UPDATED DECEMBER 28, 2017: Original article published on June 30, 2016.
Is it time to start thinking about your career and how you're going to attack the job market? According to a Jobvite Survey, 94% of recruiters and hiring managers are active on LinkedIn, but only 36% of job seekers are!
For some reason, LinkedIn seems to attract an older crowd; but this needs to change! LinkedIn is a great way to learn more about a company, connect with its employees, find and apply for job openings, and spread the word about your skills and abilities with minimum time spent.
This series outlines the best LinkedIn profile tips for recent graduates. In this chapter, you'll learn how to leverage two often underutilized LinkedIn features.
Skills + Endorsements
LinkedIn profiles feature essential sections that, like your resume, tell your story and showcase your background in a way that resonates well with employers. One of these sections is your Skills and Endorsements section.
You can add up to 50 skills to this section. Fill this section with keywords, personal traits, and skills that employers are looking for. Start with your job-related skills.
Examples of Job-related Skills
General Manager: Staff Training, Budgeting, Customer Service
Physicians Assistant: Diagnosis, Immunization Administration, Patient Recordkeeping
Software Engineer: Application Design, Software Installation, HTML/CSS/Java/C++
Fitness Trainer: Exercise Program Development, Nutrition, Kinesiology
Territory Sales Representative: Lead Generation, Account Management, Product Knowledge
Examples Of soft (or Transferable) Skills
You should have a nice balance of both job-related and transferable skills. Soft skills apply to a wide range of roles. These skills would include:
- Time Management
- Team Leadership
Add your computer skills as well, especially if your job target will require you to need specific technical skills. Computer skills to add would be Microsoft Word or Excel, PC or iOS, social media platforms, and industry-specific software.
Why College Graduates Need Endorsements
As a recent college graduate, you likely don't have the experience to support your immediate career goals. While you may think dissecting your education for relevant skills will be enough to flesh out your profile, you'll need "social proof" to back up the skills you claim you have.
Endorsements are a form of "social proof" on LinkedIn. Social proof boosts your credibility online and also boosts your profile's overall visibility in searches.
So who should you request endorsements from?
- Co-workers who are familiar with your work ethic, have seen you improve, and want to see you advance in your career
- Former supervisors who know how well you learn new things and how well you work with others (both customers and management)
- Professors or instructors who have already acknowledged how well you apply what you've learned both in and out of class
- Classmates who would gladly attest to your strengths, competencies, and personal traits
What You Don't Know About Endorsements
In earlier articles, we introduced you to LinkedIn "tiered" Connections. The people you are directly connected to are your 1st Connections. The people who are connected to your 1st Connections but not to you are your 2nd Connections, and so on.
It's really important to connect with people you know and who are familiar with your skills. Employers and recruiters can see how many endorsements you have received from your connections. If you have 99+ endorsements for Sales and you've only had a sales job for 6 months, employers and recruiters will know something is not adding up.
Use endorsements to your advantage by connecting with people you know and managing your endorsements strategically. You can manage your Skills and Endorsements section by removing skills that are not relevant to your career goals and hiding endorsements from people who may not know you or are not familiar with your skills.
How To Ask For social proof
On the LinkedIn home page for logged in users, you will find a section that recommends skills that you can endorse for your 1st Connections. While this is one of the best and worst ideas from LinkedIn, this can be a tempting way to both help and hinder your connections. Go out of your way to endorse the skills of connections that you personally know and the skills that you are familiar with.
This feature will give your 1st Connections the ability to do the same for you, but you may find that you are being endorsed for skills that are not exactly related to your career goals. LinkedIn may recommend "related" skills based on other keywords in your profile. For example, you may have described leadership roles in your experience but your immediate career goals are focused on entry-level positions in a new field. Having an endorsement for "Training" will not be as effective as asking someone to endorse you for a skill that applies to your immediate career goals.
strategy #1: Ask Your 1st Connections for Endorsements
When you update your profile with new skills, private message a few of your 1st Connections and ask for an endorsement. In your message, tell your connection that you are spending some time updating and improving your profile. Fill them in on your career goals, what you've been doing to boost your skills, and what's coming up for you in the next few months.
Ask the connection to endorse a specific skill or two. Explain that their endorsement will help polish your profile and that you would be happy to do the same. Ask for an update and which skills they would like to see endorsed to help boost their profile as well.
Strategy #2: Endorse Your Connections First
A more passive (and slightly less effective) approach is to endorse a 1st Connection's skill first. It's likely that you will receive a quick "Thanks!" in a message and maybe the connection will return the favor without being asked.
The downside to this approach is you don't know if that endorsement will support his or her career goals or if it was an empty endorsement. You also don't get a chance to share which skill you would like to see endorsed. Make the most of your endorsements.
Strategy #3: Ask For a Recommendation
While endorsements are great social proof of your skills, think of recommendations as a review on the "Yelp for Professionals." In fact, recommendations are replacing "letters of recommendation." Recommendations give personal accounts and specific examples of how you have applied your skills and what may have resulted.
Recommendations are just as easy to request as endorsements. I recommend sending a private message that asks for a recommendation highlighting a specific skill or achievement. Once the connection agrees, you can click "Request a recommendation" from the connection's profile. LinkedIn will guide you through setting up the request and will notify you when you've received the recommendation.
Private message a few of your connections to request endorsements or a recommendation.