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Data on the uselessness of LinkedIn endorsements (interviewing.io)
354 points by leeny on Feb 27, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

Your analysis is extremely flawed.

I really appreciate your sharing the data with us and I like your service. But, this is a poorly done and a far from subtle plug of your business at the cost of LinkedIn.

1) Technical ability vs # of endorsements

Jesus. Hiding stats that you don't like through aggregations? And please read up on Simspons Paradox, which is clearly the case here just by looking at your plot. Try a basic t-test, or rather some statistical rigor, the next time you try to make conclusions from data.

2) Most endorsed vs Language of Choice

As pointed out, this is not the way to frame your problem. By obfuscating what's happening in your histogram (which isn't technically constructued right either) you are again hiding what you dont like through aggregation. By the way, language matters greatly here, and you'd have benefitted by standardization.

3) Your conclusion

"After running some significance testing, though" and not posting your results or methodology, which is at best questionable after reading your analysis.

Again, I enjoy your service, but blog posts on technical ability that are ironically lacking in technical ability don't really make me want to come back.

PS: A little birdie told me that endorsements are quite strong in predictive power for jobs :)

Here's another, even worse example:

> It turns out that people’s interview language of choice matched their most endorsed language on LinkedIn just under 50% of the time, so, you know, just slightly worse than flipping a coin.

A coin has 2 sides. How many programming languages are there, again?

I read that as flipping a coin to predict if the most-endorsed language will be the language of choice in an interview. I make no claim to the statistical usefulness of such a statement.

Yeah reading that made me realise the whole article is just spam.

language of choice == linkedin endorsed lang -> {TRUE,FALSE}

Yet if there was no relationship between the two entities and there were N languages, one would expect the random probability of TRUE to be N/N^2 = 1/N.

Although, the writer doesn't seem to allege that he's comparing to random or anything like that.

Yeah, that's exactly how I meant it. But I agree it's confusing. Will remove the comparison right now.

And the variables are measuring different things - you'd expect the most endorsed language to mirror the language that you have the most experience in during your (possibly very long) career, and there's no reason to suppose that it should match your current language of choice (which quite likely is more modern than what you used 10 years ago) more than 50% of the time; no matter how (un)reliable endorsements are, this isn't a valid argument against them.

And what's the distribution over the languages, in terms of 'preferred interview programming language'?

People overwhelmingly chose one language to interview in, so there wasn't much fo a distribution.

Unless you mean which languages are most popular?

> which languages are most popular?

Is there any other (reasonable) way to interpret that question?

Wasn't sure if you were asking that independently of endorsements.

Right now, the most heavily used languages on interviewing.io are Java, Python, JavaScript, and C++ (in that order).

Ruby, C#, and Go are in the middle.

At the bottom are Perl and PHP.

Author here. I appreciate the notes and am happy to revisit and make corrections when needed. To respond to your points:

1. As a sanity check, I did do a t-test of technical ability vs. # of endorsements before publishing. There is no statistically significant relationship between the 2. (P < 0.335)

2. What do you mean by "language matters here" (re the histogram)?

After reading the way in which your work is being criticized (regardless of the validity of the criticisms), I'm very impressed to see you here making lemonade of it all. I'd be crying in the corner if it were me. Good work.

Do you mean that you fit a simple linear model, of the form below?

ability = b0 + b1*endorsements + error

And when you say t-test, are you saying you did a t-test for the parameter b1?

Usually when people refer to a t-test, without more information, they are saying they tested the difference of means between two groups. (or one mean against a number).

See, for example, the Wikipedia article on t-tests: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student's_t-test

> Do you mean that you fit a simple linear model, of the form below?

That would be the form of the best-fit line in the scatterplot. (and it would make sense to assume that the t-test refers to b1 != 0, as there is only one group)

Edit: on second thought, you're probably right. I think I was too off the cuff in responding. Left original response below.

If by best fit you mean minimizing sum squared error, that's fair.

But to be sure, if someone said t-test, and they only had one group, I would first guess they were doing a one-sample t-test.

Even with two dependent variables and one group, I would think over whether they did a dependent t-test.

I figured it was a simple linear model (in this case a correlation) because they mentioned that they tested the relationship, and it makes sense, but it seems important to sanity check the use of the term t-test, which can be highly ambiguous (and I have seen used in very surprising ways).

Hope it was helpful.

It's unclear what you t-tested here. Ideally, you would test for difference between groups of "Is there a difference in number of endorsements between people who got a "yes" in advancing to the next round or not". As a followup, is there a difference between those who's preferred was most endorsed or not?

