My overall take? LinkedIn Skills is poo poo. I only write it this way because I’m trying to be nice.
I believe that LinkedIn created Skills and Endorsements to get more traffic to LinkedIn, so they could tell their investors: “Look! We have more people coming to our site! Aren’t we great?” Here’s how this works: You get an email that says “John Doe has just endorsed you for this skill!” At first, it wouldn’t say who endorsed you, so you had to click on a link, which brought traffic to LinkedIn. Then you would spend a few minutes trying to figure out what the heck it was, what it meant, and if you should care. But hey, you were now a visitor, and you spent “a few minutes” on the site! Score one for LinkedIn, who now increased their traffic and “time on site” without increasing the value to anyone. Investors like metrics.
Skills are, well, skills. Like programming, training, speaking, dog walking. It’s just a list of things you are supposedly good at.
Endorsements are a count of how many times people say “Yep, she’s a good dog walker!”
You can add Skills to your own Profile. But others can add skills to your Profile, too. I have a bunch of skills that people have added that are inaccurate, meaningless, or not aligned with my personal brand. For example, others have added these skills to my profile, which I would have never added myself: Human Resources, Publishing, Time Management (ha! That is laughable), Lead Generation, Business Process Improvement, Search… and more. Of course, I’ve dabbled here and there in many of these areas, but I would not say I’m skilled at, or expert in, any of them. I’m not even moderately interested in some of them. I’d rather find an expert to help me with those things.
So, a problem with Skills and Endorsements is that people can add things to my Profile that are irrelevant and even misleading. What qualifies them to know that I’m expert in, interested in, or want to showcase one of those skills? Maybe I am a master dog walker, but really, that’s not something I care to have on my Profile. Why does someone else have the power to add a new skill to my Profile? (Yes, I know I can accept, reject, and reorder, but who has time for that? I just ignore this section.)
I used to not be super hot on Recommendations, which is the paragraph that you would write about someone saying how great they were. People said that they would skim those, but they were all flowery and positive, which kind of took away the overall impact. But once LinkedIn polluted the Profile with Skills, Recommendations seemed to be a lot more substantive.
I don’t think that LinkedIn cares much about skills, as far as adding value to the users. Why? Because I can’t find an easy way to search for skills. There is not a skills box in the advanced search options (not even in the advanced search, but I think the recruiter account can search for skills). I used to be able to easily find a skills page, which talked about what a skill was, and showed people in my network who had that. This link has an image of what it used to look like, but it looks like they retired it – none of the skills links work anymore.
In order to look for people with certain skills, you can try this hack that almost works good. First, go to someone’s Profile, then scroll to their Skills section. Then, click on a skill… this brings up a search of that skill. Unfortunately, it’s not a true search of users with that skill… it’s a more general search. But you can replace what you clicked on with what you want to look for… which is the section in yellow, below. It’s a hack that I’d say will work well 25% of the time. That is code for don’t even waste your time trying to search on skills.
My recommendation with Skills has been to drag the section as far down to the bottom of your Profile as you can. It’s a waste of space. It’s useless. Worse, it tends to distract you from doing what you should really be doing to get value out of LinkedIn. Don’t spend another second on it.
Ask me how I really feel
I could go on and on, but this is really enough time spent on this topic. I will share just one final thought, that could negate everything I’ve written about here: when there is proof that the skills you have, and the number of endorsements you have, impact how you show up in search results, then skills will be a game-changer. It will be time to game the system, which is what thousands of people will do, to show up higher in search results. It will make this mess even messier. I really hope LinkedIn doesn’t muddy up the integrity of their system by doing that, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Back when this came out I emailed a few of my favorite recruiters for their opinions, and meant to write a blog post with their reactions. I can’t find those emails right now, but the general reaction was that they could see right through skills. Recruiters aren’t dumb… they’ve seen enough Profiles and resumes to know what is high value and real, and what is meaningless. No recruiter I talked to was impressed.
I think that it’s a good idea to be active on LinkedIn, although I don’t agree with what the article says. In my experience, the main thing you should do is improve your LinkedIn Profile. I have never seen a Profile that is awesome (or, that couldn’t use some help). If I were to grade Profiles, most of them would get a C-. IMO it’s more important to fix your Profile than put up weekly status updates. You can get access to my LinkedIn Profile course (titled LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile) for free on Pluralsight, just login through JibberJobber, and watch the video below to see how to access it (and get free JibberJobber upgrades).
I am writing this post because I don’t want you to think that if you are not putting in status updates, you’re using LinkedIn wrong. Trust me, recruiters are smart enough to figure out your skills and competencies, even if you aren’t posting an update weekly.
I’ve been an advocate of LinkedIn Groups for a while, especially since they took away Answers.
