How do I get listed in LinkedIn Skills?

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LinkedIn rolled out its new Skills feature earlier this month in beta mode. Adding skills to your profile is simple enough. Just go to your profile when logged in and scroll down to find “Add sections”, choose “Skills” and click “Add to profile”.

When adding skills take time to find the right option as it’s not always clear, for example you can be skilled in both Graduate Recruitment or College Recruiting. You can then choose proficiency level and years of experience. So that’s how to add skills to your profile – getting listed on the Skills page is much more difficult. I’ve listed myself under “training and development” but my profile fails to feature in the ‘top 8’!

It’s sure that the new Skills feature is a useful feature for checking you’re competitive and keeping ahead of the curve. Last year LinkedIn announced the ten most overused buzz words in LinkedIn profiles including words like ‘motivated’, ‘innovative’ and ‘team player’ which have been plastered over thousands of profiles. Their point was that many profiles were failing to stand out of the crowd.

But the new skills feature brings a problem – how do you stand out from the crowd whilst associating yourself with the kinds of skills employers or potential clients are commonly searching for? According to the tool Social Media is currently the 60th fastest growing skill and the 46th most popular. In terms of promoting yourself if you’re an online marketing professional, what does this mean? That you need to keep up-to-date and include it on your profile, or that it’s too popular and you’re better off choosing a different term?

Of course it’s very easy to call yourself an xyz expert and those on LinkedIn will no doubt soon become very familiar with (and used to dismissing) those proclaiming expertise. The Skills feature alone is not going to get you far – combine it with a filled in profile and also as many recommendations as you can get, as no one can copy you there.

I think the most useful and interesting part is being able to compare the growth to other similar skills. For example, if you have expertise in dancing you can see that Tap is the most popular skill, but Salsa has a higher rate of growth. Even though LinkedIn’s pre-defined skills options maybe limited and their differentiations sometimes unclear, it’s nevertheless an effective way to keep an eye on what’s popular and what’s growing.

You’ll need to be specific though to have any hope of coming up on the skills pages, for example try a search for “Web” and find Barack Obama as number one professional followed by only slightly more realistic Pete Cashmore from Mashable. To conclude, I can tell you how to list your skills, but I have no idea how you can get listed on that particular skills page – if you do, let me know!

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Claire Walsh is the Managing Director of Learning Consultancy Partnership, a leadership training, business coaching and consultancy provider in Brighton.