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Mar 3 2016
Are you using the right tool for the job? As an executive resume and LinkedIn profile writer, a common misconception I come across in my work is the belief that a LinkedIn profile should be merely an online version of one’s resume.
It’s true that your LinkedIn profile communicates much of the same type of information found on your resume—Experience, Education, Certifications, and more. And it’s true that the resume and LinkedIn profile should both communicate the same well-defined executive brand (as should the other tools in your job-search toolbox, such as your cover letter or executive bio). However, creating a carbon copy of your resume demonstrates a very narrow understanding of the multifaceted tool that LinkedIn is.
Simply put, although LinkedIn is critical for conducting an effective job search, it is not only a job search tool. It is a powerful networking tool—your profile should be crafted with this important difference in mind.
One obvious difference between a resume and LinkedIn profile is that LinkedIn affords you the opportunity to feature more expansive and more dynamic content; whereas with a resume, you are restricted to one to three pages (with an increasing trend toward brevity). A resume doesn’t allow for detailed descriptions of projects, recommendations and endorsements from others, blog posts or SlideShare presentations that demonstrate your expertise, or for adding a professionally made video bio. These are features that only LinkedIn provides that you should use to your advantage.
But these more obvious differences aside, the following are recommendations on how your LinkedIn profile should differ from your resume to make the most of this unique tool.
Your LinkedIn profile should be written in a different tone and share a different dimension to your story. Let’s face it―resumes are somewhat cold, fact-based documents written in a language that omits the “I,” impersonalizing them to some extent. A LinkedIn profile, written from a first-person narrative, not only allows your personality to shine through, but it also affords you an opportunity to share a side of the story the resume simply can’t reflect. This enhances an employer’s understanding of who you are rather than wasting their time with duplicated content.
Consider the following two examples, where the LinkedIn profile offers a more personal take.
RESUME SENTENCE: Promoted rapidly through a series of sales positions of increasing levels of responsibility based on overperformance.
LINKEDIN SENTENCE: As a top-producing sales professional with XYZ Enterprise, I was given a wealth of opportunities to grow in my leadership capabilities.
RESUME SENTENCE: Contributed to the success of a leading consulting firm, managing key international projects for clients in varying industries in the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.
LINKEDIN SENTENCE: This role not only exposed me to a number of different industries, but it also gave me the unique opportunity to master the complexities of leading multicultural teams by managing projects on three continents.
Your LinkedIn profile should be tailored to a different audience. A resume is a tool that you distribute to recruiters or those who are in a position to hire you for specific employment opportunities. However, a LinkedIn profile may be read by everyone within your professional realm (and beyond)—current and former colleagues up and down the chain of command, potential clients, suppliers you may be negotiating with, or attendees of a talk you’ve given.
If you repeat verbatim the content of your resume, you miss this critical difference. Thus, you’ll want to carefully consider the message you are sending to all of those who may search for your profile—not just potential employers. You may not want to send the message to potential clients, team members, or those you report to that you are currently on the job market. With this in mind, craft a LinkedIn profile that depicts someone whose expertise and achievements shine but who is very secure in their position, who is passionate about their current role, who recognizes the efforts of their team members, and who is proud of the organization they represent.
Your LinkedIn profile should consider SEO value. While space is often a concern when writing a resume, on LinkedIn, you are rewarded in the search engines for expansive content. Therefore, you’ll want to:
- Write an expansive summary and experience section that is rich in accomplishments and on-target industry keywords; more content means better SEO.
- Add more than just your job title in the headline and job title fields, such as additional keywords or areas of expertise, given how heavily indexed they are in LinkedIn searches (a strategy that wouldn’t make much sense on a resume).
- List all 50 permitted skills, even if you choose some synonymous terms. These will add important keywords and give your profile an SEO bump, whereas it would be overkill to list 50 skills on a resume.
In sum, don’t underestimate the differences between the necessarily concise and relatively confidential job-search tool that is a resume and the highly public networking tool that is a LinkedIn profile, which not only allows for more expansive content, but in fact rewards you for it. And perhaps most important, give potential employers something new to learn about you when they visit your profile—something that will add to the strength of your candidacy.
For more advice on your LinkedIn profile, register for our upcoming webinar: How to Optimize Your Executive LinkedIn Profile.