The way we find jobs and pitch ourselves to prospective employers is changing rapidly, and LinkedIn is trying to help you stay ahead of the game. The "social network for professionals" recently introduced a new feature called Endorsements that, with a little help from your coworkers and close friends, can help you catch the eye of recruiters who are short on time but long on candidates.
Give a quick overview of your skills
Endorsing someone is a bit like tagging a photo on Flickr. Add just a few tags, er, skills, to your LinkedIn profile, and recruiters can find you more easily and get a quick overview of your areas of expertise. You can also meet other LinkedIn members with similar interests and get a better idea about related fields that you could branch into or specialize in.
Let yourself see more of the big picture
When you're logged into LinkedIn.com, the Skills & Expertise menu (More > Skills & Expertise) at the top lets you search for skills to add to your profile. Type a few letters of an "area of expertise" into the search box, and LinkedIn will suggest matches and (ideally) more-specific terms. Click a suggestion to add it to your profile, and you'll see a page that tells you more about the skill, related skills that you might want to focus on, geographical locations where related positions are especially common, and fellow LinkedIn members that you could reach out to.
Your skills appear on your profile, and the real magic commences after you add a few. When your coworkers and friends log in to LinkedIn, a big blue box at the top of the site will ask them to endorse you and confirm that you possess the skills you claim. Contacts can also visit your LinkedIn profile to see this box.
To endorse someone, simply click the relevant Endorse button. It requires much less of a time commitment than writing a LinkedIn Recommendation does--so it's an easy way to obtain and display second opinions that back up your expertise.
Manage your endorsements
Did you receive an endorsement from a distant friend or a contentious former coworker that you'd rather not show on your public profile? Did someone add a skill to your profile that you're not comfortable with? You can hide rogue endorsements from your LinkedIn profile by editing it (Profile > Edit Profile): Scroll to the Skills & Expertise section, click the Edit button (it looks like a pencil), and then switch to the Manage Endorsements tab.
You can add a total of 50 skills to your profile, but only 10 can be displayed with endorsements, so choose wisely.
Is it worth it?
You may be wondering whether doing any of this is worthwhile, even though touching up your profile doesn't take much time. Anecdotally, I can tell you that I've been recruited three times on the basis of my LinkedIn profile, by reputable companies with great offers.
On a broader scale,recruiters have long looked at written LinkedIn Recommendations and the people who wrote them, but the Endorsements feature is only a few months old. The job market is intensely competitive, and this simple way to offer a possible employer a quick overview of your potential value could give you an edge over candidates who require recruiters to read all 1000 words of their profile.
This story, "Work it: LinkedIn endorsements explained" was originally published by Macworld.