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New Zealand is LinkedIn’s Lab Rat

By September 13, 20124 Comments

Many of you will by now have noticed that LinkedIn have added a snappy new “Endorsements” functionality to the Skills & Expertise section of your Profile Page.  What you may not have been aware of is that they are actually using New Zealand to trial the new function so we are the first, and only, people viewing this new feature.

How does this make you feel?  Are you happy being used like a cheap irrelevance?  Are you happy, New Zealanders, to be playing the part (very convincingly) of a bedraggled, downtrodden serf, gazing upwards in hopeless gratitude towards the evil American overlord in his Silicon Valley castle, while he experiments lobbing mutated and genetically modified seeds into your tiny patch of land?

I, for one, am perfectly happy.  Perhaps I’ve lived here too long now and have succumbed beneath the ox yoke.  But hey, who cares?  I think it’s pretty cool actually, that we get to play around with something and if it works then, “Hurrah!  We’re early adopters, change agents, innovative pioneers!”  If it doesn’t….well no-one other than us will ever really know will they, and if we ever go abroad and someone brings it up just adopt a far away gaze and say something like, “it’s still too painful to discuss, and you’d never understand…” thereby moving the conversation on whilst gathering some sympathy and an aura of mystique along the way.

So what’s it all about?  And more importantly, is it actually going to work?  Well the premise is that you can go into the LinkedIn Profile of any of your 1st Degree connections and, scrolling down to their Skills & Expertise section, find that where there used to be a dull few lines of text, has now been transformed into a bar chart with a number of endorsements next to each skill.  If you believe that your connection does, indeed, possess the skill that they profess to, then you can hover over the number, click the “+” that appears, and your image will appear on their bar chart for that skill, increasing their number of endorsements for that skill by another one.

I had a play around with it a couple of weeks ago and endorsed a bunch of you for various skills that I honestly felt I could pin my name to.  It was fairly random as I followed LinkedIn’s suggestions of who to endorse next (so please don’t feel offended if you didn’t get one from me!) and it took about two minutes in all.  Funny thing was though, it actually prompted a couple of connections to make contact with me directly, and it elicited a new vacancy in Brisbane, and a new candidate in Wellington (sadly though, the Wellingtonian didn’t fancy the sunny lifestyle of Brisbane…that would have been the easiest bit of social recruiting ever!)

The good things about this new feature are many, in my glass-half-full opinion:

  1. It is incredibly easy to use, fun, intuitive, looks good.
  2. It is a faster way to give connections a high-five or thumbs up than the more laborious bear-hug-then-hoist-onto-shoulders-for-parade-around-town recommendations feature.
  3. It should hopefully be a step towards making people more honest on their profiles.  Sure you can claim what you like but it might ring hollow without anyone actually endorsing what you say.

However, there is always a flip side too.  How much stock are we really able to place in these endorsements?  Are they possibly too easy to give?  Especially with LinkedIn randomly prompting you to go ahead and endorse people for their skills, with the ability to click one button and endorse four of your connections for skills LinkedIn has randomly plucked from their profiles.  I mean, I’m honoured that Ann Mansard in Sydney has endorsed me for “Recruiting” but we have never met, spoken once on the phone in 2009 and I was unable to help her out at the time.  No doubt she was prompted by a clever pop-up module from LinkedIn (which by the way makes me wonder, has this been rolled out in Australia now too?) but it isn’t really valid is it?

At least with an old-fashioned “Recommendation” you know the person has had to take time to write it and it is therefore worth placing more stock in (ok don’t get me started on the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” nature of some people’s LinkedIn Recommendations though or we’ll be here all day!)  And I remember thinking it odd that the LinkedIn guy presenting at the Langham Hotel breakfast seminar a couple of weeks ago said they have done research to discover that eight LinkedIn Recommendations is the optimum number.  How does that work?  And why are they now making it seemingly too easy for people to boost their Endorsements numbers rapidly beyond this arbitrary figure?

Anyway, as you all know I’m never one to shy away from something shiny and new.  I’m all for positive change and, overall, I see this as a positive development.  Just make sure you actually have a Skills & Expertise section on your Profile Page though.  And for those of you already up and running with this, you can edit your profile and move the new section further up your profile, if you wish, by hovering over the section header and when it turns blue, dragging it northwards.

Like I’ve just done on my profile (once you view the Full Profile).  Just sayin’.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Mike Duncan says:

    It is also over here in Australia…an interesting development.

  • BW says:

    Another step on the facebook-isation of LI. Shame really. Any recommendation scheme has its pitfalls but you can generally tell a genuine recommendation when you read it. The endorsements feature is certaintly eye catching but it has no substance.

  • Kelly B says:

    Yeah, am already guilty of the vague, “i think theyre good at that” endorsement… being fairly newly active on linkedIn I thought this was part the profile completion stage(s)… will be a bit more selective who i actually endorse from now on though!  Thanks for your insight.
    Oh, and thanks for this tidbit too: “sadly though, the Wellingtonian didn’t fancy the sunny lifestyle of Brisbane…that would have been the easiest bit of social recruiting ever!” Gold.

  • Graeme says:

    I have just received my first endorsement.

    Unfortunately it was from a recruiter I am connected with but have never met so it has 0 credibility. 🙁