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LinkedIn profiles and resumes: What’s the same, what's different?

Building your LinkedIn profile is as easy as uploading your resume, right? Not if you want to attract hiring managers or customers.
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LinkedIn has recently come up with a great tool that will let you use your profile to create a resume. They also will let you upload your resume and auto-fill your profile. But should your profile and your resume be the same?

To answer that question, let’s start with the purpose of each. Your resume is a professional document which demonstrates your qualifications and value to a position or company, hopefully leading to an interview. Your LinkedIn profile is meant to attract people, create interest, and be an introduction to who you are in a social/professional context.

With slightly different audiences, you probably want slightly different content. This can be a tricky line to walk, so here are a few tips on how to make your LinkedIn profile work for you while maximizing content from your resume.

Style. Most professional resumes are in first person without using pronouns (I, me, my, etc.) and use a telegraphic style which eliminates unnecessary words. Conversely, research has proven that conversational social media profiles using limited pronouns are most likely to draw in a reader. And, like a resume, the profile needs to consider the desired audience. A conversational tone will be best for most professionals and is recommended for business owners and sales people who focus on business-to-consumer sales. A more conventional 3rd-person approach (referring to yourself using your first name) can be appropriate for executives, public figures, and those who focus on higher-level business-to-business sales.

Scan-ability. The LinkedIn profile, like any good web writing, should use short statements in an organized outline that allows a reader to easily skim and get the main ideas. The challenge online is that your profile still needs to tell the story of your accomplishments – briefly! You can use up to 2000 characters in the summary section and experience descriptions. Using a majority of these 2000 characters can boost your profile SEO (search engine optimization). To increase readability, use skill headings, bullets (some symbols work in LinkedIn), and dividing lines to help guide your reader.

Keyword rich. If the purpose of the LinkedIn profile is to attract employers, customers, or recruiters, then it has to be optimized for the words they would be using in a search to find someone like you. Unlike the resume where all areas of the document are equal to the scanning systems, the headline, summary, and job titles are the highest ranked in LinkedIn search. Pack these areas with words and phrases for which you want to be at the top of a search. Avoid long, meandering descriptions in the headline – stick to the keywords (you have 120 characters here) and strong phrases that catch the right kind of attention.

Expandable. The best facet of your LinkedIn profile is that you can make it interactive and you can share more of your experience and qualifications through the additional categories. Using links in the profile, you can draw people to a website, video, or document. You can embed videos and list projects, presentations, publications, certifications, and more. The trick here is to balance interactivity with not overwhelming people. If you create a video, make it short – less than 2 minutes! Items that don’t require a click will be much more effective.

Fresh. While you might get away with not updating your resume for a few years if you’re not actively looking for work, your LinkedIn profile needs to stay fresh. LinkedIn used to serve mainly active job seekers, but now it is a place for professional networking and maintaining your professional brand. Keep a fresh photo of yourself, keep your experience up to date, and check frequently to accept requests. Use your updates to add value for your network and stay visible.

Adds value. If you are using LinkedIn for an active job search, prospecting, or active networking, your profile should add value for those you want to attract. Share articles or news that may be of interest. Answer questions. Ask good questions. Interact in professional or regional groups. While your resume is just a piece of paper, your profile is a springboard for conversation. Use it to engage others and build relationships. Just like any other networking, these relationships are your goal and if you don't take the time to build them you won't see any results from your LinkedIn efforts.

While a few companies will hire from a LinkedIn profile, in most cases your LinkedIn profile will be the lure on the fishing line and your resume is the net that drags the fish into the boat – the HR person or hiring manager will still require a professional resume during the hiring process to validate your qualification.

Happy fishing and watch for more tips on improving your resume, LinkedIn profile, and social media strategy.


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