great opportunity), you probably have received a flurry of emails from your connections endorsing you. Endorsements are the shortcut version of recommendations, and don’t require nearly as much effort as writing a paragraph or two recommendation. Or thought for that matter, as LinkedIn presents you with a list of endorseable skills to pick from. It also preselects one, though I wish it would rotate the pre-selections from my top skills, as I am top-heavy with endorsements for “email marketing”, which I don’t even consider one of my top five skills. As far as I can tell there is no way for me to control what default endorsement solicitations shows up on other people’s LinkedIn home pages, unless I want to remove that skill altogether from my profile. Which I don’t want to do, because I don’t want to lose 22 endorsements. I do believe that hiring managers and recruiters judge you to some extent from the breadth and depth of your endorsements.
According to Forbes, you might also learn somethings about yourself. “Over time, you’ll notice some of your skills and expertise are receiving a lot of endorsements while others aren’t. This is great market research about your personal brand. Are people endorsing you for the types of things you want to do and be known for? If not, take the time to promote those abilities.”
I always consider it a compliment when I receive an endorsement. That person has made a conscious effort to pat me on that back for some project or work we have done together in the past. And I believe most endorsements are in good faith. I have received one or two endorsements that seemed gratuitous, in that the person could not really be in any position to judge me on the skill they endorsed me for. Those individuals are trolling for “endorsebacks,” in my opinion. And usually I don’t reciprocate.
But in the majority of cases, quid pro quo rules. I usually review the persons skills and choose the endorseback that I think best reflects their profile, not necessarily the default one. And if they endorsed me for multiple skills, I try to reciprocate that as well. If you really know the person well, and know they have a sense of humor, its fun to pick an unusual skill. For an HR friend of mine, I chose “Fashion blogging” because at one time she had written a blog on the etiquette faux pas of wearing flip-flops to work. I don’t know if she appreciated it or not, but endorsements can always be deleted if you don’t like them.
Initiating LinkedIn endorsements are also a good way to reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to or seen in a while. Send a message along with the endorsement and you have put your name top of mind to your connection. I don’t see how it can be an intrustion, especially since you are paying them a compliment. If they don’t reciprocate, you may want to think of why not. It may tell you something about yourself, or about them.