LinkedIn Profiles vs. Resumes: What’s the Difference?

linkedin profiles and resumesA question I am often asked in my duties as LinkedIn’s Ambassador is, “Should my LinkedIn profile read the same as my resume?”  The answer is both yes and no.  Here’s a breakdown:

LinkedIn Profiles and Resumes: The Similarities

1.) Sections.  As Martin Yate explains in his post on this subject, you can get a quick start to your LinkedIn profile if you copy and paste some information from your already existing resume into it.  Profiles have sections similar to your resume: Education, Experience, Skills, Organizations, etc.

2.) Keywords and phrases.  On your resume, it is critical to include keywords and phrases that match job descriptions and mirror your industry.  Hiring managers and human resources teams have applicant tracking systems that scan your resume and application materials to match up your use of those words with what they are seeking.  These can either filter you out or pull you in to the next round of reviews.

Similarly, on LinkedIn people are searching for talent by keyword.  In fact, there were over 5.7 billion searches conducted on LinkedIn last year alone.  If your profile has keywords that match your industry and desired positions, you’re much more likely to show up in search results, which can lead to connections and opportunities.

LinkedIn Profiles and Resumes: The Differences

1.) The length.  In many cases, one-page resumes are all you need and all that recruiters have time for.  You need to be mindful about what takes up resume “real estate” on the page.  This focus serves you well in the application process.

With LinkedIn profiles, you have room to elaborate.  This Mashable article recommends that you consider your profile as your “master resume” and bring in almost all of your experience.  Of course, you’ll still want to keep focused on those right keywords and phrases to get you found in search results while doing so.  Just remember that you are writing for the web when you write in your LinkedIn profile.  People still prefer short chunks of text, lists and an organized flow to how you write about yourself. You can be thorough while also being concise.

2.) The level of specificity.  As this US News & World Report post explains, resumes are sent in with applications to one job at one organization.  They have one purpose: to get the organization to understand you are the best fit for that specific opportunity.  As such, resumes should be customized for that specific position.  On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile is not an application material for one job.  It encompasses who you are as a professional in total and can be a tool that helps bring opportunities to you.

For those with dual career goals, LinkedIn profiles can be tricky.  Each case is unique, but there are great points on this HR Bartender blog post from HR professionals that will help you get started.

3.) Third party contributions.  On resumes, it’s not customary to provide recommendations from others about your work.  The resume is all about you, written by you.  On LinkedIn profiles, recommendations and endorsements of your “Skills & Expertise” speak volumes, and it’s a great idea to have your network contribute.  Ask your supervisor for a recommendation.  Give authentic endorsements to others, and it’s likely they will return the favor to you.  When recruiters land on your profile, they’ll note your commendations favorably.

4.) One of these is a social network.  With your LinkedIn Profile, you have the opportunity to engage with other people.  Your profile is your platform to get started with that communication, and it could happen with anyone at any time across the world. Think of the various elements of your profile as “touchpoints” someone can use as a reason to reach out to you.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn profiles and best practices for profile writing, I welcome you to join me on my next LinkedIn Job Seeker webinar – a free resource to help you get going on the network.

Image: iStockphoto

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8 Comments

    Comment: Posted by Ambrose on August 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I can understand Recommendations, but why would Skills & Expertise “speak volumes”? Anyone with a LinkedIn profile can attest that endorsements for skills and expertise cannot generally be substantiated. This is not even just my personal opinion; I’ve seen this issue brought up not once but in multiple mailing lists and forums.

    I’ve had an unexpected opportunity of seeing how my resume ended up after going through one of those applicant tracking systems. The inaccuracy so shocked me (despite my familiarity with the inaccuracies of OCR) I think anyone trusting those systems are irresponsible. And I’m feeling recruiters will just blindly trust LinkedIn just as they have blindly trusted those applicant tracking systems. These are sad times.

    Comment: Posted by Caitlin T. on July 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Great post, Lindsey! It’s great when people spend time on their profile and give me some insight into who they are. So many times I’ve used LinkedIn to research a potential client, found something about their history and then have been able to use that information to break the ice.

    Comment: Posted by Lindsey Pollak on July 31, 2013 at 9:42 am

    @Joseph – Actually, LinkedIn allows a lot of space – much more than a resume. But conciseness is always good, too. People don’t like to read a lot of text on a computer screen.

    Comment: Posted by Lindsey Pollak on July 31, 2013 at 9:41 am

    @John G – Thanks for the great insight!

    Comment: Posted by Gina on July 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I love this article. I think that in today’s day and age it’s sometimes hard to unplug, especially when it comes to the job search. There are distinct differences between resumes and LinkedIn profiles and while each can stand on it’s own, the complement each other well, if done correctly.

    Comment: Posted by John G on July 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    My background is in the management consulting industry and I can say with confidence that as a job seeker if you are looking to get noticed by recruiters then perfect your LinkedIn profile. I know many recruiters who only use LinkedIn as their sole source of leads for their placements. A resume is important but if had to only have one a LinkedIn profile is the choice and here is why… a LinkedIn profile will get you in the door and once you’re in front of the interviewer its YOU that wins an interview not a resume.

    Comment: Posted by Joseph Connolly on July 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Thanks to this very informative and well written article with a wealth of information, I will be updating my resume to current standards. The only drawback is the amount of ‘space’ allowed by Linked-In, which means I’ll have many re-writes and to ultimately be concise. Challenge.

    Comment: Posted by Objectify on July 25, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I went on LinkedIn for abut a year. It would have been far less if I had gone through the various posts; What I found (out of the people I actually knew) was a rogues gallery; many people had had the cheek to entirely appropriate years of work from other people (not just myself), telling outright lies about their qualifications, let alone experience, and presenting themselves in a way that was so distant from their actual character and aptitudes, it was incredible.

    I got out – and I am extremely glad that I did.

    I have no difficulty whatsoever in finding work; and I won’t touch LinkedIn with a barge pole.

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