LinkedIn Skills & Expertise: What’s the Value?

When I initially received a flood of notices that I had been “endorsed” by lots of people for a variety of skills in LinkedIn, I had questions. Mainly “What is this” and “Why do I care?”  Since this seemed to be the general sentiment, I did more research and discovered more about LinkedIn’s recently launched Skills and & Expertise feature.

This could actually become a valuable tool, especially for job seekers, freelancers, and people interested in growing their career through connections. In a nutshell it’s a “point and click” way to endorse someone, or to have someone endorse you. It adds tags that make your profile more easily found by search engines and LinkedIn searches, and provides a consistent set of search terms. For example, you might call yourself a Writer, Copywriter, Marketing Copy Chief or endless other variations. But when the Skill “copywriting” is attached to your profile, you can be found regardless of your title. LinkedIn also has a Skills & Expertise search function, currently in beta, which utilizes these tags and suggests people with related expertise.

A few tips about making Skills & Expertise work for you:

  1. Add Skills. Go to your profile, select Edit, and add any relevant Skills to the list that may already be there. Others are more likely to select a Skill already on your profile rather than thinking to add a new one. Also add related Skills and other phrases or terms people may associate with your main Skills. The system allows up to 50 tags. The Skills will be listed in the order you add them until you start getting endorsements on them (see #3).
  2. Endorse and Get Endorsed. When you see a prompt to endorse someone, if you can vouch for the expertise then provide an endorsement. If you do it for them, they will likely do it for you. This activity shows in the newsfeed, providing exposure for you and may trigger that person to contact you. However, please, please only endorse someone if you truly believe the item listed is a Skill or area of Expertise for them. The system only works when the data is accurate. Garbage in, garbage out.
  3. Prioritize Skills. The system lists your Skills in order of how often you have been endorsed for each. The only way to have something list higher for you is to have more people endorse you for that Skill. However, if you think that an endorsement is wildly inaccurate and you don’t want it to show, you can choose to hide it.
  4. Say Thanks. If your account is set to notify you that an endorsement has been received, you’ll receive an email. This is a great opportunity to thank the person, and perhaps an opportunity to reconnect. You were on their mind and they said something nice about you…what better time to reach out?

How does Skills & Expertise compare to Recommendations? LinkedIn has offered written Recommendations for quite some time, but asking someone to write a recommendation is a longer process requiring a closer relationship. So keep that in mind…it also means that when you read a recommendation, someone took the time to specifically think and write about that person rather than just clicking a couple of buttons. Recommendations still hold more weight than Skills & Expertise, but this new feature can be a nice overview of someone’s experience as viewed by others.  And, once more endorsements have been given and data collected, it will start to become a much more valuable tool for you to find others and to be found.