Endorsements on LinkedIn

There must be something in the LinkedIn water.  Over the weekend I received a request from one of my (12,700) LinkedIn contacts for an endorsement.  The man wrote that he has spent scores of hours on his LinkedIn profile.  He even wrote that the time he has spent on his Profile was worth something like a quarter of a million dollars!  According to his Profile, he’s certified, well educated, a published author and very well respected.  After all, he has endorsements after endorsements.  People sing his praises!

Just one problem, I don’t know the man!  I wrote to him and told him that the fact that he would ask a stranger for an endorsement pretty much discredits all of the endorsements on his Profile.

His letter to me was long and nuanced.  His answer was short, sweet and to the point.  He doesn’t send SPAM and does not know who sent the request.  He didn’t.

I had pretty much forgotten all about this until a few minutes ago when I received another request for an endorsement from a different LinkedIn contact.  Also a stranger.  This one did not even bother to write anything.   She used the LinkedIn endorsement request form.

So what’s the problem?, I hear you asking.  The problem is that LinkedIn profiles are sometimes used as points of comparison to actual resumes.  Discrepancies lead to questions being asked.  This does not just hold true for employment information, but also for endorsements or, to be precise, references.

As a general rule of thumb, because of confidentiality, a recruiter or employer should never contact anyone about a candidate without the candidate’s permission.  But that may not be the case with persons making endorsements on someone’s LinkedIn Profile.  The owner of the Profile has to grant permission for the endorsement to be posted.  That could imply permission to contact the endorser.

I have never done it, but I don’t really think there is anything wrong with a potential employer contacting someone who posted an endorsement on a candidate’s profile confirming the legitimacy of the endorsement, as long as they don’t mention the fact that the person is looking for a job.  If the person making the endorsement is a stranger, it could be problematic, not to mention embarrassing for the candidate.  Of course, the better tactic would be for the employer to specifically ask the candidate for permission to contact all the persons who endorsed them on their LinkedIn Profile.  If the candidate refuses, that could be a sign of trouble.

LinkedIn Profiles are actually important and taken seriously.  Don’t play stupid games with yours!