LinkedIn promises to bring order and meaning to your useless endorsements

Some endorsements are more valuable than others.
Some endorsements are more valuable than others.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
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LinkedIn’s endorsement feature has never felt like the most trustworthy of sources.

Rather than a panel of star witnesses who can honestly vouch for you, it more often seems like a random assortment of friends, acquaintances, and opportunists hoping for an endorsement in return. On my profile, for example, in my top skill of journalism (no jokes, please), I’m endorsed by editors I’ve worked with for years, but also PR executives I’ve only spoken to once or twice.

LinkedIn has recognized the problem and is trying to address it by creating a hierarchy of endorsers. Instead of all your endorsements having equal weight, the site will highlight people who might actually have some claim on knowing you, such as former colleagues and classmates, or who have credibility in the field.

The goal is to make the feature more like the real world, where you ask for recommendations from people you trust or are in a position to know, says Hari Srinivasan, head of the LinkedIn team developing the feature. “If you want to find a good designer, you ask other good designers,” he said.

It’s not a trivial issue. More than 400 million people have profiles on LinkedIn, and employers are increasingly using it to recruit. Profiles with skills and endorsements rise to the top in LinkedIn’s search algorithm, and those that include at least five skills receive as many as 17 times more profile views, according to the company.

The new product will be rolled out on LinkedIn’s mobile sites starting today, and on its desktop site following a wider redesign.

Srinivasan acknowledges that since endorsements are a “one-click experience,” they have limitations. The written recommendations will always carry more weight, he said.