Skills, or Skills & Endorsements, might be the most controversial or misunderstood aspect of a LinkedIn profile.
Questions abound and usually center on numbers:
✔ How many Skills should I have?
✔ How many Endorsements do I need?
✔ Do recruiters look at this section?
✔ Are Endorsements meaningful?
✔ What Skills should I highlight?
and so on…
Ten years into its existence, in 2012, LinkedIn proudly introduced “Endorsements: Give Kudos with Just One Click.” It was designed to let you recognize and affirm your professional colleagues for their skills and expertise.
You may remember the colorful format, with miniature square headshots of every person who endorsed you for each Skill.
You might also remember seeing people whose brand-new profiles had one headshot (one endorser) for every skill … and often it was their well-meaning mother!
It did not take long for this to become a meaningless mess. LinkedIn bombarded you with “would you like to endorse this person for these Skills” and “suggest more Skills for this person” every time you looked at a profile. It was easy to send requests to your contacts to endorse you. And everyone endorsed everyone else, because why wouldn’t they? It cost nothing but a mouse click.
Still, it was a vanity exercise and people scrambled to get the maximum displayable endorsements (99). Some people hired 3rd parties (Fiverr.com) to place endorsements to reach that magical number of 99.
There’s more to this story, especially after Microsoft bought LinkedIn and invested heavily into this part of the system. But save it for another blog post 🙂
The best advice for most users today is to populate your Skills section with as many relevant skills (keywords) as you can.
If you are jobseeking, they will show up in the recruiters’ search results. If you are simply improving your presence for general reasons, it will show “human” readers the skills that you want to be known for. You are allowed up to 50 Skills, and the Top 3 will always display without the reader needing to click anything.
How many Skills should you list? Weak answer: just enough.
- Use terms that relate to what you do now and would like to do next.
- Purge any obsolete skills or things that you are no longer interested in doing.
- Look at job postings and make sure that you have captured skills that they request (EVEN if you are not in jobseeking mode.)
- Look at your competition and peers for ideas.
- Some skills may have two spellings, such as webmaster and web master. It’s OK to use both, or whichever seems more popular in LinkedIn.
And remember that LinkedIn has an auto-suggest feature; when you start to type in a skill, it will offer several more for your consideration.
How many Endorsements do I need? Weak answer: only LinkedIn’s algorithm knows.
- Expert observers disagree on this issue.
- Many think that recruiters care more about the actual Skills listed–perhaps the quantity of Skills–and not the numbers of endorsements.
- This may be partly because of the original messy model and its remnants.
Finally, why should you bother getting (or giving) Endorsements? Strong answer: visibility and generosity.
- Some viewers of this section may still consider numbers important.
- Gives you a sense of what your colleagues and customers admire in you.
- Helps you identify which keywords you should emphasize in your About section or Experience sections.
- Shows viewers some of the impressive people who you are connected with.
- Simple way to “say hey” to connections with whom you haven’t talked in a while.
- Entice their connections to look at you.
Sorry that it all seems so anecdotal! That’s the beauty and mystery of the top-secret LinkedIn search algorithm, which changes frequently.
If you decide you’d like to revamp or increase your own Skills & Endorsements section, consider jumping on a Zoom call with me and I’ll guide you through it, help you look at other peoples’ profiles, and rearrange your Skills section to put the most important Skills near the top. At $129 for a 60-minute call, you can get way ahead of the game so click here to choose your appointment time.