I'm a bit stunned that you didn't recognize Language as programming language...... :(

As an example, people probably get endorsed for SQL or CSS far more than their programming language of choice that is tested in an interview.

What do you mean re not recognizing language as a programming language? We only counted actual programming languages, i.e. not SQL, HTML, CSS, etc.

IMO, abusing endorsements like this isn't very useful. At best, it's sort of replaces some attribute of a reference. Endorsement is really feedback to validate the field that somebody works in and is probably not a bozo.

If you're interviewing a mid-career programmer, and her endorsements are all for accounting and financial related things, you may have a fit issue to explore. Likewise, if you have a candidate with 200 connections and 3 endorsements, and that's atypical for the industry, you may want to focus more heavily on real reference checking.

Seriously, I'm not sure how they can even pretend to have reached that conclusion. It would require interviewing random LinkedIn users without endorsements (including ones with no technical ability at all) and then rating them.

I certainly think that LinkedIn endorsements aren't exactly a meaningful metric. But they're not meant to be. They're just a simple tool for finding people who can even nominally program.

Does your little birdie have data?

Seriously, not sure how you can criticize someone for their methodology and then throw in a super weird appeal to authority with no support

Agreed. This post would be okay if there wasn't so much "we crunched the numbers" talk, and then very perplexing reporting.

> And please read up on Simspons Paradox, which is clearly the case here just by looking at your plot.

What is the instance of Simpson's paradox (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox) in the scatterplot? There are skews on both X and Y axes, but I don't see disparate trends.

Would faceting by preferred language/experience/LinkedIn age show different trends in this context?

If you breakup the plot by any number of categories of technical ability, then there are trends. But to your question, what I was suggesting was that the aggregations done, especially with categorical data that is averaged, are very susceptible to this. And those clusters are reminiscent of situations like this:


I'd more so like to see this analyzed against who got to the next round (their binary signal), or yes against preferred language, which I suspect will be much more telling.

The takeaway from that plot is, there is more to the story.

As someone interested in data science, I am curious to know more: could you elaborate on your points?

Sassy, but I'll allow it.

In their quest to copy Facebook's formula for professional networking, LI's growth/engagement team makes a huge effort in promoting users to endorse their connections.

As a result, nearly all the endorsements on my LI have come from non-technical folks who just know buzzwords (e.g. python was my most-endorsed skill even even though this isn't my most used language by far, and any engineer taking a quick glance at my projects -- almost all native C/C++/ObjC -- would realize it. Now I'm getting lots of pitches for python gigs...)

If there was a way to (optionally) approve an endorsement beforehand, that would help.

Actually, LinkedIn endorsements have to be accepted by the endorsee before appearing on their profile. This has always been the case, I know because I haven't accepted endorsements for `Cascading Stylesheets`, but for `CSS`.

Endorsements for skills you HAVEN'T listed must be accepted, but if you have a skill listed, anybody can endorse it for you. I think that's what OP meant - he had Python on there because maybe he knew a bit about it, and a bunch of randos just clicked the + next to it.

that's more on the fact that linkedIn asks "does x know y" rather than "here's a list of skills, select which is more applicable".

I also agree though, people randomly endorse stuff. I see D.o.D. all the time or Security Clearance. What does that even mean? That's not a skill as much as, hey I worked there, or hey I have one.

You have the ability to hide specific endorsements - for instance, if someone endorses me for a skill that they don't actually know that I know, LinkedIn provides the ability to hide that person's endorsement.

Hah, I agree, I think I removed some endorsements or something to the effect, maybe I just removed the skill the endorsements where aggregating under. Now LI keeps harassing me that I have pending endorsements to display or something to that effect. Endorsements do feel really phony to me so far, maybe in the long run endorsements at the end of a career would have a different look.

We at NetIn take a different approach, we look at open source languages you've written your code in and what skills other engineers at your organization are known for before we rank you for a given skill.

Yeah but I bet you still endorsed Cindy/Bob from accounting for Excel. It's a noisy metric but it survives through social and professional motivations.

You actually have to accept the endorsement before it shows up on your profile, if you accept noise, I don't think you can complain that your profile is noisy.

I meant noisy in terms of accuracy in all universes.

I've been considering just deleting my LI account. It essentially has just been a sink for terrible recruiter mail; in 12 years of having an account I don't think I've once received any sort of actionable message through it.

I've also turned off the endorsements because I was just getting driveby endorsements for things like J2EE.

