LinkedIn has always billed itself as a professional networking site. One very basic function of this is the fact that our peers, managers, and reports get to make statements about our expertise.
Now, there are several kinds of statements other people can make. The most obvious type is a recommendation. But another often misunderstood type of statement is the endorsement your connections can make of skills you possess.
On the face of it, the endorsement is a fairly straightforward concept:
- A LinkedIn member lists several skills on his or her profile;
- That member’s connections will be presented with the option to endorse him or her for one or more of those skills;
- Each endorsement is tallied until 99+ are achieved.
But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. There are several ways in which a job seeker can make optimal use of skills and endorsements on LinkedIn. Knowing the difference between which of them are genuinely useful versus busywork is the key, and as finding a job is a full-time job, a job seeker can ill-afford wasted time.
In your search, you are no doubt targeting several job titles, or perhaps just one. But do you know all of the skills possessed by other top candidates for this work? Sure, you know the basic skills, but what about the “nice to have” ones that will put you over the top? Moreover: if you don’t have them all, how do you fix that?
If you do know those other skills, find a volunteer opportunity that will let you add or maintain that skill. But if you don’t, your next step is easy: do a search on LinkedIn for that position, just as a recruiter might.
Go to Advanced Search and plug in your target job title into Title and select Current from the drop-down. The top candidates for any position are those who are doing it right now, and any recruiter will tell you, look at the results.
Look at the skills you see listed in the top results. Do you see any common themes among skills possessed by those LinkedIn members that are not on your list?
Promote Your Skills
LinkedIn has skills assessments you can take to measure your skills. You'll be able to validate your skills and add them to your profile.
Over ten billion endorsements have been given by LinkedIn users ever since the feature was introduced. That number was reached because practically every time you look at a connection’s profile, LinkedIn asks if you’d like to endorse him or her for as many as four different skills.
But you have probably noticed that LinkedIn has no way of knowing whether or not you ever witnessed your connection making use of any given listed skill: it simply asks if you’d like to endorse the skill and the person. There is no check and balance, no sanity checking: just a simple yes/no question.
For this reason, Endorsements are invariably best read with a shaker of salt. Every single LinkedIn user has found him or her self on the receiving end of an endorsement for a skill that the endorser never witnessed.
Fortunately, LinkedIn has provided the tools to remove irrelevant or incorrect Endorsements. Just go to Profile|Edit Profile and once you’ve scrolled to the skill section, select either Add & Remove or Manage Endorsements and take the desired action.
At some point, if it has not already happened, a well-meaning connection will inevitably add a skill to your list. Give the subject some thought: is it a skill for which you should be endorsed by that person, and is it consistent with how you are presenting yourself concerning industry, job function and seniority?
If yes, accept it and move on. But if not, go to your profile and remove it. And do that soon: others in your network will see a new skill and might think it would be helpful to endorse it, without any clear understanding of whether it’s consistent with how you want to position yourself. So yes, get out those garden shears and prune periodically.
There are a variety of ways that people in your network can be helpful to you, or that you can be helpful to someone in your network when it comes to how you present yourself. Since people have made over a billion endorsements already in the first two years of the feature, this isn’t a step you can afford to neglect.