Specialties Vs. Skills on LinkedIn
By Joe Butler
Your LinkedIn profile is an online resume that shows others in your industry or network of business associates your unique combination of knowledge and talents. Members – and perhaps future employers – can see whatever information you've chosen to list about yourself, including your education, work history and interests. The Skills section of your profile, which replaces a previous section called Specialties, lets you list some specific areas in which you excel.
Change of Specialty Status
If you used LinkedIn prior to 2011, you may recall entering Specialties, which basically was a box for you to type in everything from a single word like “French” to multiple sentences detailing how you acquired a certain set of attributes. According to Donna Serdula, an author and blogger on LinkedIn MakeOver, the Specialties area was often inconsistently used by members. LinkedIn merely tells users that component has been removed.
The Skills component, which was added in 2011, creates a uniform way for every member to refer to the same assets. Instead of an open-ended field, LinkedIn gives you one box in which you can add up to 50 keywords. Viewers of your profile can click on a keyword and learn more about that particular skill, including companies in which that skill is common, other professionals with that skill and LinkedIn groups with that skill.
To add skills, click to "Profile," then "Edit your Profile." Choose "Add a Skill" from the Skills and Experience box, then add a keyword or keywords for a skill (for example, "social networking.") Most skills likely already exist among the millions of LinkedIn profiles. Users can list up to 50 skills.
If you're looking for a place to put the information you used to put in Specialties, LinkedIn suggests adding them to the Skills and Expertise menu. Career Horizons, a job blog, also suggests including such information in the Summary section, since these all can be items that make you professionally unique and that prospective employers may see right away when they look at your profile.
Joe Butler has been part of the journalism and marketing side of newspapers in Washington and Idaho for more than 20 years, ranging from small weeklies and dailies to larger metro papers to still-developing online platforms. He has a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from Central Washington University.