Is there a job-search downside to deleting your account, provided you have a decent Google cross section otherwise via conference talks, blog, github, etc?

I can't tell if LinkedIn has marketed itself into an actual perception that not having an account means you don't care about career or the like.

I am personally astonished that LinkedIn is still a thing. For me, it was the most obviously useless of all the social networks and it was the first one I deleted, upwards of 7 years ago now.

The other social networks eventually followed but LinkedIn just gave me zero value from day one. It was nothing but recruiter spam. Do people actually get work and jobs out of LinkedIn? Or is is just a way to keep up with what old coworkers are doing? I frankly do not get it.

Here's an opposite perspective. I get plenty of value out of LinkedIn, both in personal and in business.

Personally, it's a great business card replacement. If I'm at networking events, conferences, etc. I also prefer to have my personal (Facebook) and business (LinkedIn) networks separate since I use them for very different purposes. On occasion, I've also leveraged groups to get specific advice I wasn't easily able to find elsewhere.

In running my company, LinkedIn also creates a quick talent pipeline and allows candidates to get a rough understanding of who will be interviewing them so we don't need to spend precious interview time answering their questions about our backgrounds.

I don't know of any replacements that do all of these things under one roof reasonable well. I do know of a few individual tools that offer incremental improvements over what LinkedIn offers, particularly in the area of finding qualified candidates, but in other areas (ex. digital business card) LinkedIn is the only real game in town.

> Do people actually get work and jobs out of LinkedIn? Or is is just a way to keep up with what old coworkers are doing?

Yes because yes. When I last looked for a job, I poked around LinkedIn to see who was working at companies that I found interesting, got a former co-worker to refer me for his new place, and got a job there.

> Do people actually get work and jobs out of LinkedIn? Or is is just a way to keep up with what old coworkers are doing? I frankly do not get it.

Yes. Multiple times.

As someone who has only gotten recruiter spam from LI: Was it worth sifting through all the spam? I've personally never known anyone who has gotten a job with them, so from where I sit it seems like a lot of work for no payoff. I'm curious as to your experience, though.

Got a job at MS via LinkedIn, as well as my current job, which I really enjoy.

I ignore recruiters if I even get a hint that they're not employed directly by the company they're purporting to be with. It's become less of an issue within the last year or so.

One time I even got recruiter spam on LinkedIn from LinkedIn.

I've been on LI similarly as long... I get some of the ire, but when I see comments like this I wonder if I'm in some extreme minority.

I don't get pelted with a ton of messages - maybe a dozen a month at most, and maybe 1/2 of them are actual ops I could be interested in/are applicable to my skillset. I've had several interviews which originated from a LI message - easily over a dozen, and I may have landed a job in the past this way (can't remember unfortunately). This is sharply contrasted with my experience during the .com days upon graduating college - I would get 2-3 daily calls from recruiters for all sorts of things.

Unsure if it's because I'm older, more skilled, have a note that I'm busy on my LI intro, or what... but I have a relatively in demand skillset (Rails/React dev) and am getting messages for quality leads, even quite a few for remote gigs (I have a note that I prefer remote work).

How much do you value your professional time at? How long does it take you to read, comprehend, and respond to 12 recruiter spams a month? Take that dollar figure and imagine what you could buy with it after 6 months!

No one is forcing you to read them, and certainly not to respond. If I'm not looking for work I don't respond. It's seriously maybe 5 minutes per month of my life to skim the job postings which come through my inbox.

As I alluded to above - my life prior to LI had far time sunk due to being badgered by recruiters.

It's like 1h/y. You can handle that sitting on the toilet. You can literally filter out to solid leads while pooping. Why the derision?

I just deleted my LinkedIn account. I obtained zero of my last few jobs from using LinkedIn (at least primarily), and I got 'recruiters' contacting me for initial screens that led nowhere, I think because they don't really know how to filter down to what their client needs very well.

I would compulsively check my account however, and felt the need to respond to all kinds of messages I got on there in some form or fashion. When I took an honest look at the time I put into using it and what I actually got out of it, it was clear for me it was a time sink with no reward other than 'feeling like I'm doing something to help my career' when I could have spent all that time actually doing something that mattered to me.

Edit: If a company won't hire me due to not having a LinkedIn account, I guess that's a downside, however I don't see how a profile there is much better information than a resume I've prepared.

Not having a LinkedIn account would be definitely a red flag for many companies. However you have the control to display as much information as you're comfortable with on your profile.

