A Chief Marketing Officer in global healthcare posed a great question to me about the LinkedIn Skills profile section.
He posted his new LinkedIn content and was aggressively leveraging all LinkedIn features:
“Quite a few people ‘endorsed’ me on LinkedIn, but they often endorsed me for skills I did not list. Is this detrimental to my SEO strategy with recruiters via LinkedIn? Should I delete the endorsements that are not in my top 3? Does it hurt to leave them?”
Similarly, when I looked at my own LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements section a few days earlier, I realized that I had the same problem he did.
Many of my most endorsed skills didn’t apply at all to me. And the first 3 in my list were not my most important ones. My list was sending the wrong personal brand message.
What Are Skills and Endorsements?
A skill endorsement is a one-click way for your connections to endorse the skills listed on your profile. An “endorsement” is not the same as a “LinkedIn recommendation“, which is a written narrative that a connection of yours submits to you, in support of your expertise and value.
A high number of endorsements for skills representing your best talents supports your personal brand and adds credibility to your candidacy in job search and in doing business. Endorsements validate that you really do possess these skills, and they add value to your profile.
There is debate about how much weight the Skills and Endorsement section carries with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), compared with other critical spots for SEO, like the profile headline, name field and About section.
However, executive recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn extensively to source candidates by searching relevant keywords. The more your LinkedIn content is search engine-optimized − in other words, saturated with the right relevant keywords − the more likely your profile will land higher in search results for those keywords.
You should have uncovered the right keywords for you when you researched your target employers.
How to Brand Your LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements
You’re allowed a total of 50 skills in your list. The first 3 are more prominently displayed and include the avatars of your most recent endorsers.
Pull together a list of your top 50 areas of expertise (or skills), and post them to your profile in order of importance to your target employers.
LinkedIn describes how to use Skills and Endorsements:
“Once you’ve added a skill to your profile, your skills can be validated by 1st-degree connections to reinforce their weighting. These are called skill endorsements, which are different than recommendations. When a connection endorses your skills, it contributes to the strength of your profile, and increases the likelihood that you’ll be discovered for opportunities related to the skills you possess.
You don’t need to request a skill endorsement in order to receive one. By default, you’ll receive a notification when a connection endorses one of your skills. However, you can manage the frequency of the skill endorsement notifications.”
It’s good practice to reach out to your connections individually and ask them to endorse you, to build up your numbers. Meanwhile, keep an eye on how your endorsements grow, without you asking anyone for them.
How To Fix Your LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements
The practice of regularly reaching out to connections and requesting endorsements is all well and good.
However, as the Chief Marketing Officer I noted above mentioned, your prioritized list starts shifting to accommodate the endorsements coming in. Skills with more endorsements get listed first. Sometimes, new endorsed skills come in that are not even skills you possess. In other words, your list goes screwy over time.
Luckily, you can reorder and delete skills.
Scroll down your profile to the Skills and Endorsements section to manage them. Endorsements will appear to the right of an associated skill, along with information about the people who endorsed you. You can re-order the way your skills stack up following LinkedIn’s guidelines.
Come back every few months or so, and repeat to keep this section up to date.
As noted above, you can add up to 50 skills. The ones that have the most endorsements will be listed first. Those without any endorsements are listed according to the date they were added.
As of this writing, you can’t make your skills that have no endorsements land higher in your list than those with endorsements.
Get Into the Habit of Endorsing Others
Along with requesting and receiving endorsements, get into the habit of endorsing others. LinkedIn says:
“Endorsing your connections’ skills is a way to recognize any professional abilities that you’ve seen them demonstrate. You may be asked to provide feedback on skills and endorsements. Endorsing your colleagues can also help you to maintain strong connections with the people in your network. However if you change your mind about a skill endorsement that you’ve given, you can remove it.
You can manage how you receive and give skill endorsements by updating your profile settings.”
You can only endorse Skills of 1st-degree connections. Go to their profile, scroll down to their Skills section to look for Skills you’d like to endorse, and click on the “+” icon to endorse them.
Once you’ve done this, your name and profile photo will show up next to that skill. They’ll be notified of your endorsement, unless they’ve opted out.
The LinkedIn Skills Section May Soon Be Even More Important
LinkedIn strategist Kevin D. Turner recently noted in a post that members will soon be able to add skills to the Work Experience, Degree and Credentials profile sections. And recruiters who use LinkedIn Talent Solutions will be shown a skills match in search results.
This is based on LinkedIn’s data analysis showing a shift toward hiring based on skills:
- Skills for jobs have changed by ~25% since 2015 and by 2027 they are expected to change by ~50%
- Members added 286M skills to their profiles in 2021 (up 22% from 2020)
- 40% of Hirers on LinkedIn explicitly used skills data to fill open roles this year (up 20% year over year)
- Hirers using skills are 60% more likely to find a successful hire than those not relying on Skills.
So it makes even more sense to keep your Skills section up to date and request more Endorsements.
My advice for a quick and easy way to connect with your network and stay top-of-mind with them: Take the time to go to their profiles and give them skills endorsements.