Thursday March 17, 2011
I was recently interviewed by both Mashable and the Miami Herald about LinkedIn Skills. Here's my thoughts on the whole thing.
Skills is a double-edged sword for me. I train people on how to optimize their profiles so they can be found on a LinkedIn search, and of course as more people realize that to get found on LinkedIn, all they need to do is optimize their profile more efficiently with keywords, the actual value of a traditional LinkedIn profile is decreased. Many people are inputting experience formulated simply to get a higher result on the LinkedIn Search results thereby inaccurately displaying their real qualifications. This is where I see the real strength of the skills, publications and certifications sections. You can of course fake all of the above, but since it doesn’t seem to affect search rankings, there is no reason to.
Showing up in the skills search does NOT seem to be affected by how many times you put variations of your keywords in the skills section (Trust me – I’ve tested it!) From what I can tell, LinkedIn is using a search algorithm that is either like – or combined with - a Google search. Or maybe someone in the back office is just picking their favorites. Its hard to tell! Many of the experts listed in the skills section do not have optimized profiles, and do not show up in a simple LinkedIn People Search under those same skills. This indicates to me that perhaps the skills section more accurately displays those with true skills. And I would highly recommend to LinkedIn users, job-seekers and candidates that they make sure to list their TRUE qualifications and skills in this section. Not because it will get them found in a search, but because this is where you can differentiate yourself from the pack.
I would warn that you might be expected to prove what you claim to be true to actually be true. Don’t list yourself as an expert in your field if you are not.
Bridget Carey from the Miami Herald recently interviewed me about the Skills section:
We both agreed the we’d “like to see the location tool focus more tightly on how the skill ranks in a particular region… and would like to see what nearby cities breed those jobs.”
As Carey states, “searching for a generic skill (video, office management) is pretty much useless… it will be interesting to see how this tool evolves, but for now, use it as encouragement to update that profile.”
As in most things LinkedIn, the idea of skills is great, and I think it has definite application. I would encourage users to explore it, and to be aware, like many of the new apps (Signals, Groups Jobs) there are still some bugs that need to be worked out. I’d also warn a recruiter that until we really know how the search algorithms work, not to disqualify a candidate just because they do not show up as the as one of the chosen professionals.
If you have no idea what this skills thing is, visit LinkedIn’s Blog on their latest offer: http://blog.linkedin.com/category/new-linkedin-features/skills/. You can find it under "More" in the LinkedIn toolbar (You know, that place where they stuck everything they ran out of room for?)
Here's a few more cool things I discovered - Skills is a great place to find synonyms for your keywords. As an example, I type in Social Media, and other skills that show up are:
Not only that, but they give me great descriptions I can use to amp up my profile and experience descriptions:
"Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers."
Play around a little, do a search or two, and let me know what you think!