Why? I have had same thought as op. Even as an address buck of loose employee connections it feels pretty useless. A lot of people I might want to ask for a recommendation or advice on a role, I would probably reach out over Facebook or email since it feels more sincere and so much is lost in the recruitment noise on linkedin, especially for software people.

Haven't had a linkedin profile like OP for a long time. Never had any issues finding a job or getting interviews. Stackoverflow careers CV page is my resume and the contacts that come through Stackoverflow are consistently of high quality.

I deleted mine a few years ago, after some idiot tried to recruit me over my work phone. No regrets whatsoever.

Recruiter spam dropped off. The couple of recruiters who were actually any good still send me an email and/or a call once a year to find out if I'm looking for anything. So I don't feel like I lost anything.

I completely agree if you are purely an employee. It has no use other than to bother you. However, I've found in consulting work, I sometimes get these random gems where companies want my skillset and are willing to pay very high hourly for it on an as needed basis. Worked out well in those scenarios.

I've tried to use LI as a recruiting tool (as a hiring manager and as a team member of the person being hired). I've even paid for an upgraded subscription once in a while.

Worthless. Craigs List is cheaper and far more effective, with a well-written help wanted ad.

Opposite of my experience. LinkedIn gave me a massive scope over engineers, with better filters than any of the many other sites we were using.

What kind of recruiter waits for responses to their help ad?

You wont receive as many recruiting emails. I only recruited via linkedin for a while because the way I saw it is that anyone with an account is at least passively interested in hearing from me. If someone didn't have a linkedin I didn't take the time to track them down.

That being said many (including myself) recruiters now use other sites to find developers. But it's definitely less than the amount who just search linkedin. It doesn't seem like you were getting very good emails from recruiters to begin with so it may not be an issue for you to get rid of your account.

It's not too hard to change LI privacy setting to basically never receive recruiter spam.

Up until the LinkedIn redesign a few weeks ago, I used to run a bit of javascript every day that would pick a 100 people randomly on my LinkedIn "friends list" and endorse them for one of their listed skills that I hadn't already endorsed them for.

Every time I did that, it caused about 20% of the people to view my profile, which gamed my LinkedIn statistics so my profile was ranked higher in various searches.

I haven't rewritten the script since their redesign, but I'll get to it soon.

Wow, that's an ingenious hack that makes a lot of sense in hindsight. What was your thought process and how did it lead to that? Was it solving a similar problem in another domain?

> Wow, that's an ingenious hack that makes a lot of sense in hindsight. What was your thought process and how did it lead to that? Was it solving a similar problem in another domain?

I've read your comment thrice and have not been able to understand it! It's starts out mildly reasonable, then drifts out into bot-territory

I'm mildly offended that you trivialized my comment. I'm even more confused because I believe my questions are completely valid, and you're not taking them at face value.

To rephrase:

Have you ever encountered a flash of insight that seemed to approach a challenge from a completely different angle? It could be something like someone solving a deeply technical problem in a non-technical way, or the first time you were introduced to affordance [1].

This is similar. Instead of the obvious solution of injecting buzzwords into his LinkedIn profile, deftnerd did a social hack that nudged his own connections towards viewing his profile, equivalently boosting his visibility.

What I meant by my questions is that I'm interested in learning both the flash of insight and the thought process that led to that. Sometimes the reason is as bland as accumulated knowledge (but even then, what knowledge?). But if not, maybe I can learn a completely new perspective from which to approach a whole class of problems.

[1] https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-affordances/answe...

Thank you for rephrasing your question. I'll admit that I didn't fully understand your query the first time either.

I am, by nature, a hacker. I often search for unconventional solutions to problems, even when conventional solutions are already available. It's a form of thought exercise.

I take great joy in brainstorming problems and not stopping even when the solution presents itself.

For example, housing for refugees might result in coming up with plans for flatpack structures, designing automated machinery to manufacture bricks, to research on genetically modifying gourds to grow large enough to be able to be harvested and turned into structures.

As a child, I hoped to work for a think tank one day but the opportunity never presented itself. Instead I attempt to build small automated micro-businesses whenever a new idea captures my interest.

Apologies -- I could have phrased it better. Your explanation above provides clear context for your original question.

A bit late, but apology accepted! =)

I guess this is a HN version of generic instagram comments used by bots (like "nice pic! where it was made?")

Great idea. Essentially the same approach as like bots on Instagram. Have you considered doing more targeted endorsing — for example, endorsing people in a skill you want to be endorsed in? I've had people do this manually before.