This week I saw a message on Facebook that surprised me. Michael Stelzner is one of the smartest entrepreneurs I’ve met, very savvy with social media, very likable, creative, and he’s been successful with his business ventures. This message, from him, surprised me:
42,000 members in a LinkedIn Group… that’s pretty sizable. I think the only reason to shut it down is that it’s not bringing value to his business. I’m guessing this is because:
As a Group Admin, when he sends out “announcements,” no one is acting on his call to action. Note: Announcements are so powerful, if you own a Group and are not sending out Announcements, you are missing the main value of owning a LinkedIn Group.
There is too much spam. This is a problem on many LinkedIn Groups, and something that people have complained about since the beginning. In his comments to that Facebook post he adds: “Actually we have staff dedicated to moderating our LinkedIn group and this is not a knock on LI, just the groups. In fact we have one of the cleanest groups out there as far as spam, but we have to remove 100s of comments a week that are self serving.”
On a semi-related note, LinkedIn has taken steps to reduce spam, kind of, but the implementation of the Site Wide Account Management (SWAM) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It allows one Group admin to say you are a spammer, and then you cannot post on any group. To give one Group Manager that much power is nothing short of stupid.
Anyway, the idea that someone like Michael pulled the plug on a Group that big makes me question who is getting value out of their Groups. Is it too hard to manage (taking too many resources)? Is there no return value?
I thought it was going to be fluffy, but it’s really, really good. I agree with almost everything, except I think you should zoom in more on the head, rather than have a belly-button-and-up shot. That’s just my gut reaction… they are the ones with the data. I’ll still recommend zoom in, though. I think their examples of “zoomed in (face only) is perhaps TOO zoomed in.
Anyway, great article, very informative, and it proves you can have an effective Profile image without paying big bucks … although I will say that a professional photographer with experience in profile images can do wonders.
I like how the breakdown in this post is trying to determine how different characteristics of a photo will impact how the viewer perceives your competency, how likable you are, and how influential you are.
I’ve been following threads by people who do LinkedIn training, like career counselors, and individuals who own their own business. This limitation hampers their ability to promote LinkedIn, and even show how to do a good search, in LinkedIn. Paying for a normal account might not even solve the problem.
Until someone at LinkedIn wakes up and pulls the plug on this horrific limitation that is only making LinkedIn unusable by people (ask me how I really feel), I’ll suggest a workaround for you.
It took a while for me to get this video posted because I had to have part of the video blurred out for privacy.
You might remember that our Focus Friday sessions, which are 10 minutes of training focused on one particular thing (and then as much time as we need to answer all of your questions) has morphed into a “getting started on JibberJobber” video series. The next logical video was how to export contacts from LinkedIn.
From the Office of Face Palms at LinkedIn comes another ridiculous move to make you upgrade. Have you heard about this? You will only be able to search a certain amount of times, or see a certain number of search results, and then you are cut off. Here’s my message, right in line with the search results of a name:
Are you kidding me?
Here’s what I did: I did a search for a name on Google… and then clicked on the LinkedIn result that would show me all of the people with that first and last name. I scroll down and bit and see that in fact I have been penalized for clicking on that link.
I do this regularly.
This is seriously dumb. Unless you are at LinkedIn, and want to force people to upgrade, but with the alternatives that are coming out, and the change in direction and value that LinkedIn has, I think this is one more thing that will drive usage and value down.
I was on a call with some career center directors today from a school that everyone’s heard of and we spent too much time talking about how LinkedIn has decreased in value for people who want to network.
That’s what they were set up for in the first place! To help people network!
Things have changed. Networking is harder on LinkedIn. And people have noticed, and they are tired of it.
This limit is one more thing that makes me think “okay, if I can’t find it on LinkedIn, I’m going to go somewhere else.” Which is exactly what I’ve been hearing from recruiters… they are going somewhere else.
I have gotten thousands of invitations to connect over the years. Mainly this is because I have a pretty public persona, from starting JibberJobber, and then writing the book on LinkedIn. I have spoken across the US and have done many webinars to global audiences. So people send me invitations… which I don’t have a problem with.
What I do have a problem with is the idea that getting a connection on LinkedIn seems to be the end goal.
In my LinkedIn trainings I’ve suggested that once you start a relationship with someone, you DO NOT ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn – yet. Why? Because connecting on LinkedIn, many times, means “we’re done communicating.” It’s the end. I have reached my goal, I have won.
Think about it – how many times have you connected with someone on LinkedIn, and then you never hear from them again? How many times have you had a good conversation with someone, then invited them to LinkedIn, and then stopped communicating with them?
I’ve seen this too many times. So my suggestion is to build the relationship more, and eventually connect… but make it clear that you are interested in the relationship a lot more than a somewhat meaningless connection on social media.