Everything You Need for a Great LinkedIn Skills Section
Think your LinkedIn skills section is just like your resume’s skills section? Think again. Learn how to craft this underutilized section for better results in your job search.
By: Grace Mitchell | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
If you want your LinkedIn profile to help you land a job, a strong skills section is essential. Many job seekers don’t know how to use this section to its full potential, but lucky for you, we’ve got the tips and tricks you need to get this section working for you.
Before we dive in, though, it’s worth mentioning that your skills section is just one aspect of a strong LinkedIn profile. Filling out this section completely and getting endorsements makes your profile more visible to recruiters, but that isn’t worth much if the rest of your profile is lacking. Use the same attention to detail you devote to your skills section to all of your LinkedIn presence, and you’re bound to attract the attention your skills deserve.
Tired of not landing interviews?
Get our free 3-step guide to writing better resume bullet points, featuring 70 ideas for metrics you can use!
With that cleared up, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what makes a great skills section, starting with how it differs from the skills section on your resume.
What Makes Your LinkedIn Skills Section Different From Your Resume Skills Section
While some job seekers simply copy over their skills from their resume in their LinkedIn skills section, this really isn’t the best way to go about it. LinkedIn allows for up to 50 skills, a number we hope you aren’t approaching in your resume – remember, your resume should be as short and relevant as possible.
While your resume should only list those skills which directly relate to the specific job you’re applying for, LinkedIn gives you the space to add skills relevant to more jobs that you might be targeting.
Recruiters can easily skim through and seek out the skills they’re looking for, making this a great tool for those transitioning into new careers or starting a job search for the first time.
Fill the Entire Section
When we say that you can add up to 50 skills to this section, we really mean that you should use all 50 spaces given. Millions of recruiters use LinkedIn each day, and using as many terms as possible for your skills makes it more likely that your profile will come up in a search.
LinkedIn’s skill section gives users the option to auto-complete what they’re typing, so you can add synonyms for your skills in order to attract more recruiters. For instance, my background is primarily in customer service, and my LinkedIn skills section lists “customer service,” “customer-focused service,” and “interpersonal skills” among my skills. While these terms are similar, I have no way of knowing which a recruiter would be more likely to search for or to add to add to a LinkedIn job description, so having all three in my profile gives me better odds of being found for relevant jobs.
While you should be mentioning industry-specific skills in your profile, don’t forget about transferable skills and other skills recruiters want to see. LinkedIn automatically sorts your skills into four categories: industry knowledge, tools and technologies, interpersonal skills, and other skills.
While you may be tempted to only list industry-specific skills, ideally, you’ll want a mix of all of these. After all, most jobs require some degree of knowledge about certain technologies, and recruiters like to know that a potential candidate plays well with others.
Some Key Skills and Their Synonyms
You may be wondering what synonyms to use for your specific industry. While this is in no way comprehensive, here are some skills for common industries:
Content marketing and content strategy
Leadership, team leadership, mentoring, coaching
Software development, web development, web engineering, front-end development, full-stack development
You can also try searching for skills from your industry in LinkedIn’s search bar and looking through well-made profiles to get more ideas for skills to include. Look for users who have a strong headline and professional cover photo, as these are more likely to have put time into filling out all their available skills.
Choose Your Top Three Skills
While you can add 50 skills, only the top three will display on your profile unless the person reading it chooses to “see all skills.” That means that the first three skills should be the ones that best represent what you have to offer. Your top three will default to the three most-endorsed skills on your profile (more on endorsements later), but you can and should rearrange these in any order you like.
To reorder your skills, simply click the pencil on your skills section on your profile to edit, and then click the three dots on the following screen. The drop down gives you the option to reorder, allowing you to click the lines to the right of any skill and simply drag them to anywhere in the list you’d like.
Reordering your skills allows you to list your most relevant skills right away. This is also useful when making a career transition, as you can opt to make your transferable skills most prominent on your profile. You can even search for skills to brainstorm your next career move if you’re not quite ready to take that leap.
Getting Endorsed for Your Skills on LinkedIn
“You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and tell lies?” There’s a reason this question Buster asks in the PBS classic Arthur became a meme, and it’s definitely not because the internet is known as a consistently reliable source. Given the free rein users have over their LinkedIn profiles, how will recruiters know the information in your skills section is accurate?
LinkedIn makes this easy by allowing users to endorse their connections’ skills. Endorsements add to your credibility by confirming that people you’ve worked with have seen your skills in action and can verify that you have what it takes to call your skill a skill.
The internet may still be a place of lies, but at least on LinkedIn this user interaction shows others you’re legit (and helps you as a job seeker avoid scammers and other ne’er-do-wells).
To give a friend an endorsement, simply go to their profile and click “endorse” under the skill you’d like to confirm. There’s no button to click to let someone know you’d like an endorsement, but you can also reach out to your connections and ask that they return the favor. (It’s also likely that if you’re generous with giving endorsements that others will endorse your skills even if you don’t ask, but don’t count on it.)
It’s also worth mentioning that endorsements aren’t the same as recommendations. An endorsement simply attests that you have a certain skill, while a recommendation is more of a broad review of how great you are to work with. Ideally you’ll want both, but they don’t serve the same purpose.
Help! I’m Not Good Enough at ____ to List it as a Skill!
This section goes out to our fellow job seekers who struggle with imposter syndrome. You’re not alone, and we promise you’re far more capable than you think.
It’s easy to feel a bit stuck trying to think of 50 professional skills you trust you’re good enough to list. If that’s the case for you, we recommend thinking through a standard day at work. What tasks do you do every day? What do your coworkers and/or boss mention about your work? What are your favorite things that you get to do at work?
If you’re performing a task every day and don’t regularly struggle with it, then guess what! You’ve had enough experience to add it to your LinkedIn skills section.
If your coworkers laud your ability to problem-solve or how well you interact with children, not only should you list these in your profile, but you should also list synonyms and ask those coworkers if they’d be willing to endorse those skills for all to see.
For instance, in my work at my public library job, my coworkers often compliment my memory, which allows me to greet patrons by name when they come in. I can ask my coworkers to vouch for my attention to detail and interpersonal skills on LinkedIn for my next career move.
You can even take courses and take skills assessments within LinkedIn to strengthen and confirm your skills. At the top right corner of your skills section, there’s a button that says “Take skill quiz.” While taking courses to improve your skills requires a paid membership (or at least a trial), you can take 15-question quizzes in a variety of subjects to earn a badge that will appear on your profile.
Your LinkedIn Skills Section: The Skills to Succeed
Networking has come a long way in recent years, and LinkedIn’s essential role in this job search strategy only continues to grow. Crafting a LinkedIn profile that represents your brand and all you have to offer can be a gamechanger in the job search.
When used appropriately, your LinkedIn skills section can be a value tool to get you ahead in your job search. By listing 50 skills, moving your most relevant skills to the top of your list, getting endorsements, and owning what a pro you are in your work, you’re well on your way to crafting a LinkedIn profile that’s sure to attract recruiters.
Ready for more job search help?
Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what's holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!