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Liz Ryan Headshot

That LinkedIn Endorsement Will Hurt You

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Dear Liz,

I've been building my LinkedIn profile and adding connections (thirty so far!). I have written to several of my former bosses and co-workers for LinkedIn endorsements and so far six of them have come through. How many LinkedIn endorsements should I try to collect?

Thanks,

Andrew

LIZ REPLIES:

Dear Andrew,

I wouldn't say there's an ideal number of LinkedIn recommendations. The content of the recommendation (also called an endorsement) is more important than just racking up the numbers.

I zipped over to your LinkedIn profile when I got your message, and I'm concerned about the recommendations you've got on your profile right now. Your last three jobs were Inventory Manager, Buyer/Planner and Production Planner -- three sturdy, Knowledge-Worker type assignments, but your endorsements are written for someone at a much lower level. For instance:

"Andrew completed his tasks in a timely manner and showed diligence in his work."

Yikes, Andrew! That's the kind of thing you'd write for a three-week summer intern you never actually had the opportunity to speak with, and then only if you were pressed for time. I would delete that half-assed endorsement and get one from someone who can actually speak about you with heart. Here is another endorsement from your profile that needs to be 86ed right now:

"I worked closely with Andrew in this role and found him to be punctual and conversant in production issues."

Both of these recommendation-writers sound like they've just graduated from a 19th-century English boarding school, or they're just prigs in general. Both of them sound like they're either trying to depress your brand for reasons of their own, or they simply don't know how to write a compelling sentence.

Could you get someone to write something like this about you?:

"Andrew is the guy to have in your corner when production schedules are insane, you're introducing new products faster than you can get them into the system and some sales VP is screaming for your head. He's incredibly smart, hard-working, and flexible, and saved our team from disaster more times than I can count. A very easy guy to work with, I'd hire Andrew again in a second."

Recommendations don't have any force except the words in them and the credibility of the people who wrote them. When a recommendation is as dry, cursory and low-level as "Andrew got his work done and showed up on time" the reader gets a bad feeling both about the endorser and (more importantly for you) the endorsee. I'd scratch those weak endorsements and start over, getting the people who really know you to take a minute and write something pithy and human about what you brought to each job.

Best,

Liz