How to make the most of the Skills feature on your LinkedIn profile

How to make the most of the Skills feature on your LinkedIn profile

Have you visited your LinkedIn profile recently ?  Adding skills to your profile has been around for a while now, but it was vastly under-used until a new feature was introduced in the past few weeks : the possibility to endorse others (and therefore be endorsed) for these skills.

There is more than meets the eye about the Skills section on LinkedIn, so let me give you an overview.

Adding Skills to your LinkedIn profile

Go to More > Skills and Expertise and type in the skill you are interested in.

I recommend starting with a general one, such as “Human Resources”.

It will bring you to this page :

Human Resources - Skills page on LinkedIn

There, your data hunting can start. This page is a treasure trove.

  1. Right in the middle, you will see names of LinkedIn users that use this skill, so that you can explore their profile and see if you can learn from them. Just below are Groups that feature professionals with the same skills.
  2. On the right side, you will see some graphs about the  skill, such as how it is trending (being more or less used), how many people are using it (size) and the age bracket of the people who have used it in their profile. Just below, you’ll see Companies where relative high numbers of people have that skill in their profile.
  3. Finally, in the left bar, you will see related skills which you click on to analyse further.

This gives you a whole comparative analysis, where you can see professionals in your field, their career track and job titles for role modeling. The Groups give you an indea of the hot topics in that area, and the companies show you which kind of organisation is “friendly” towards your expertise.

If you think this skill represents you well, simply click on “add skill” right at the top of the page and voilà – you have a new skill on your profile !

Now explore the “Related Skills” on the left column if you wish and continue adding skills. You can have a maximum of 50 skills.

LinkedIn has another interesting feature. Next to the “add skill” button, you can select “Suggested Skills“. This will take you to a page where you will see the skills currently on your profile, as well as algorithm-generated suggestions. These are somewhat different from the “related skills” and may give you further ideas.

Once you have selected your skills, I strongly suggest that you go into your profile > edit profile and scroll to the Skills & expertise section then click on the small blue “edit” word next to it.

Finalise your skills on LinkedIn

Click on the name of any skill and you can select your proficiency level : beginner – intermediate – advanced – expert and add your numbers of years of experience in that field, up to 20+ years. Pretty neat, huh ?

Using Skills with other LinkedIn members

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, in the past few weeks, LinkedIn deployed a new feature related to endorsing skills.

Go the profile of any of your first degree connections, and you will see a big blue box asking you “Does XX have these skills or expertise ?”  

The box displays a number of skills, if you click “endorse” you will endorse them all. You can delete one or more of these skills and you can also ignore the request, or click on “skip” if you don’t want to see this box.

I don’t really like this solution though because I don’t know how these skills are brought up to my attention (they are not the most endorsed yet, nor the latest endorsed) and I may miss some skills that I feel more comfortable in recognising to the person.

So I recommend that you scroll down the profile of the person to their Skills and Expertise section. There, you will see all their Skills, how many other people have endorsed each (and whom – their picture is displayed to help you recognise people you may know and, maybe, appreciate whether the endorsement is meaningful (in your opinion) or not).

Endorse skills of your contacts on LinkedIn

To endorse a skill, simply click on the big blue + button at the left of the photos.

Your contact will be informed through another new feature called “notifications” at the extreme top of the page, or when they open their profile and see that they have been endorsed for skills. If the skill is new (ie not in their list of skills already), they are asked if they want to add that specific skill to their profile so that it is visible to others. And, they will also receive an email informing them that you have endorsed them.

I have had some nice surprises in the endorsements I received, as some of the people I know well have endorsed me for skills I had not thought of adding to my profile, but which were very relevant to our experience together. I am sure the same will happen to you !

What next ?

It’s easy to go with the flow : every time you look at the profile of one of your connections, you are prompted to endorse their skills.

I would however, recommend putting a few seconds to think about how you want to approach skills endorsements. Do you wish to be very generous with them and make your whole network feel good – but at the risk of diluting the value of the skills endorsement system. Or do you wish to endorse only skills of people that you really know, and for which you recognise a true competence /experience ?

I suspect a lot of people will endorse multiple skills at once, for some of their first degree contacts that they haven’t really worked with, simply because the system prompts them to do so. And there is no wrong in doing that.

A lot of people will also place value in having many endorsements. This is after all a pure concept of social proof, very similar in principle to the “like” button on Facebook I suppose. And I suspect that in time, if not done already, LinkedIn will use these in their search algorithm to decide which profiles should show at the top of the search results.

For me however, endorsing skills is similar to giving recommendations, whether on LinkedIn or during a recruitment process. I will do it only for people that I have worked with and would like to work with again, and for the things that are what I consider their strong points.

Why ? Because I value my recommendations. After all, if you know me and value my opinion, you would not want me to recommend someone who is not really “worth it” – and my reputation is at risk if I recommend someone who is not up to the par. And if you don’t know me, then my recommendation is not worth much so why give it in the first place ?

So in the coming weeks, little by little, I will go through my first degree contacts and see whom I can endorse, and what for. I will also use the notifications to know who has endorsed me, and may endorse them too.

I look forward to it as an opportunity to also reconnect with these people as I will probably send some of  them a “hello” or “thank you” message at the same time – killing two birds with one stone.

Now go and get started ! 🙂

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Sandrine,
    Thanks for this article. I was quite nonplussed about endorsements – receiving them is more or less nice (though why there is a skill “EU” and how it differs from “European Union” I cannot guess) and I wouldn’t like giving them to the people recommended in the boxes, as I don’t really work with them, or don’t have good opinion on their work.
    Now I understand it a bit more, and if I have some time to play, I’ll visit this section you are writing about.
    Have a nice day, Krisz

    • Thanks Krisz !
      Like you, I value endorsements I make as I consider that I engage my reputation, which is why I won’t automatically endorse skills as suggested on my Home Page every time I connect to the network. Still, I believe there is some value in those skills, if not for the endorsements, then for contacts and prospects to get a better understanding of where I consider my knowledge to be noteworthy (a bit like some people add a box with their skills at the top of a traditional resume), and whether others might agree with some of this assessment.
      Good luck with working on your profile !
      Sandrine

  2. Richard Lee Hook says:

    Sandrine,

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a recent LinkedIn user and have been setting up my account. My plan is to network looking for job opportunities and then refer interested parties to my LinkedIn CV (Resume) if they want, or need, more information about me such as skills and experience. Putting all this information into an initial contact with a recruiter or prospective employer is tantamount to information overload. These people are usually too busy to sift through long documents and are likely to just hit the delete button if what they want to know isn’t readily apparent.

    Thank you for all your work on preparing this article – I’ll work on this today.

    • Hi Richard,
      The”bonus” with LinkedIn is that, the more you fill in information, the higher your chances of being found by recruiters and headhunters. Skills are a part of the data they use in their search algorithm, so it not only makes sense to use them for your human readers / contacts, but also for passive selection.
      Happy that you liked the article !
      Sandrine

    • You have the monopoly on useful information -aren’t monoploies illegal? 😉

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