Three weeks ago Linkedin started to aggressively market skills endorsement. They are a nimbler form of recognising individuals than the clumsier, and at times questionable, recommendations. For those of you who do not have a Linkedin profile or do not use it much, Linkedin has been displaying a blue box encouraging you to endorse specific skills of the person whose profile you are viewing. Sensibly, Linkedin is only displaying this message on first level connections.

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Once an endorsement is made, LinkedIn generates an email message to the mailbox of the person endorsed; giving him or her the opportunity to add skills. These endorsements go straight to the skills section of the endorsed user. The user can remove skills and hide endorsements from specific Linkedin users.

The skills section is not new to Linkedin profiles, however it is has (up till now) been less populated than work experience and education. User profiles can contain up to 50 skills.

Given the current in-your-face-marketing and ease of use, this innovation will go viral. With no opportunity to opt out of the skills endorsement programme expect that there is no turning back on this feature.

This addition enhances Linkedin’s Hiring Solutions service which offers enhanced data-mining and targeted campaigning functionality to recruiters within agencies and internal recruitment teams. The Hiring Solutions segment accounts for just over 50% of all the company's revenue and has been the fastest growing revenue source.

The implication of this new feature for recruiters is obvious. This new feature significantly improves Linkedin users’ profiles adding a dimension which is not present in any other social media space and even less so in-the-soon obsolete CV. Endorsements, although not anonymous, will provide any recruiter with some interesting insights, especially as numbers grow.

Endorsements will be for Linkedin users what online reviews are for restaurants. Although Linkedin endorsements do not allow for negative ratings, I am sure we will soon see the emergence of endorsement per connections ratios, giving profile viewers an understanding of the meaningfulness of these endorsements.

This new Linkedin feature is an added benefit for cutting-edge recruiters who already enjoy the benefits of an online Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which integrates with Linkedin. The beauty of this feature is that any candidates applying via a ‘Linkedin friendly’ ATS, such as CareerPassport will have their skill endorsements updated to the ATS database in real time.

This will give them the facility to mine more relevant data from one well organised and up to date database faster, thereby greatly facilitating the recruitment process.As endorsements increase, the expectation is that we will see the long tail taking shape (a restricted number of highly endorsed skills followed by large number of limitedly endorsed skills). The implication to job seekers is that they cannot easily change the focus of their online profile depending on the job they are applying for. The long tail effect will also entrench a long held conviction that professional recruiters have - people excel only in a limited number of areas, something which targeted CVs aim to disguise.

Linkedin endorsements will not determine hiring decisions but it will certainly translate into candidates not being approached/asked for an interview because of these endorsements.

A sensible thing all Linkedin users should do is to ensure that they have the skills clearly defining their strengths listed in their profile.

Of course, skills endorsement will not replace a strong recruitment methodology, well sharpened interviewing skills, and other assessment tools. But Linkedin endorsements are not a fad and are here to stay. Few would have thought that back in 2002, people would publicly put their CV online for all to see, however today Linkedin has over 175m members in 200 countries and adding 2 new ones every second (as at June 30, 2012). I see this feature will follow the same growth path.

Innovations within the social media space will continue to shape and change the way how companies and candidates connect to each other - get ready to embrace this change.

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