You may think of LinkedIn like Facebook for professionals, but recruiters and hiring managers don’t. They treat the professional network like the gigantic resume database it essentially is. For job seekers, that means one thing: Your profile needs to be laser-focused on target jobs, and dense enough with data to be discoverable by the recruiters you most want to hear from.
One of the mistakes people make in trying to beef up their LinkedIn profiles is loading it with too many skills. When it comes to discoverability, less is more.
LinkedIn Entices You To Overdo It
The good news is that LinkedIn offers great flexibility in terms of how you present yourself; the bad news is that that creates plenty of opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot.
The “Featured Skills & Endorsements” section of your profile lets you list up to 50 skills, tempting you to describe the full range of your experience and capabilities. That’s an urge you need to resist. Offering your connections 50 skills to validate you dilutes the focus of the narrative your LinkedIn profile should convey–making it less discoverable to recruiters as a result. Why? There are at least two reasons:
- When you list too many skills, your connections can spread their endorsements over a wide range of options, resulting in fewer endorsements for each skill, which hurts your overall discoverability.
- You have no control over who endorses you for what, and with too many endorsements for lesser skills, your profile could end up optimized for the wrong job.
So you need to think more narrowly. Adding only the skills closely related to your target job allows LinkedIn’s algorithms to reward the number of endorsements you get for a particular skill, which boosts your discoverability in recruiter searches.
Employers Know Best
Now the question becomes how to determine the right skills to include on your profile, and which ones to cut.
The best rule is simply to look for the skills most commonly featured in job postings you’re excited about. This lets you think more objectively about what your skills actually are, letting employers’ own needs guide you. You’ll wind up with a shorter, more thoughtfully focused skills list better tailored to the sorts of skills recruiters themselves are looking for.
What’s more, this gives your connections fewer options for what to endorse you for, increasing the number of endorsements you’re likely to get for each skill. The greater volume of endorsements that are focused on fewer but better-targeted skills, the more discoverable your profile will be.
How To Get The Endorsements You Need To Boost Visibility
The best way to get endorsements is to give them, because it’s standard practice to say “thank you” for a skill endorsement by reciprocating. So give each of your connections a few skill endorsements and see who naturally returns the gesture.
Most LinkedIn users underestimate how helpful mutual endorsements can be, so when someone doesn’t reciprocate in a day or two, encourage them with a message like this:
I endorsed your profile for some skills the other day to help increase your profile’s visibility. If you have a second, I’m hoping you can return the goodwill!
This may feel a little more direct than what you’re comfortable with, but since LinkedIn is a professional platform, this is exactly the sort of well-intentioned favor trading it’s built for. Plus, endorsing someone takes a lot less effort than writing a recommendation.
Finally, there’s one more way you can use a tightly focused list of skills to attract recruiters on LinkedIn: In your “Experience” section, repeat each skill within the context of the job where you applied it. Since LinkedIn rewards skills that are contextualized by dates of employment, this will further increase your prominence in searches.