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NextGen Magazine


LinkedIn Refocuses Its Approach to Emphasize Critical Skills

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Apr 10, 2023

After 20 years in business, LinkedIn is reconsidering how its users should present themselves, Fast Company reported, and it is putting a greater emphasis on skills.

Introduced in May 2003, the site’s very idea was startling to some: sharing one’s professional and education background online. It was considered strange and, perhaps, disloyal to one’s current employer.

Since then, however, the site has thrived, with millions of users. But Chief Operating Officer Dan Shapero sees the manner in which candidates present themselves on the platform to be out of step with today’s recruitment needs.

“The more you watch companies recruit, the more you realize that we are rooted in processes that start with with ‘What school did you go to? Where did you work? What role did you have?’” he said. “What we realized is that, in fact, there are tons of people out there in the world that have critical skills that aren’t being found. And when you look at why they’re not being found, it’s because they don’t have the traditional markers [that help] companies know how to find what they’re looking for.”

As employers seek to diversify their talent pool, the standard résumé may not tell the whole story about a candidate’s job suitability. Indeed, “living in a high-income neighborhood, going to a top school, working at a top company can give folks a 12-times advantage in gaining access to opportunity,” said Vice President of Engineering Ya Xu, citing the company’s own data. Thus, the new shift in emphasis to skills. 

Linkedin has also addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by offering 16,000 online courses to help workers improve their skills or learn new ones. “If you want to move from [being] a cashier to a customer success rep, there’s already an overlap of 70 percent of your skills,” Chief Product Officer Tomer Cohen told Fast Company. “There’s a couple of skills you need to learn. You can learn them on LinkedIn and get that opportunity.”

The company also created a skills graph to understand how members and their abilities relate to job openings and their requirements.

“What the skills graph does is dynamically map relationships across different entities,” said Xu. “We can map a member to different kinds of skills. We can map a job to different skills that it requires. We can map a company to different skills.”

As CEO Ryan Rolasnsky put it, the data and tools “help companies take a skills-first approach to talent development, as well as features that empower our members to take their careers into their own hands.” Examples included LinkedIn Recruiter, which finds job candidates based on relevant skills, and a LinkedIn Learning feature called Pathfinder that asked members about their career goals before recommending relevant skills-building courses. Earlier this year, the company introduced a Professional Certificates feature that offers courses from providers such as Zendesk and Microsoft, Hari Srinivasan, LinkedIn's vice president of product management, told Fast Company.

Srinivasan also said that the data showed that the effort is working, as 44 percent of recruiters take a skills-based approach to finding suitable candidates.

“You’re going to see us invest a lot more around this idea of skills as the atoms that make up the professional world,” said Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s editor-in-chief, who oversees its content strategy. “It changes how we think about the jobs you see and the content you see, and the kind of stuff we try to encourage you to talk about, and the knowledge we ask you to share, or the knowledge we put in front of you.”