30 short, useful, actionable LinkedIn tips in 30 days from Doctor LinkedIn™, David Petherick. #30×30

#15/30: Choose your skills carefully, and place them in the right order.

Take a look at the skills listed on your profile. Then take a look at your job title or headline. Is there a natural match between the two?

If not, here are some tips for exactly how you can fix that, along with a few examples of disconnected profiles I’ve come across.

1: Why do skills matter?

Four main reasons –

  1. Search. If you use a Recruiter Premium Account, you can now choose to sort a list of candidates by the skills required for the position. And guess who uses Recruiter Premium Accounts? You got it – Recruiters.
  2. Alignment. If you see a job title like CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, you’d naturally expect that there were some associated fiscal skills: Business Planning, Budgets, Strategic Planning, Business Development.
  3. Credibility. It’s simple social proof – if you have dozens of endorsements for your skills, you look more credible than someone with few, or no endorsements.
  4. Search again. Skills are also ‘weighted’ in standard and advanced LinkedIn searches – and so a lot of endorsements for skills relevant to your position help you to be found.

2: Show me the problem

To protect the guilty (and keep to LinkedIn’s terms and conditions), I’ve anonymized the screen grabs in the examples below.

Example #1: CTO. This individual appears to be a skilled web developer and coder. But nowhere is there any mention of bigger skills, like Project Management or Strategy, Business Process or Leadership.

Example #2: CFO. This is properly aligned. The skills I’d expect to see in any Chief Financial Officer are there in the Top 10. Credibility. Plus, as there are always more than 12 endorsements for each skill listed in the Top 10, there’s a pleasing symmetry to the block of photographs.

Example #3: Business Coach. These skills ticks the boxes with relevant skills, and high scores for most of them. Also seems to focus on small business, which works for me. Credibility.

Example #4: Head of Sales. These skills are good, but perhaps not the ‘classic’ headings I’d look for if I was hiring in this area. Just 4 endorsements for Sales certainly raises an eyebrow here. Needs more work.

  • So as you can see from these simple examples, looking at the skills in relation to the actual job title or job function shows that when there’s alignment, it adds instant credibility – and when there’s not, it puts questions in your mind.

Of course, very often the reason for this discrepancy is that your skills have not been added to your profile in a structured, strategic way in the first place – and you may have been endorsed for skills that you do have, but which are not actually meaningful in terms of your job function.

For example, I know how to use the MS Office suite, and know how to use both PCs and Macs, but it’s not a skill that I need to advertise.

2: Why are skills important to recruiters?

Watch the official LinkedIn video below to understand why skills are now a critical element in your recruitment success.

3: What should I do about my skills?

There are a seven steps to take –

  1. Look around you. Check out the profiles of people you admire or respect, and see what skills they list. Make a note of the most important or impressive, and copy/paste into a note file the key skills that they and you have, but which may not be on your profile now. It’s as easy as typing in a skill to add it to your profile.
  2. Ask your friends and peers. Ask people what skills they’d say you have. You can sometimes be surprised by the results, and find that people recognise you for skills you’d not really considered you had.
  3. Prioritise. In terms of how skills are viewed, there’s a Top 10, a visible ‘Next 15’, and then a ‘Hidden 25’. That’s 50 Skills in total. In my view, 50 skills are too many for the mind to assess – I can’t enumerate 50 skills for anyone that I know. Try aiming for a maximum of 25, because that’s also what’s visible without needing to ‘click to see more’. And decide what your Top Ten skills are, and list them in order of importance – not just in the order of popularity so far, which is what LinkedIn shows as default.
  4. Group. Placing related skills together makes it easy for people to endorse you for the skills they recognise in you. So put Marketing together with Marketing Strategy and Digital Marketing, and don’t leave important skills lost on their own. You simply drag and drop to move them around – see the short video below to see how this works.
  5. Edit your skills. You can prioritise and group your skills simply by clicking to edit your profile, as shown in the short video below.
  6. Ask for endorsements. And an easy way to get them is to give them. But make sure, as shown in the video, that you have selected the tickbox to actually BE endorsed. I also changed my notification settings to that I receive an email when people endorse me, so that I can spend time thanking them, and as appropriate, also endorsing their skills.
  7. Move on up. As and when you’re happy with your skills and endorsements, I suggest you move then up your profile to give them more prominence. I placed my skills just after my summary in my profile – the logic being that you can read about me in my summary, but then immediately see “social proof” that real people agree with what I’m saying about having these skills. Credibility.

4: What if I get stuck?

Ask for help. I’m happy to spend ten minutes with you to help you enhance your profile – no sales pitch, no fee, just free unbiased advice. Visit mzs.es/talk to make an appointment for a call, or mzs.es/skype if you prefer Skype.