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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Surprise, LinkedIn Endorsements Do Matter! Here's What You Need to Know

Whenever I teach a session on how to improve LinkedIn profiles, I almost always get asked one of the following questions:

  • Is there any value in adding skills to my profile?
  • Are skill endorsements important?
  • What should I do if a connection endorses me for a skill he knows nothing about?

For context, the site allows you to add up to 50 skills to your profile, and those in your network can validate that you have those skills by “endorsing” you. This feature was rolled out in 2012 and there are now over 10 billion endorsements on the platform.

You can add practically any skill to your profile, and while most users take this fairly seriously, some have had fun with it, including skills such as eating, online dating, and memes.

If you’re like me, you’ve had people in your network endorse you for skills they know nothing about. For example, my childhood dentist—who I haven’t seen in ages—recently endorsed me for Human Resources. Which sounds great, but he knows little to nothing about HR. Ask any seasoned user of LinkedIn and they’ve likely experienced the same thing.

With these concerns in mind, the platform recently rolled out a much-anticipated update to this section. While the company hasn’t restricted the type of skills you can add, it has made a few changes to make endorsements more relevant. I’ll walk through how this feature has changed and why it matters to you.

How Skill Endorsements Have Changed

In this refreshed version, LinkedIn has implemented machine-learning algorithms to make visible the endorsements that are most applicable to the person viewing your profile. As seen in the screenshot below, people visiting your profile will see endorsements made by mutual connections, colleagues, and people who are knowledgeable about the skill. Pretty cool, huh?

It’s also revisited how it suggests endorsements. Now, when someone visits your profile, he or she will be prompted to select skills he or she might also have, so for example if a former marketing colleague visits your profile, it would make sense for her to endorse you for social media marketing. You can aid in making this process more applicable by making sure your skills are listed in order of how you want to highlight them.

Since most recruiters and hiring managers are spending limited time viewing your profile, this addition makes your top skills more visible and meaningful.

Why Skills and Endorsements Matter

Even with more targeted endorsements, you may be wondering why this section even matters. According to LinkedIn, people who list at least five skills receive up to 17x more profile views.

There’s also evidence that more you have, the higher you’ll rank in the search results. And the more profile views you’re getting, whether from a recruiter or someone in your industry, the more opportunities you’ll see.

But it’s not just about profile views. Having relevant skills listed on your profile is a signal to others that you’re proficient at your work, which will make you more attractive to potential employers.

If you’re trying to identify the most essential qualifications, here are a few suggestions. First, review profiles of your peers and colleagues—and add the ones that apply to you, too. Next, review job descriptions that are similar to your current position to see which keywords are used most frequently. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t add a skill to your profile unless you actually have it.

But what if you’re still getting endorsed for things you don’t have or can’t do by people who hardly know you? You’re in luck. You can remove unwanted items and hide endorsers you don’t want to see. While getting endorsed by someone you don’t know isn’t the worst thing in the world, you own your presence on LinkedIn and should keep only skills that’ll enhance your presence.

While I’ve largely focused on receiving skill endorsements for this piece, a great way to strengthen your network is to proactively give them to your connections. Doing so is an easy, low-effort way of keeping in touch and regularly engaging with your contacts.

Now that you’re an expert on this subject, head over to LinkedIn and take a minute to see how you can improve this critical section of your profile.

Photo of woman on laptop courtesy of Squaredpixels/Getty Images.