My article on inc.com has been enthusiastically received so I think more detailed discussion than what I outlined, on each of the 8 ideas, is in order. Thanks for following the 8 serialized blog posts that further develop my spring cleaning tips.
List your Skills in sharp focus: be very specific.
“Marketing” is not a skill per se (rather, it’s a textbook on a shelf); “social media marketing analytics” is a more exact skill, as is “integrated marketing analysis.”
Cull out endorsers who don’t directly know each skill from direct experience with you, but somehow endorsed you for it anyhow.
I always call the Skills section “the section I love to hate.” In my estimation, it’s been so overused, misused. Settle back, put the phone on vibrate. This section is long and important; it’s here to help you with this one single troublesome section and defend you from getting into hot water.
LinkedIn places a lot of weight on Skills and Endorsements in the search. The area allocated to it in your profile befits a careful analysis with ideas to make it work well for you, as it did for me, so well, that my original misgivings are softening. Used effectively and intelligently it can tell a lot in a few words. And that’s’ a valuable addition, so let’s make it actually help you.
Start by noting the keywords you already wrote into the latest revision to your Headline, Summary, and Experience section narratives, as you wrapped them into full sentences. Take stock of words in those sections that describe your skills.
Next, ask your firm’s web designer what search engine optimization (SEO) keywords are worked into your company website, to bring forth words and phrases someone would use to find you in a search (on Google in the case of the work by the web designer; LinkedIn for your purposes of this book), then write these search terms into a list.
Keep adding and amending the listed skills until you have about 15 or 20 of them; overlap is ok between them, as variations on a skill, but no outright repetition. Look at competitors’ skills if you can actually see them. Look at colleagues’, coworkers’, vendors’. Whittle the list down to the best you can come up with.
Then run tests using these keywords to see if you and some competitors and colleagues come up in the search results. No? Keep refining.
When you are satisfied with the list of skills, enter these search keywords into your Skills section and LinkedIn might just suggest others you have not thought of. Keep that list going.
Management is not a skill. Finance is not one either. They are textbooks on a bookshelf. Find the right set of words and phrases to describe you skills, even if LinkedIn seems to lead you to use diluted skill terms. Rise above that.
As we said earlier, LinkedIn is a gigantic searchable database of respectable business pros seeking others. Its search function queries 4 sections: Headline, Summary, Experience and now you know-Skills. You can always go back to these sections and knit in more descriptive and usable keywords as you make regular revisions; cohesively, they feed each other.
Once you have settled on the right skills to portray, it’s time to edit out the old ones. Once you delete a skill, all the endorsers who recognized you for that skill no longer appear on your profile. That’s not a problem-the skill term you just deleted was deficient anyway.
Endorsements by people who do not have direct experience with your skill, despite the fact they endorsed you any way, need to be edited out. Again no worries, losing their endorsement is not an issue as they can’t help describe you skills anyhow.
The upshot? Choose your skills carefully so they appear towards the top of your listing. If you need to rework your skills, do so (be creative yet realistic). Once you have made a number of changes, it’s ok to let you connections know that you have made changes. Perhaps your colleagues’ new endorsements will help push the new skills to the top. Rewrite and tweak, tailor and cull out the folks who thought endorsing you for all your skills was a nice thing to do.