It's all about the keywords. In today's environment, your "client-server development skills" might not be as desirable as, say, your "social," "mobile" and "cloud" development experience. Being endorsed for these skills looks good to any prospective partners or employers in need of them, but you need to make sure you have highlighted that specific experience in your profile.
"If you're looking to utilize LinkedIn's Endorsements feature, you must first create a concise and direct list of skills," said Heather Huhman, a career and workplace expert, and founder and president of Come Recommended. "Building your skills list will provide your connections with an opportunity to actually endorse you when they come across your page. … It's similar, but less helpful, than a [LinkedIn] recommendation."
But what about the tit-for-tat issue? If someone endorses you, are you breaching any unwritten rules of etiquette by not endorsing him or her back?
"Many users fall into the trap of endorsing others in a way of returning the favor," said Huhman. "While this act isn't necessarily troubling in itself, endorsing individuals whose skill sets you aren't familiar with can lead to problems. As a rule of thumb, you should never endorse anyone for a skill you're not 100% certain about. You'd never write a recommendation letter for someone you didn't know, and the same goes for a skill endorsement -- even if it is on a social platform."
What if you receive an endorsement from someone you barely know or remember? Definitely don't endorse the person back, say experts, but consider it an opportunity to reconnect. You never know where the relationship might lead.
"If you're interested in reconnecting with this person, consider reaching out to them through a message," said Huhman. "LinkedIn Endorsements are a great way to spark a conversation with someone you've previously worked with."
Linda Varrell, president of Broadreach Public Relations, agreed. "If you have lost touch with someone and they recently endorsed you, it is a great way to reconnect." Varrell recommends responding with a short note saying something like, "Thank you so much for the endorsement. I see that you are still with XX. Would love to have a coffee and reconnect."
In the grand scheme of things, say experts, Endorsements can't be ignored, but you shouldn't spend too much time and effort on cultivating or curating them.
"Take Endorsements seriously but not too seriously," said Breitbarth. "I believe most people consider Endorsements to be similar to Likes on Facebook: Everyone knows some people make them thoughtfully and others make them flippantly. Thus, I don't feel it's necessary to spend a lot of time screening them."
What is your experience with Endorsements? Have you been endorsed? Done any endorsing? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
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