Resumes get a lot of attention, especially from job seekers. Most people spend hours upon hours revising, tweaking and perfecting their resume. Then, when all the finishing touches have been added, they simply copy and paste the resume into their LinkedIn profile.
Sure, this strategy works. It’s an easy way to get started on LinkedIn. But making your profile an exact replica of your resume is less than ideal for a number of reasons.
In truth, these two items (resumes and LinkedIn) actually have very different purposes. They should, therefore, be treated differently. In order to get the most out of each one, you should understand their role in the job search process and leverage best practices for each.
Broadly speaking, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to show more of your personality. Think of it as a conversation starter. Unlike a resume, which is primarily used to determine whether or not a candidate is qualified for a certain job, the LinkedIn profile is more often used to gain a general impression of who the candidate is as a professional. It is also used as a tool to help recruiters source candidates (meaning they find people who have the skills they want and approach them with opportunities).
Consequently, there are some important things to keep in mind regarding the differences between these two job search tools.
With a resume, you have the ability to adjust your headline based on the specific job you’re targeting. You can customize it for each application if you want, changing the words to match the target job description for example.
However, you don’t have that same flexibility with LinkedIn. You only have one profile and it needs to brand you appropriately regardless of the specific job you may be targeting. So, instead of using a title for your headline, you may wish to simply use keywords related to your most important job functions and competencies. That way, you’re more likely to show up in a search if and when recruiters look for someone with your skillset.
When it comes to writing a traditional resume, there is a very specific set of rules you are expected to follow. For example, you should never use personal pronouns (such as “I” or “my”) and you should always adopt a formal tone, using concise, clear and direct wording rather than fancy, flowery language. Not following these rules can make you appear out-of-step and amateurish.
However, the same rules do not apply on LinkedIn. Again, this is the place to show your personality! You are more than welcome to use a friendly and conversational tone. Plus, first person voice is highly recommended. Write your profile as if you were talking to a new professional contact—you want to sound casual and engaging, but still well-spoken.
The summary area of a resume should always be short and sweet. It’s designed to quickly capture attention and make a powerful pitch. Most people include a sentence or two that highlights key qualifications and accomplishments, but not much more.
Conversely, the LinkedIn summary area is meant to be extensive—the more you write, the more people will find you. You have 2000 characters available (though you don’t have to use them all).
This area can be used to really make a connection with the reader. Tell your career “story” and highlight your most impressive achievements. You can even add examples of your work (like videos, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations). If you find yourself writing a lot, just be sure to add some simple formatting, like line breaks, to make it easy to read. Also, make sure you’re sharing relevant information that demonstrates your value in the workplace.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your LinkedIn profile is just an online resume. It’s actually so much more. You want your profile to enhance and enrich your resume—and vice versa. Follow the “rules” for each, and you’ll be perfectly positioned for a successful job search.