I have thought of that, but my skills weren't good enough at the time.

This is my old (now unworking) code: https://gist.github.com/DeftNerd/4abf63c7d0e680d62a2cd26d534...

It was able to pull from an API of "Suggested endorsements" so I could run it from one page. That "Suggested Endorsements" API endpoint doesn't seem to be around anymore.

I'm going to rebuild using Selenium. It's heavier, but it'll be easier for me to script actions across page clicks and I can run it headless as a cron job.

When writing LinkedIn profiles for my resume and coaching clients, I advise them to turn endorsements "off". Under the Skills section is a "Adjust Endorsement Settings" listing that you can click to turn it off.

Endorsements tend to be just extra noise with all those pictures, and on many profiles there is rather important information (education, projects, etc.) below the skills section. You don't want your reader getting lost in the endorsements before getting to some useful info.

Serious question: what exactly does a resume coach do? Do they just maintain a good resume for me?

To clarify "resume and coaching clients", I'm a resume writer, and I also do quite a bit of coaching/consulting one-on-one for people (mostly software engineers) on career topics. Job search strategies, how to position themselves for a next level in a career, etc.

I'm not a "resume coach", and I'm also not sure what one would do if they exist. I'm a resume writer, and I also coach.

Having previously spent 8 years as a technical recruiter, and now working as a Sr. Software Engineer, I can say generally speaking that dev resume should be general enough that anyone in the recruitment pipeline should be able to look at it, and make enough sense of the information that they could make a reasonable decision about whether interviewing you for a given position would feel like a good use of time.

I'd hope a resume coach would help work towards selling yourself to all parties involved in considering you for a position you'd actually want.

BLUF: A good one will help your résumé navigate the often opaque and misaligned fiefdom that is corporate HR.

Long version: If they have significant and current experience with hiring processes (especially in your industry), they'll be able to help you with everything from how to word and structure it to maximize your odds of getting through the automated filters nearly every big company uses these days, to figuring out (based on job postings) what the hiring company's HR department is going to care about. Which is often different from what the person doing the actual hiring will care about, but you need to satisfy both.

They also have visibility into other aspects (salary, titles, mobility) that recruiters often can be helpful with, too, but I've found recruiters sometimes have their incentives somewhat misaligned with those of their clients (e.g., like a real estate agent who makes more money if they focus on turnover over deal size, so the homeowner isn't happy to get $15K less for their house than they could, recruiters make their cut when someone gets hired for anything, at any salary, and a small percentage of a salary that's 10% lower is less of a concern to them than being 10% underpaid is to you), whereas a résumé consultant's job is to do their part to ensure you get the interview.

I run a couple businesses and therefore don't really have a résumé myself, but I've probably referred a total of a half people (friends, relatives, and people moving on from my employ to better things) to a close friend who is a résumé consultant, and they in turn have referred many multiples of that, given how happy they were with the results. Virtually all got interviews with the companies they wanted to. (Of course, a good résumé consultant will also tell you when you're completely on-paper-unqualified to enter that job via traditional means.)

I consider myself a fairly capable person, but seeing the work of a highly talented résumé consultant made me realize that that's just not an area I (or the vast majority of most people) are adept at navigating.

It's sort of like hiring an attorney to handle a legal matter one could technically handle without being an attorney. Sure, if you already have a talent for that kind of thing, and are willing to spend at least hundreds of hours working in that field, you'd probably be able to take care of that one task fairly easily, but anything short of that and it's far better to pay an expert.

A few hundred bucks to put one's résumé into the top few-percent of applications is money very well spent.

As my background is in recruiting (which is quite helpful in resume writing), this is well put overall. A resume writers is just trying to position you as best as possible to get in the door, whereas a recruiter typically is just trying to get everyone in the door.

The thing I like about resume writing and coaching is that it's 100% focused on helping an individual job seeker, and there are no misaligned incentives.

Not sure linkedin really cares if the endorsements are accurate or not. I heard endorsements were / are massively successful at re engaging users, which is the real aim of the product.

My experience has been that my friends and I troll each other by submitting endorsements for irrelevant things like "Microsoft Office" or "Public Speaking." I usually spend a few minutes on LinkedIn when this happens, so this is consistent with your point.

After being contacted through LinkedIn for an entry level PHP job in Spain (I don't use PHP nor do I speak Spanish and I have nearly 20 years of experience) my colleagues decided to endorse me for both PHP and Spanish--so I can absolutely relate. :)

Huh. We sent straight to "whale fondler" and "yogurt cheffing" [sic]. Guess that's finance for you.

yeah, i still get jquery endorsements once in a while from my more tech-savvy buddies.

