Resumes vs. LinkedIn Profiles: What You Need to Knowby Robert Hellmann
You can create an effective LinkedIn profile by following many of the same principles that I would recommend for your resume. For example, focus on accomplishments, have a summary section, use keywords that resonate with your audience, etc. etc. (see this blog post and this one for other guidelines). Three key differences in the way that resumes and profiles are shared, however, could have a big impact on how you choose to modify your resume for your profile.
1. Only one LinkedIn Profile, so you need to choose
It is impractical and confusing to spread your network across multiple profiles (unlike your resume, where you can and should have a different resume for each job target). Having only one profile means that you will have to decide whether to go more general, to encompass multiple job targets, or to focus your profile on your primary job target only.
Your decision will depend on your specific situation. By focusing on one job-target, you maximize the likelihood that someone from your target audience reading your profile will quickly grasp how you can help them. I recommend that you try writing your profile for your primary job target, IF the “cost” doesn’t out way the benefit. By cost I mean missed opportunities or puzzled looks from your boss or colleagues who wonder why your profile says something very different from what you are currently doing!
Warning: In case you accidentally open up more than one profile (search under your name if you are unsure), close one down to avoid major confusion in building and updating your network (Note: You cannot transfer connections from one profile to another).
2. Your LinkedIn Profile has a broader viewing audience
It is sometimes not a good idea to list certain specific accomplishments on your profile that you would have no problem listing on your resume, because of the profile’s broader viewing audience. You will need to be the judge of when that’s the case.
3. Having a LinkedIn Profile doesn’t mean you’re looking for a job
While your resume equals “job search,” the same is not true for your LinkedIn Profile. If you are actively looking, you may want to indicate that somewhere on your LinkedIn profile (assuming you don’t have a current employer who will care). This way, potential employers may be more likely to contact you.
I say “may” because there is a case to be made that a potential employer will be more interested in you if you appear to be fully and happily employed. And, if you are going out and getting what you want in a job search rather than waiting for the recruiter to call, as I recommend, indicating on your profile that you are looking becomes less important.
Nevertheless, some clients have gotten responses by indicating an openness to new opportunities on their profiles, which is why I suggest that you consider it. If you feel that in your case it makes sense to let people know that you are looking, do one or more of the following:
- Edit “Contact Preferences” (bottom of your profile) to include career and job opportunities. In my opinion, you should do this even if you are currently “happily” employed. Since so many employed people check these boxes, it will likely not be looked at askance by your current employer.
- Since the Contact Preferences section is buried at the bottom of your profile, you may want to enter near the top of your Profile Summary section “Looking for my next great challenge,” “Open to new opportunities,” or something similar. NEVER put “unemployed” or “looking for a job” on your profile—these phrases have negative connotations and will turn off a potential employer.
- Alternatively, if you are not working, you could enter one of the phrases in the bullet above as your current job title.
Some advocate that you put these phrases in the “headline” at the top of your profile, under your name—so it’s the first thing a potential employer sees. I do not advocate this approach. Since your headline can only be 120 characters, it is better to use this limited space as an opportunity to share a “mini-pitch,” that is, a concise statement about how you can help a potential employer.
What have your experiences been with indicating that you are looking for a job in your profile?