LinkedIn, a business and employment-oriented service that show-cases users professional identity, is today taking the wraps off its latest effort to provide its users with better tools for presenting their professional selves. This new Skills Assessment feature is designed to make the process of recruitment on the platform more effective.
The tool offers short, multiple-choice tests that users can take to verify their knowledge in areas like computer languages, software packages and other work-related skills.
The new LinkedIn feature is being rolled out globally today but in a small test mode. The company says the new tool has already surpassed the popularity test as over 2 million tests have already been taken and applied across the platform.
So far, English-language tests covering some 75 different skills, all free to take are high up the rank. However, according to Emrecan Dogan, the group product manager in its talent solutions division, is to “ramp that up agressively” in the near future, both adding in different languages and more test areas.
The new skills assessment tool is coming at the most important moment for LinkedIn.
With an enormous user base of nearly 650 million people around the globe, the Microsoft-owned company offers social networking tools for users to connect with each other for professional purposes (most often to network, talk about work, or find work).
Why the new LinkedIn skills assessment tool is important
A platform this large makes for a lucrative economy of scale when it comes to rolling out its products. However, every coin has two sides. As the platform gets bigger, the harder it gets to track and verify details about each and every individual on it. The latest skills assessment test becomes one way of at least being able to verify certain people’s skills in specific areas, and for that information to start feeding into other channels and products on the platform.
Also, as a critical competitive move: LinkedIn is undoubtedly the biggest platform of its kind on the internet today, but smaller rivals are building interesting products to chip away at that lead in specific areas. Triplebyte, for example, has created a platform for those looking to hire engineers, and engineers looking for new roles, to connect by way of the engineers — yes — taking online tests to measure their skills and match them up with compatible job opportunities. Triplebyte is focused on just one field — software engineering — but the template is a disruptive one that, if replicated in other verticals, could slowly start to chip away at LinkedIn’s hegemony.
And testing on actual skills is just one area where verification has fallen short on LinkedIn: another big trend in recruitment is the push for more diverse workforces. The thinking is that traditionally too many of the parameters that have been used up to now to assess people — what college was attended, or where people have worked already — have been essentially cutting many already-disenfranchised groups out of the process. Given that LinkedIn currently has no way of ascertaining when people on its platform are from minority backgrounds, a skills assessment — and especially a good result on one — might potentially help tip the balance in favor of meritrocracy (if not proactive diversity focused hiring as such).
For regular users, the option to take skills assessments and add them to your profile will appear for users as a button in the skills and endorsements area of their profiles. Users take short tests — currently only multiple choice — which Dogan says are created by professionals who are subject area experts that already work with LinkedIn, for example to write content for LinkedIn learning.
These tests measure your knowledge in specific areas, and if you pass, you are given a badge that you can apply to your profile page, and potentially broadcast out to those who are looking for people with the skills you’ve just verified you have. (This is presuming that you are not cheating and having someone else take the test for you, or taking it while looking up answers elsewhere.) You can opt out of sharing the information anywhere else, if you choose.
If you fail, you have three months to wait before taking it again, and in the meantime LinkedIn will use the moment to upsell you on its other content: you get offered LinkedIn Learning tests to improve your skills.
For those who pass, they will need to retake tests every year to keep their badges and credentials.
Recruiters can also be able to use the data that gets amassed through the tests as a way of better filtering out users when sourcing candidate pools for job openings. This is a huge issue on a platform like LinkedIn: while having a large group of people on there is a boost for finding matches, in fact there can be too many, and too much of a challenge and time suck to figure out who is genuinely suitable for a particular role.
The skills also provide LinkedIn with vital information about its users. For example, those who are putting in ads for jobs may now have the option to buy ads that are targeted specifically to people with certain skills that have been verified through assessments.