> Not sure linkedin really cares if the endorsements are accurate or not.

Of course LinkedIn doesn't care. The very idea of endorsements is broken beyond repair, because it allows people to say that some guy knows something they've never had an opportunity to see him working with.

Just as a test I added "laughter yoga" as one of my skills to my LinkedIn profile. So far it's received 5 endorsements.

Proof: https://www.linkedin.com/in/austenallred/

At the time of this writing, I have been endorsed for the following skills:

Fly-bagging (10) Squirrels (10) Walking (8) Fierce Conversations (9) Rhinoplasty (2) Puns (3)

Maybe your endorsers thought you meant Squirrel-lang? (files of which end in .nut)

Drinking Water is my first listed skill. I turn off the number so no one can see it but over 55 people have endorsed me for it.

I remember making several comments over the years about that on LinkedIn asking why endorsements were relevant. Recruiters or IT companies looking for favors would randomly give me credit for skills they had no idea I was capable of or not. In the beginning I would message them back saying "You don't even know me, why are you endorsing me?" and people would be surprised like it was rude or something like they were doing me a favor with bullshit endorsements.

After that, I just cared only about getting recommendations from CEOs and CTOs etc. on LinkedIn. These actually are useful and are a true marker of your reputation. Endorsements need to be completely overhauled or abandoned. They have the potential to be cool if somehow there were rep points that could be distributed for the given skill set that people were actually qualified in to give but that would be way too complicated for most people to even understand or care about.

When the endorsement flood first hit, I thought it was a truly awful and intrusive idea. I created an Unwanted Endorsement Recipient... skill? I don't remember exactly how it works. I know I've been endorsed for it a few times now, though I long ago turned off endorsement emails so I'm not sure.

It's just an engagement growth hack by LI. I understand why they did it, but I think it's short term gain for long term risk of irrelevance (of LI itself; endorsements are already irrelevant). Which, for a social network, is the biggest existential threat.

Totally. Your comment is particularly relevant to me as I'm building my own social network and have to see blunders of others and avoid them like the plague.

I've been endorsed for sarcasm on linked in. When friends want to tease, we endorse each other for things like ms-dos and j2ee it's beautiful.

My top endorsements are for trolling, Starcraft, and food. I've also received endorsements for "Brute Force Algorithms" and "Inefficient Android Layouts." Truly... highlights of my career!

"Healing Touch" is another fun one.

Ima steal this one. Too good.

When endorsements came out, some friends and I discovered that you could endorse people for violent crimes.

Yes, you too can endorse your connections for murder, kidnapping, and terrorism.

I distinctly remember "Homicide", which is actually a specialty intended for attorneys working in criminal law.


Endorsement for PHP?

"If you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand!"

I think that's the best use of them yet.

I believe endorsements on LI are fake. I'm receiving endorsements for random things from my former and current co-workers and I know for sure they never sent any (either because I asked them or I know it's entirely outside their expertise).

Yes, I've seen this too. 4 people allegedly endorsed me for Clojure, and only one of them, when asked, even knew what it was. None could recall having clicked the button.

And I allegedly endorsed someone for "TeamCity" before I knew what it was!

Either they're faking the data or their UI design is negligent-to-malicious levels of bad.

> know for sure

I am not sure about anything on LI page - it so full of dark patterns that spamming random people with invites is always at most 2 clicks away. It might be similar with endorsements.

LinkedIn is highly focused on metrics of user engagement. Endorsements motivate a lot of engagement by providing a low-effort way for users to articulate generally positive information about each other. Although skill endorsements could be shaped into something more rigorous and useful, that conflicts with engagement/virality goals which call for easy ways to quickly message dozens of contacts.

In other words, no kidding endorsements are useless. That isn't the point.

I have endorsements for "potato salad" and "teenage paranormal romance".

My potato salad is pretty good. My twilight fanfic, however, only deserves endorsement because I have not yet written any.

I read these articles until I get to the first major methodological problem. In this case, it is this claim:

"It turns out that people’s interview language of choice matched their most endorsed language on LinkedIn just under 50% of the time, so, you know, just slightly worse than flipping a coin."

That would only be true if there were only two programming languages.

We thought of that too and tried to see how often people were endorsed for their language of choice vs. their most endorsed language. Keep reading? (You can scroll down to where the gray histogram is.)

Sorry, I don't understand the histogram at all either.

