As part of their efforts to engage users, LinkedIn introduced Skill Badges in 2020 as a way for members to showcase their expertise and credentials in various subject areas.
But do these digital badges really mean anything? Or are they just superficial decorations that look nice on a profile?
In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of LinkedIn Skill Badges and look at whether they provide any real value.
The Purpose of LinkedIn Skill Badges
According to LinkedIn, the goal of Skill Badges is to “help professionals showcase their verified skills while also giving employers a way to spot qualified candidates.” They are intended to display mastery and competency in subjects ranging from project management and data science to marketing and finance.
Skill Badges serve multiple purposes:
- For job seekers, they can highlight areas of expertise to make their profiles stand out.
- For employers, they provide a quick way to identify candidate skills that match open positions.
- They add visual indicators to profiles that break up blocks of written content.
- They incentivize LinkedIn users to take assessments to earn badges.
In theory, Skill Badges offer benefits for both talent and employers on LinkedIn. But how well do they actually work in practice?
The Pros: Why Skill Badges Have Value
There are several advantages to displaying Skill Badges on a LinkedIn profile:
They Verify Skills and Abilities
To earn a Skill Badge, LinkedIn users must pass an assessment testing their knowledge in that subject area. These assessments were created by industry experts and leading brands. Passing one demonstrates a certain level of proficiency.
They Provide Recognition for Achievement
Displaying Skill Badges gives professionals a way to get credit for the skills they have developed. It’s a form of digital credentialing.
They Grab Recruiter Attention
With an average of just 7 seconds spent looking at each profile, recruiters value seeing visual signals. Skill Badges stand out and highlight areas of expertise.
They Help Showcase Skills to a Wider Audience
Beyond just recruiters, Skill Badges share skills with a professional’s entire network. This allows connections, colleagues, and peers to quickly see areas someone is skilled in.
They Add Dimension to Word-Heavy Profiles
Most LinkedIn profiles consist of printed descriptions and bullet points. Skill Badges incorporate more visual elements to break up heavy blocks of text.
They Motivate Learning and Development
The process of unlocking Skill Badges encourages professionals to expand their knowledge. Earning badges requires assessment prep and learning new information.
The Cons: Why Skill Badges May Have Minimal Value
Despite their perks for profile enhancement, several issues surround the real meaning and impact of LinkedIn Skill Badges:
Assessments May Not Prove Competency
Passing a short online test is very different from applying skills in a real-world environment. The assessments may be gamed and don’t necessarily reflect ability.
They Haven’t Been Widely Adopted Yet
Currently, Skill Badges aren’t found on most LinkedIn profiles. Until they achieve critical mass, they won’t have the same signaling power and value.
They Don’t Replace Work Experience and Proven Impact
At the end of the day, recruiters and hiring managers care more about what candidates have actually accomplished in past roles. Badges are no substitute for work experience.
Their Value Depends on Visibility Settings
To get the full benefits, Skill Badges must be made visible to the “Public” audience. If they are only viewable by a professional’s connections, the impact is diminished.
There Are Only Badges for Limited Skill Areas
While LinkedIn is expanding Skill Badges, right now they only cover popular domains like marketing, software development, and business administration. Many skills aren’t eligible yet.
They May Contribute to Resume Embellishment
Padding profiles with Skill Badges could enable professionals to misrepresent their actual abilities. Recruiters must still vet claims thoroughly.
The Bottom Line: Should You Acquire LinkedIn Skill Badges?
Given the potential upsides and downsides, what’s the verdict – are LinkedIn Skill Badges worth pursuing?
Here are some guidelines on when it makes sense to acquire them:
- If you’re looking to enhance your profile and stand out in the job market, Skill Badges can help showcase your capabilities.
- They are most valuable for entry to mid-level professionals trying to expand their credentials.
- Pursue badges that are directly relevant to your industry, experience, and the roles you want.
- View badges as supplements to a profile, not replacements for proven skills and accomplishments.
- Be selective – a few, strategic Skill Badges go farther than collecting dozens.
The bottom line is that Skill Badges do have benefits, but need to be used judiciously. They are not a silver bullet qualification. Approach them as helpful add-ons that reinforce, rather than define, your professional capabilities.
LinkedIn Skill Badges offer a quick way for professionals to highlight areas of expertise and credentials. They provide visual signals that grab recruiter attention and motivation to acquire new skills.
However, their true value depends on visibility settings, adoption levels, and whether they are used to embellish or misrepresent abilities.
Ultimately, Skill Badges should complement strong work experience and career achievements. They serve best as supporting evidence of skills, not primary qualifications.
With strategic and selective use, Skill Badges can enhance a LinkedIn profile and career trajectory.