Great LinkedIn profiles and resumes have a lot in common, including highly targeted, keyword-rich and concise content, accomplishment-oriented bullets and a powerful summary section. Because of these similarities, copying your resume content right into your LinkedIn profile is often a good idea. Yet in some situations you’ll want to take a different approach to your profile.
Only one LinkedIn profile vs. multiple resume versions
You should only have one LinkedIn account and profile, to avoid confusing your network and diminishing the ability of LinkedIn to help you. On the other hand, you’ll want to have a different resume for each job target, that is, each combination of position description and type of organization.
If you have multiple job targets, you’ll need to decide whether to write your LinkedIn profile more broadly to encompass all of them or more narrowly. With the former approach, you’ll broaden your profile’s appeal but you’ll also be watering down your pitch for any one of those individual targets. With the latter approach, you’ll be creating a stronger pitch for a specific target audience while narrowing your appeal to just that audience.
I recommend writing your profile for just your primary target (that is, copying and pasting from your resume) if it won’t “cost” you too much. By cost, I mean either 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. For example, a client who was a financial controller wanted to move into an information technology role, so on her resume we focused on her IT experience. But on her profile, we had to emphasize both her Finance and IT experience so as not to raise alarm with her current colleagues that she was in a search.
Your profile has greater visibility than your resume
Far fewer people will view your resume than will view your profile. Greater visibility on LinkedIn means it’s much more likely that a current or previous employer would see your profile. If you’ve brought over any specific results from your resume that they might consider inappropriate to share or a violation of confidentiality, you may want to modify this content on your profile. For example, one client changed his resume accomplishment “Increased revenue by $37 million” to “Increased revenue by 17%.” He might have also changed it to “Substantially increased revenue.”
LinkedIn is Social Media
The social component of LinkedIn gives you license to optionally use personal pronouns, as in “I led my team in achieving…” instead of the resume approach: “Led team in achieving…” In addition, depending on the nature of your job, you may want to add something more personal to the “About” section beyond what’s in the resume Summary section. For example, one of my clients wrote “I take great pride in all that our team has accomplished around…”
What I recommend you don’t do on LinkedIn is use the third person, for example, “Robert Hellmann led his team in achieving…” Social media is by definition about building relationships. Using the third person is not conducive to relationship-building and may convey that you don’t quite understand the medium.
Having a LinkedIn profile doesn’t mean you’re in a job search
Having a resume suggests a job search, while having a LinkedIn profile does not. So, should you signal that you’re looking for a job on your profile? With the exception of certain job-search settings on LinkedIn that aren’t plainly visible, the answer is no.
Some LinkedIn profile sections don’t exist in resumes
Make sure you fully fill out as many sections as you can, including the ones that don’t have a resume counterpart. If you do so, you’ll be more likely to both turn up in someone’s search for interview candidates and strengthen your first impression.
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