Threatening to endorse a colleague for PHP was a popular way of trolling at a recent workplace. Childish, but amusing.

Love it.

Without trying to blow my own horn too hard here, I've never really taken these all that seriously and have strongly thought that people who have more (serious) recommendations are often the most useless people.

Screenshot: http://m.imgur.com/uyXXEPl

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewjohnmcgrath/ [my recommendations]

Thank you for posting this. I love this idea! It could demonstrate one's personality in an unexpected way.

You're welcome.

I want to say that is how it started, but honestly I think I was just annoyed at people who had never worked closely with me endorsing me for "The Cloud", so I intentionally added some stupid things in the hope they'd prove to me once and for all they actually didn't know anything about me.

My profile has been like this for years now...one day when I actually want to do something different, I look forward to it acting as an automatic filter against the people I don't want to work with :)

This post is as good as "new study finds cholesterol causes heart disease". We know that LinkedIn endorsements are only as good as the person looking at them. In the new UI, LinkedIn highlights endorsements from "people that are highly skilled at this", which, in my observations so far, is fairly reasonable. In my mind endorsements only matter when they come from people that I trust. I'll take highly skilled at this with a grain of salt, but that's a lot better than endorsements from random people. I don't know anyone that hires engineers based on endorsements.

My experience with endorsements tells they can be not only deceiving, but also a trap.

There's this guy which I used to work with that was not very good in the job and used to distract others at work very often, not being really productive most of the time - but he was generally nice to everyone, so nobody really disliked him.

He ended up leaving the company, and was hired by another company which we had business with. After some time, his new employer called our boss to tell he left, taking with him all the code of the project he was and starting a company by himself with this code.

This may seem bad already, but it was not the end: a few years later, the guy comes back asking me for recommendations on LinkedIn - when I checked his profile, I found he got a lot of code from the first company as well - where we used to work together - and put on his Github, with copyright headers stating he was the author. In fact, he did that with code I personally wrote.

Of course, I didn't endorse him - but if I go to his LinkedIn page today, there are tons of recommendations by ex-colleagues, including recommendations for things that he barely worked with.

And this is just one example. Most co-workers I have or had that were really good in what they do have zero to a few recommendations, and usually in very specific stuff that don't every start to cover their knowledge.

So, my advice is: if you use LinkedIn recommendations to anything serious, you are doing something wrong.

one of the linked to articles has the following excerpt:

"Most jobs are never available publicly, just like most worthwhile candidates are not available publicly (see here). Information about the position travels at approximately the speed of beer, sometimes lubricated by email."

How does interviewing.io plan to attack this problem? I recently have had a lot of trouble getting placed - through one of interviewing.io's competitors (still not employed), but am now somewhat cynical about the process.

FWIW I noticed many lower-level employees who did a lot of heavy lifting for the company had skill sets and productivity that may or may not have been correlated with ability to get linkedin recommendations or endorsements. I'd even heard talk of management refusing a recommendation because: "is he looking for another job? why is he asking me for that?"

If you look at the world through rational self-interest recommendations and linkedin profiles should be viewed sceptically.

For anyone that wonders what the hell is the loading bar that is on top of the page, it loads the data for graphs at the bottom of the page.

I was semi-worried that my computer will explode when it is loaded. It takes so long and gives no visual feedback what it is loading. I would either put that near graph or better just use a static image

LinkedIn is very useful to keep a list of past and current colleagues and touch base with them in case you need to.

Instead of deleting my LinkedIn account to get rid of recruiter spam, I deleted my entire history. My profile is just my name and my photo. That way I can expand my network of colleagues without getting bombarded with spam.

I highly recommend doing this!

I'd always assumed the primary goal of LinkedIn endorsements is the same as every other email I get from LinkedIn, to keep user engagement with the site - and based on the number of colleagues I see accepting them, I'd say it's been pretty successful at achieving that goal for LinkedIn.

LinkedIn makes loads of money from their recruiting products. They likely care as much or more that you have a good profile that recruiters can search as that you spend time on the site.

Yep, I've been asked by friends to endorse them. But they are in a different industry and I have no proof whether or not they know the skills. Ethically, I don't think this is right. But no one I know has looked at endorsements during the hiring/interviewing process.

Wait, you mean my 1500+ endorsements, mostly by people I don't know, are worthless?! https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregghoush/

I am pretty sure I already knew this.

I have anecdotal evidence that endorsements are useless. I endorsed myself for "Rocket Science", "Brain Surgery", "Smooth Jazz", and "Yacht Rock".

