You’ve probably seen this new thing on LinkedIn about “endorsing” people. Every time you log on, it gives you the opportunity to “endorse” all sorts of people you’re LinkedIn to, which basically means clicking on something to agree that they possess some particular skill or other.
This seems to me like a rather pointless and unnecessarily competitive new idea. It creates a new and misguided anxiety, that if say only three people have endorsed a copywriter for “creativity,” then the copywriter must be miles less creative than someone who has been endorsed by a hundred people. (All it actually means is that the latter has worked his or her LinkedIn contacts much harder than the former, who was very likely too busy being creative.)
Anyway, I don’t suppose I really mind, but there are two details that do bother me a bit. First, although I could probably figure it out if I looked more closely, I don’t actually know where the lists of individuals’ candidate skills actually come from, and I must say that my own is less than entirely satisfactory. It occupies a rather boring middle ground, suggesting that I may have skills in dull-sounding things like “integrated communications,” but not providing any options to do with brand (brand strategy, brand development etc) which is what I spend about 70% of my time actually doing – while also not including any of the really valuable life-skills that I actually pride myself on, like “not overcooking fish,” or “parking a long wheelbase Audi in very tight spaces,” or “remembering most of the Wombles’ bass guitar parts nearly 40 years later.”
My second grumble is less important – even less important, you might say – but reflects a greater irritation. When you log on to LinkedIn, to encourage you to do some of this endorsing, it suggests a few examples from among your contacts to get you started. It says, for example, “Does The Pope know about Catholicism?” or “Do Bears know about forestry-based toilet facilities?” Except that in my case, it does just the opposite – coming up with the names of the most incompetent and inept people that I know, and asking if I think they possess the most challenging and esoteric skills. One particular person, who it’s really tempting to name, comes up all the time. Does she know about Integrated Communications?, it keeps asking me. Does she know about Marketing Strategy? You’re kidding, I want to reply. She doesn’t know her arse from a hole in the ground, as Randy Newman put it. Sadly, the endorsement tool doesn’t give me that option. Nor the option of dealing with the whole process like the courts deal with driving licences, and endorsing her to the tune of 12 points – that would take her off the road for a while.