About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Linkedin Endorsements...FEH!

I read over on Matt Conlon's page his opinion about a new "fad" that's hit the professional social page Linkedin of late. It's called "endorsements". He has a great explanation about it, and why it sits so poorly with him; read it here, on his blog.

Essentially, these endorsements are intended to be exactly what they sound like: one professional is stating in a rather public fashion that it is their professional opinion that THIS PERSON is very good at THIS SKILL.

As a "for instance", I have skills listed on my profile of Product Verification, Risk Management, ISO 14971, and many others that are relevant for the work that I've done these past decades. I don't recall adding all of these, although when this feature first popped up on my radar, I did add one or two (or ten).

It's a great idea.

But the implementation sucks.

Linkedin has made this endorsement scheme pretty much exactly like (how I understand) FaceBook's "like" button.

Click. Done.

This has become a problem for me, and for many other professionals (like Matt) because it's too easy.

What I think of as the perfect example:

I had gotten endorsements from people with whom I worked, and I knew that they knew my abilities in (for instance) Risk Management. Great: they think I'm pretty good at that. Thanks! Let me wander over to your profile and endorse you for (for instance) Electronics Design, as I have worked with you while you designed things that I subsequently broke. You're pretty darn good at your Electronics Design work, and I say so.

Then I got an endorsement or two from people with whom I'm friends, but with whom I've never worked. What the huh!?!? How, exactly, do you know that I'm good at basket weaving? Well, I suppose that they, as a friend, decided that I'm a relatively smart fellow, and I've been basket weaving ever since I set Moses afloat in that stream so long ago...they up and endorsed me because they know my character, and know that I wouldn't lie about such a thing. I MUST be good at it.

Then I got endorsements from a person that I know from professional groups that I have belonged to at one point or another. We'll call him "Racer X".

This one puzzled me, and I considered it to be that person just looking to be a good doobie, and telling the world that I'm a stand-up guy. Ok...sort of defeats the purpose of the endorsement thing, but ok.

Then Racer X endorsed me for something else the following day. I looked into his profile, and saw that he is currently unemployed. OK...he's scrounging around Linkedin for job leads, and my ugly face popped up in front of him, and the easiest way for him to keep from puking at the sight of me was to hit "endorse". Go away, thou foul visage.

Should I run out and endorse Racer X? I've never worked with him. One thing that matters to me is my reputation. All the dirty stuff that I do, I do behind closed doors, with a great deal of plausible deniability and no witnesses (and spoofed IP adresses). My name is, thus far, pretty darn clean. I like to think that in my professional circles, my name carries the wind of honor and dignity. No, really...it does.

Then the next day he endorsed me again. Something's up here.

That day, I got a call from one of the Directors in my company's Quality Assurance department. "Hi, Throckmorton." Said he. "We're currently interviewing a person for the position of Progress Slower-Downer, and this fellow appears to know you...can you tell me anything about Racer X?"

Aaahhh...Sokath, his eyes uncovered! (That there's a Star Trek reference...you might have to look it up!).

NOW I understand: Racer X is looking for a job in my company, and he's clearly hoping that, if he endorses me, I will reciprocate and endorse him back! Well, hell.

This is irritating to me, to say the least. These sorts of endorsements mean nothing at all to me. AND, they serve to dilute the value of legitimate endorsements. It makes the whole scheme a useless pile of fertilizer.

If someone wants endorsements or recommendations from me, there are basically two guiding principals by which I oblige:

  • I have to know you, and have direct experience with your ability in the specific skill for which I am endorsing you;
  • I have to like you (which basically means that you're a stand up guy or gal who always tries to do your best in the interest of the company / project and the people with whom you're working);
My name, my reputation, means something to me, and I will protect it. I have, more than once, told people calling me for references for people whom they are interviewing to NOT hire certain folks. When these folks ask me if I'll be a reference for them, I do tell them that I might not be the best choice.

I have, more than once, written and provided glowing references for people of high character and fiber. I will do everything that I can to help a person who wants to work well and actually earn what they get.

This brings to mind some lyrics of a song, which bounce through my mind every now and then, and have since high school:

Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give you answers that you want me to.
~Fleetwood Mac (apparently...but could be "The Rockets"...Google seems a little confused about that)

At the very least, if you want a reference from me, make sure that you know that I know that you are a person that I would want to work with, and whom I trust to work to the best of your abilities for the company, and for the people around you. I will praise you from the highest mountain in these cases.

As for Linkedin's Endorsements: FEH! I think that I may just go out and see if I can disable that feature.


  1. There should be an app for that lol.

  2. I know, right?!?! :)

    After I wrote this, I logged into my Linkedin profile and deleted all of the skills that I had associated with my profile. Now my profile is incomplete. :(

    Maybe the Linkedin staff is reading all of these critiques of their system.

  3. Not for nothing... (I hate that saying.)

    Be careful with bad referrals. If said person finds out that he or she didn't get the job due to a bad referral you gave, they CAN sue, at least here in the mighty state of MA...

    I was told by my last HR person, if someone who I cannot endorse puts me down as a reference, the only safe thing to say is "I would rather not comment on that question.

    1. True, Dat. I generally only give those sorts of recommendations in one of two circumstances: a) To friends who are looking to hire people with whom I've worked, and wouldn't myself hire; 2) To people with whom I currently work who are looking to hire into my company or organization, and are interviewing people with whom I've worked, and wouldn't myself hire.

      Treacherous slope though!

  4. I've only imteracted with this once, and that was a notice telling me I'd been endorsed as a proofreader by a reporter whose 2 freelance articles I'd edited a long time back. Since then, I've deleted any email from Linked In. All of these interweb things are a royal pain in the ass. I'm retired. Leave me alone to burp and shuffle around in slippers.