I've received several endorsements for each.

Their notifications are top notch too:

"You have 1 new notification!"


... "Do you know these people?"

Shouldn't we start with the assumption that LinkedIn endorsements are already worthless and then try to prove that they have some sort of value? Hint: you can't.

Here's my anecdata on LinkedIn Endorsements. I've got endorsements for Malbolge a language I put on as a joke that I only know about vaguely from a wikipedia article.

Turns out when they released them and every time people logged in they got prompted to "endorse", they just pressed all of the buttons (and expected reciprocation) whether or not they knew the first thing about the skill they were endorsing that I had...

What is the theory which states that the relationship is the cover graph is linear? There must be one otherwise the fit does not make sense, it could have been ax^3 + e^9x, or heart shaped.

There should be a law punishing arbitrary linear fits and ridiculous claims which are concluded from their correlation.

I wouldnt start my marketing spiel with "get a job at uber" unless I was going to follow it with "... and bring your wiiiifeeee"

There's a hand-wavy footnote about recruiters not being able to divide by number of connections for every search result candidate, but I still think this would be a much more meaningful metric. I'm willing to bet the good recruiters already look at number of connections (too many/too few being flags), so I don't think it would be much of a stretch to compare the ratio.

A better way to do this analysis would have been to create an extremely sparse matrix with one column for every possible endorsement category with the value being the number of endorsements (normalized). Then try to predict various aspects of coding performance.

Definitely wouldn't endorse the author for machine learning :)

Out of curiosity, why are the data manipulation controls (zoom/share) on the plot.ly charts explicitly disabled (specifically, no hover popovers which plot.ly sets by default + the parameters link=false and modebar=false)?

At that point, why not use static images for data visualizations instead?

Probably bad copy paste examples?


Some people think everyone should consume charts a specific way and thus disable everything that doesn't fit that precise consumption model.

I wonder if they are useful at all just as: number of endorsements / number of connections.

Even if the tag is wrong, that someone vouched for you in some minor way might be statistically significant.

Of course, it could be that the UI encourages mindless tagging, therefore it's all cruft.

The UI definitely encourages mindless tagging. I'm endorsed for parallel algorithms by the manager of a very low-end car maintenance shop. Plural of anecodate, yada yada yada, but most of my endorsements are from people who really have no experience in that programming language or concept AT ALL.

A manager of a low end car maintenance shop with whom you've done no work for, correct?

If you have done work for him, I'd argue the tag at least means he liked the work. If not, then yeah, useless data.

I spoke with him for a few minutes at a wedding. Must have liked the conversation.

Yeah, the endorsement stuff is just tag spam.

They encourage people to endorse their friends, and they give us some tags. Lots of people will, on the theory they're somehow helping their friends, do this thing.

But the tags they offer have a tenuous relationship with reality.

I don't need an article full of statistics to tell me the endorsements are useless; everyone I know who has endorsed me only did it in the hope that that box with 'endorse your friends' will disappear off their Linkedin.

I'd like some endorsements for Hypercard, Police Quest 3, and obscure x86 opcodes

I fucking rule at HyperCard.

Depends on what that data means. Endorsement does not mean X knows Java. I would take it as X is somehow related to Java.

This is very useful and a collective statistics while being completely useless for individuals.

My employer set up a similar app thing - also allowing endorsements. Crucially it allowed freeform endorsements.

Didn't take long for people to endorse each other's BASE jumping and pole dancing ability.

Good article. So true about LinkedIn. In my experience, its a circle-jerk with no real checks and balances.. Don't let the LinkedIn darlings here ruin your day.

Haha I have always thought this though, I love that Tammy the waitress who I knew from school endorsed that I am capable of Network Architecture and Geospatial databases....

Looking for input from LinkedIn users:


Well, after a certain event last year, I have added "The cyber" to my skills and got endorsed for it. I do not need to be told they are useless.

I wonder how valuable the written recommendations are? Anyone have data on that?

Yes, that is a much more interesting question. They should be much more valuable, since they represent much more effort than a simple button click. However, you don't really know how genuine a recommendation is. It could be simple payback for someone who gave you a recommendation or some other favor in the past.

You would need some kind of subjective survey on if any prospective employers/recruiters even look at the recommendations and how much weight they tend to give them.

I love when I receive an endorsement for something like "XML".

At least it's not an endorsement for SGML

I'd like to see the residuals from that model

If people claim: "I know C++"... then I rub my hands and the fun begins. It usually ends with leaving that one off the list.


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