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LinkedIn Endorsements: What are they?

Submitted by Lori Conlan December 3, 2012

In Sept 2012, LinkedIn added a new feature to their site to allow anyone to endorse anyone else.  LinkedIn suggests that this new tool can be a way for you to recognize the good work done by your connections.

While the premise of the endorsement is positive, the way we see them being implemented is diluting their value.  Here in the OITE many of our inboxes are being filled with eager readers endorsing us.  While we love feeling smart, we question the value of endorsements when people are acknowledging us for skills they have never seen us use.  For example:  fellows have been endorsing our science skills when some of us have been away from the bench for over 8 years!  How do you know the quality of our science techniques when we don’t even know the quality of our science techniques anymore?  Forbes mentions in a recent article that in the first month over 200 million endorsements were added, and on average they see an additional ~10 million endorsements every day.  In the social media sphere, google “LinkedIn endorsements” and you will see a flurry of activity about the value of endorsements, and most of the commentary is not overwhelmingly positive. 

We urge you to save endorsements from just being a popularity contest, only use these “easy clicks” for people you are really familiar with.  Not all of your first degree connections can you honestly judge the value of their skills that they have listed.  In regards to choosing to “one-click” an endorsement for someone, heed the old adage, “Just because you can, doesn’t you mean you should.”


A Year in Review: Calendar for Career Success

Submitted by Lori Conlan December 11, 2012

If you’ve been following the OITE blog this year, you know that in the start of 2012 we decided to help you make a Calendar for Career Success.  We picked topics, and blogged about them, giving you advice (and sometimes challenges) each month to help you drive your career.  In short, we wanted 2012 to be the ‘Year for Your Career.’ And given that it is December, it is time to sit back and reminisce about the past year – because that is what everyone does in December, right?  Some of the things we talked about this year included having conversations about your career goals.  Not just you and your friends talking about your dream job over lunch, but a directed conversation with your PI or a career counselor.  These can be tough – but worthwhile. They help you take control of your career – set a plan, and work with people that have experience and knowledge to help you create a successful career plan. And sometimes we made you work – pulling together resources to create your job application, practicing your interviewing skills.  Because your career plan is not just a theory or a timeline on a piece of paper, but something you engage in: Thinking critically about your resume or CV, assessing your skills and abilities, and taking advantage of resources and opportunities to strengthen your career.

If you followed our career calendar for 2012 (you can find it here) then congratulations!  You deserve a good pat on the back. Even if you are in your same job now (because you weren't on the job market in 2012) or not (despite your best efforts you still haven’t moved on to your dream job), actively working on your career each month is a great achievement.  Even people in their ‘dream’ job constantly engage in making their career a ‘priority.’  They attend conferences and network with colleagues; they think about how to either gain new skills or apply the ones they have to new questions or problems.  For these people, focus is on making their current job more interesting or more challenging, not on getting a new one.

But why should 2012 be the only “Year of Your Career?”  The answer: No reason.  Every year can be your career year.  And if you weren’t reading our blog in January of 2012 (shame on you, by the way), then there is no reason not to start working on our calendar in January 2013.  And if you’ve been with us all year long, you can continue to actively work on your career – whether you want to just be better at your current job, or get a new one. In short, your career is an activity, not a thing.  And by setting up a career calendar, and sticking to it, you’ve decided that your career is a priority, and actively engage in having your dream career!