The Inherent Bias in LinkedIn Featured Skills & Endorsements

A network graph of LinkedIn logosFor anyone who seriously uses LinkedIn, you know that your profile is really important.  Our profile is our modern day resume, and it is how we will be judged by potential clients and employers.  One part that is especially important are our listed skills.   I have been fortunate that many people have endorsed me for many skills without me ever needing to resort to any form of “hacking“.

But I have come to realize that there is an inherent bias in the LinkedIn Featured Skills & Endorsements, and it is one that cannot be easily fixed, because the bias has to do with who knows what you do, and feels competent enough to make a judgement about it.

In my case, since 2001, I’ve simultaneously have been involved heavily as both an educator (first as a teacher and later a school administrator), and as someone who works heavily with data (Database Administrator, Institutional Researcher, etc.).  In my role as an educator, this is something that lots of people saw me do regularly, and even those who I didn’t work directly with, knew that I did, and could easily understand what I did.  And so in my education-related skills, I have received many up-votes over the years.

But, I have some very good skills in dealing with data (which can be seen in my Data Actionism Portfolio).  And specifically, I have a true expertise in Excel, which I can prove, because I earned a perfect score on the Expert Certification for Excel.  Yet my “Microsoft Excel” skill has languished with only 5 up-votes (at the time of this writing), compared to over 50 in “Curriculum Development”.  And while I think I’m very good at curriculum development, I honestly have an even greater expertise in Excel…  But my profile doesn’t show it!  And why?  Because my data analysis with Excel has always been a “back office” task, where while it affected the organization as a whole, most people didn’t see my work, and also I believe that if people don’t feel they understand Excel well themselves, they won’t generally feel comfortable up voting someone else’s skill.

So how can this get fixed?  Well, you can help and I will share how tomorrow.

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