A client of mine – a Chief Marketing Officer in global healthcare – had a great LinkedIn question for me recently. He was just starting his job search, had posted the new LinkedIn content I had written for him, and was aggressively leveraging all LinkedIn features:
“I have had quite a few people ‘endorse’ me on LinkedIn, but they often endorse 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 10? Does it hurt to leave them?”
Coincidentally, I had taken a look at my own LinkedIn Endorsements a few days earlier and realized I had the same problem he did.
More than half of the skills listed within my top 10 either didn’t apply at all to me, or were not ones I’d choose as my top 10 areas of expertise. My list was sending the wrong personal brand message.
What Are Skills and Endorsements?
If you’re not familiar with this element of LinkedIn, 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 “Recommendation”, which is a written narrative submitted by a connection 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. These 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 the more critical spots for SEO, like the professional headline, name field, summary section, and job titles.
But executive recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn extensively to source candidates by searching relevant keywords. The more your LinkedIn content is search engine-optimized − or saturated with the right relevant keywords which you uncovered in researching your target employers − the more likely your profile will land higher in search results for those keywords.
How to Brand Your Skills and Endorsements
You’re allowed a total of 50 skills in your list. The first 10 are more prominently displayed and include the avatars of your most recent endorsers.
So, if you’re smart, you’ll 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. Then you can reach out to your connections individually and ask them to endorse you, to build up your numbers, and watch others you haven’t asked add endorsements.
This is all well and good. But as my client noted, your prioritized list starts shifting to accommodate the endorsements coming in. Skills with more endorsements get listed first. Some new endorsed skills that come in don’t apply at all to you. Your list goes screwy over time.
How To Fix Your Skills and Endorsements
Luckily, LinkedIn lets you reorder and delete skills. Here’s how to do it:
- Move your cursor over Profile at the top of your homepage and select Edit Profile.
- Scroll down to the Skills & Endorsements section and click on “Add Skill”.
- Move your cursor over a skill you’d like to move, then click and drag to re-order.
- To delete a skill, click on the “X” next to it.
- Click Save.
Come back, say, every few months or so, and repeat to keep this section up to date.
Want 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 skill endorsements.