LinkedIn Endorsements and Your Job Search

Controversial topics can enliven your job search–for instance, they give you opinions on multiple sides of an issue that potentially affects your ongoing career success. LinkedIn’s endorsements feature is one of those topics. I’ve written about it before, but based on what I’m reading and hearing these days, it merits another look.

What People are saying about LinkedIn Endorsements

I have just been reading a thread on LinkedIn by people commenting on the Endorsements feature. Out of dozens–maybe hundreds–of comments, not one comment was favorable! The thread apparently started around mid-2013 and has continued as of April 2014. As near as I can tell, all the commenters on the thread are job seekers or potential job seekers. If any were hiring managers, recruiters, etc., I missed those.

The views ranged from “a waste of time” to “potentially damaging to your career image.” Frequent themes centered around the feeling that LinkedIn has essentially forced endorsements down the throats of its members and is 100% non-responsive to their unhappiness. Basically, these people feel as if they’re seeing a corporate mentality from LinkedIn that says to members, “If you don’t like our rules, take your marbles and go home.”

Can You Opt-Out of LinkedIn Endorsements?

Some people indicated that they have participated, reluctantly, but have made an effort to limit the level of inappropriate activity–such as people endorsing them for skills they either don’t have or don’t want to emphasize in their LinkedIn profile. Others mentioned their efforts to opt-out of the endorsement feature in one way or another.

If you go to the LinkedIn Help Center and search for “Opting Out of Endorsements,” you will find tips on how to prevent endorsement suggestions from displaying on profiles you view or on your own profile when other people view it. However, in order to completely opt-out of endorsements, you have to select an option that hides all of your endorsements already received. That could leave an obvious hole in your profile, and you might not want to do it, but it’s something to consider.

By the way, the Help Center instructions suggest unclicking the two items about endorsement suggestions on profiles viewed (which will supposedly prevent those suggestions from appearing). However, I already had those unclicked on my LinkedIn profile and I still get those suggestions, so I think their “system” for that procedure is flawed.

Who Cares about LinkedIn Endorsements?

Besides LinkedIn, that is. Employers/recruiters might. One thing I’ve read is that LinkedIn designed the feature primarily so recruiters could search for candidates with specific skills because they want to increase revenue from recruiters (or their companies). I don’t know if this is a fact or not, but I suppose it’s a possibility.

I haven’t seen much, if anything, from employers on this subject so far, and it might be that they appreciate the endorsements feature more than job seekers do. I wonder, though, how happy they would be if they had reliable data on just how inaccurate the lists on members’ profiles can be.

For example, my list used to include “career counseling”–I didn’t put it there. Other people endorsed me for it, despite the fact that although I do provide career coaching, I don’t do career counseling (which requires a counseling degree). If someone were looking to hire me for career counseling, they’d be disappointed. (I removed that item from my list, with the associated endorsements.)

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Company Loyalty: A One-Way Street?

Have you ever had a job where you knocked yourself out for the company, putting in a lot of unpaid effort, only to be caught in a subsequent layoff round because your pay level was higher than the employees they kept? If so, you know that company loyalty isn’t always a two-way street.

Company Loyalty as a One-Way Street

Most, if not all, companies expect you to put in considerable effort on their behalf, respect their confidential information, protect their reputation, etc., in return for your regular paycheck. And sometimes the return they receive from you is disproportionately larger than the value of your check.

That’s part of the one-way-street picture. The other part is that too many companies consider employees expendable, a disposable resource if things start getting a little tight. It’s true that sometimes companies don’t have a choice about layoffs and other difficult actions, but that’s certainly not always the case.

Best Companies to Work For

Every year Fortune compiles its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. While you could argue about some of their choices, based on your personal experience or on information you’ve gained from sources you respect, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the list.

Along with that, Fortune separately breaks out a list of 24 companies that are hiring. Purportedly those companies each expect to hire 1,000 people or more in the coming year.

Again, this is subject to change and to a certain degree of personal interpretation (possibly skewed one direction or another), but worth looking at when you’re planning your next career move.

Company Loyalty as a Two-Way Street

Large, small or somewhere in between, you can probably find a number of companies that respect and value their employees, provide them with a positive work environment, encourage them to grow professionally and don’t take unfair advantage of them “just because they can.”

That’s not to say your search will be easy or that you won’t hit a few bumps in the road along the way. However, I believe it’s essential to start your job search with both a positive attitude and a determination not to settle for less than the best in your employer–for as long as you can.

You will, after all, probably have to live with your choice for a while.

P.S. You might have noticed that my blog posts have been pretty sporadic lately. They’re about to get even more so, because I’m preparing for a long-awaited (and, I believe, well-deserved) vacation from work. I will be away from the computer at least from May 26 through June 9, but I’ll be thinking of you…not :).


Communication Tips–Before the Hire & On the Job

Communication. What a vague and potentially meaningless term! Note that this doesn’t mean it’s unimportant–far from it.

Communication comes in two forms, broadly described as written and oral (spoken). For greater success in landing a new position and doing well afterward, you need to have strong skills in both areas.

6 Tips for Effective Communication

Whether in a job search or after you’ve been hired, you need to ensure that what you put in writing reflects not only solid knowledge in your area of expertise but also the ability to communicate critical points clearly to the intended audience. If your purpose includes persuading people to adopt a certain point of view or to take a specific action, your written communications need to present a compelling reason for readers to do that.

3 Tips for Good Written Communication:

  • Get to the point. Don’t ramble on and put your readers to sleep.
  • Avoid ambiguity. Determine your intent, focus on it and then double-check to make sure you’ve expressed it clearly.
  • Know your audience. Use wording and concepts that will speak strongly to them. Otherwise, you risk losing their attention.

3 Tips for Good Oral Communication:

Actually, the previously listed tips for written communication are good here as well! However, here are some that are specific to oral (spoken) communication:

  • Watch for body language in your listener that tells you they’re tuning out.
  • Maintain a moderate pace as you speak. Remember that people can listen faster than you can (or should) talk, but avoid the temptation to talk too quickly.
  • Make sure your voice quality (tone, volume, pacing, etc.) is as “listenable” as possible. Have someone else listen to you speak if you’re not sure how you come across.

Communication Before the Hire vs. On the Job

Before you’re hired, your main concern probably is to convince the company that it should hire you rather than one of your competitors. You’ll be looking at every aspect you can reasonably include that will help you achieve that goal. This includes both written and oral communication methods. Among other things, you’ll want to emphasize the value you can bring to the company in the open position.

On the other hand, once you actually land the job, your focus shifts. Now you need to look at convincing the company that it made a wise decision by hiring you. What you say/write and how you do that will play a big part in the way you are viewed by your boss, his/her boss, your subordinates (if any), colleagues–everyone inside the company that has anything to do with you.

The same obviously applies to your external communications–with customers, vendors, regulatory authorities, whoever you have contact with as part of your job. They could be your valuable supporters or your detractors, depending on how you handle communications with them.

In other words, it’s still about value, but now it’s time to, as the saying goes, “put up or shut up.” In short, don’t just say or write it–prove it.

Final Communication Tip

If you lack confidence at all in your ability to communicate well before the hire or on the job, do something about it! Get help if necessary to identify your most critical “needs improvement” areas (written or oral) and take appropriate action to correct them ASAP. The last thing you want is to have weaknesses in this area hold back your professional growth and career success or to sabotage the new job you worked so hard to capture.