woman working on computer courtesy Marcy Milks

Dear Recruiter,

Do you believe that sometime in the (near) future, resumes will go away and all resume-related information will be housed in sites like LinkedIn? If so, do you believe that your LinkedIn profile should be as complete as possible with key words so that recruiters (using ATS software) can more easily find potential candidates?

I’ve run into some people who think LinkedIn profiles should only have the last five to 10 years of experience, and should include company and title only (no job responsibilities or accomplishments).

Thank you!

Futuristic Job Seeker

Hi Futuristic Job Seeker,

I, too, long for the day the traditional resume is retired to wherever rotary phones and fax machines were sent to live out their days. But do I think LinkedIn is the answer? Sadly, no.

Relying on the site as a universal job application is misguided. I understand the appeal: Using LinkedIn exclusively means only ever having to write one resume, but it’s not a simple copy-and-paste situation. While your profile tells your general career story, it can’t paint the specific picture of why you’re the right candidate for this job.

In my experience, the candidates who stood out were those who made that narrative crystal clear. A former marketing director I helped hire, for example, applied with a streamlined six page PowerPoint, drawing out the company needs our job post conveyed and highlighting the specific experience that showed she could tackle them.

Relying on a general resume for a specific opportunity means you’re letting someone else, in this case a recruiter, figure out and attempt to tell your career story for you.

Who better to convey your story? You, or someone who has spent 30 seconds reading your profile?

Rather than a job application, I encourage professionals to view the networking platform as a professional development tool.

1. Research the Background of Your Dream Job

Find professionals with the job you dream of. What were their career paths and how can you emulate them? When I was deciding between attending graduate school and staying in the workforce, I looked at the profiles of individuals with the job title Head of People Operations to see how many of them went to graduate school, and what they studied so I could make an informed decision.

2. Seek Informational Interviewing Opportunities

Muse writer Elliott Bell writes, “The informational interview is the secret tool everyone should have in their back pocket.” It’s a fantastic tool to find and connect with individuals whose backgrounds you want to learn from. (Here’s how to actually set one up.)

3. Encourage Someone to Find You

The platform has changed the recruiting game, giving hiring managers a large and varied pool of applicants. Basically, all you need is a complete and active profile, and you never know who might reach out to you.

And if you're not sure if your profile's complete, this checklist will tell you.

To sum it up, I can’t predict the future, but I don’t anticipate LinkedIn replacing the good ol’ resume anytime soon. Utilize it for its worthwhile benefits and it could help you in your job search, but don’t rely on it for being the sole factor in securing your next awesome opportunity.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.

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