Which is better, LinkedIn Recommendations or LinkedIn Endorsements?

A little over a week ago, LinkedIn debuted Endorsements, which they’re touting as a professional version of the Facebook Like. Connections in your account can endorse you using the skills and expertise section of your profile (which you need to fill out if you haven’t already) or submit their own:

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But the question remains, which is better?

The answer is, unsurprisingly: neither. Both are equally important in different ways.

Endorsements are important, especially as part of the skills and expertise section, because LinkedIn’s tie-ins with corporate HR systems allow hiring managers to rapidly search profiles for needed skills. The fact that people can now vote for your skills likely adds some additional back-end data to those enterprise systems. More broadly, people looking to hire you can evaluate what your peers think you’re good at with a single glance. One look above at my profile should hopefully convey that I have capability in various areas of digital marketing.

Recommendations are important as visible testimonials of your work, especially at individual positions. They’re sales testimonials in the best possible way, a way that highlights what you can do and what results you’ve generated in the words of others. They’re fodder for resumes, speaking kits, and much more. They’re longer than just the single clicks of endorsements, and are incredibly valuable.

Ideally, you can and should gather both. I think they’re valuable to different audiences, too. I am very conservative when it comes to writing endorsements; we need to have worked together in a professional capacity for some time in order for me to honestly pen words about what you’re capable of in a manner that I can back up. If someone called me and asked if what I wrote about you in a recommendation was true, I’d want to be able to say, absolutely.

Endorsements are a different beast. I think they’re valuable for people you haven’t worked with but you know by reputation or content. You can still publicly support them, but you don’t have to put words to it in the same fashion as recommendations.

Solicit both when warranted – solicit recommendations from people who can honestly and authentically write powerful words to support you, and ask for endorsements from people who get value from what you do but don’t necessarily have that long professional relationship to offer deeper insight.

Of course, being a marketer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to endorse or recommend my profile if you’ve gotten value from what I do. Please click here to head over to the profile and then choose whichever avenue you think best represents the value I’ve helped you with.


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  • http://twitter.com/BobGarrett Bob Garrett

    Hey Chris – really enjoyed your presentation at PodCampEast this weekend. I wished I had thought of getting a couple pics of you/me for my blog. Thanks again for attending – good stuff

    • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • http://twitter.com/C_Pappas Christina Pappas

    I see the value in both but I believe a recommendation is stronger. Not only does this validate your skills, but it takes more effort than clicking a button which makes it feel more genuine. Anyone can list a bunch of skills they have and any of us can go checking boxes to ‘validate’ they have them. It just seems less trustworthy to me.

  • http://twitter.com/UrbanRenstrom Urban Renstrom

    Recommendation are stronger, well they take more effort to do. An endorsement is maybe equal to a FB like – one click and your done. Granted the circle of people on LinkedIn is smaller compared to FB. But…
    Is the endorsement a transactional purchase and recommendation a relationship purchase?

    • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

      They’re both social currency, so they’re both relationship. One is weaker than the other, to me.

  • http://thenovel.me/ Pavel Konoplenko

    Excellent points and definitely agree on most of them.

    2 things: I feel more comfortable asking for a recommendation than an endorsement – endorsements seem to be a more spontaneous action, but that’s just me. Also, endorsements feel like LinkedIn’s answer to Klout’s K+. I mean it’s not inconceivable for LinkedIn to start “grading” people for industry given their skills and expertise. I could be just thinking way outside the box though.

    • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

      I think it’s exactly a +K or Like play.

  • http://twitter.com/alisa_m_ Alisa Manjarrez

    Hi, Chris. Do you have any recommendations on how to thank people for endorsements on linkedin? I feel an obligation to endorse back, but I’d only do that if I truly wanted to endorse them. Just wondering if you think any particular protocols might emerge…thanks.

  • http://btrandolph.com btrandolph

    I have to disagree with your assessment of endorsements, especially when you state that an endorsement can be made for people with whom you haven’t worked but “know by reputation or content.” In saying that HR departments can use endorsements to screen candidates, are you also recommending that businesses return to using Facebook Likes as a defining measure of engagement?

  • http://twitter.com/mathewlowry mathewlowry

    Recommedations never led to LI being gamed, and thus debased, something Endorsements will inevitably lead to. They’re a mistake – worse than useless, and will be traded like +Ks. Smart recruiters will know to ignore them.