You worked hard perfecting your resume—and you’re feeling really good about it. So naturally, the next step would be to hop online, copy-paste all that excellent content into your LinkedIn profile, call it your “LinkedIn resume,” and share it with the world?
Nope. Not even a little bit.
Your page may offer the same categories as a resume; but if your profile reads the exact same, consider this an intervention for how to use the platform to your benefit. Fun fact: The site is a full-bodied personal branding vehicle with its own set of rules.
This is your chance to tell your career story in an interesting way, and I don’t want you missing out on it. So, here are four key differences that you should understand before you even think about touching copy-paste.
1. It Should Tell a Bigger Story
Details. Context. Vivid pictures.
Your LinkedIn profile is a place for all that additional color you cut your from your resume to make it one page. But I’m not just talking about including portfolio items, projects, more skills, and so on (although those are great things to incorporate).
Let’s take your professional experiences section, for example. You have the opportunity to give the backstory on interesting twists and turns that can’t be explained on your resume. So, instead of sticking with bullets, share a bit about your work: Here’s a side-by-side snapshot:
“Grew sales by 25% by implementing referral program and expanding customer base…”
“I accepted a Sales role with Dropbox after meeting the company’s CEO at the 2015 SaaS Convention. My previous SaaS selling experience allowed me to usher immediate results, such as growing our customer base by…”
The second option is much more captivating, and while there’s no place for it on a resume, it’s totally appropriate for LinkedIn. Remember, the one caveat to this approach is that you should always think twice about the details you’re sharing. Sensitive or internal company information, as well as overly personal details, should never make the cut. (Here’s a trick: If you’d share something to flesh out an interview answer, go for it. If you’d hold off, leave it out.)
2. It Shouldn’t Be Tailored
It’s time consuming, but you’ve accepted that every time you apply to a role you’ll need to tailor your resume with a particular company, position, or person in mind. So, you have several that are tightly honed. And while that’s invaluable when you’re sending in applications, it’s a time and a place kind of thing, and being too finely-tuned on LinkedIn means you’ll actually miss out on opportunities.
Should you consider the general make-up of your network when using your profile?
Is it important to brand yourself as a thought leader in a select area?
Shouldn’t an active job hunter craft his profile with a different audience in mind than someone not looking, or searching incognito?
But leveraging your profile with only those people or topics in mind will limit you.
Your network will stagnate. By beating on the same old “I-work-in-management” drum 24/7, you run the risk of not even being seen for anything else.
Your profile should include a few crowd-pleaser items that will appeal to a wider audience. These can be as simple as regularly posting updates sharing favorite TED talks and articles, or as involved as authoring a Pulse article about your favorite Google Chrome hacks.
By balancing messages about your subject matter expertise with these more general items, you allow outsiders to relate to you as a person (and see how diverse your skill set is).
3. It Should Include Back-up
On your resume, information is more or less taken at face value until it’s time for your interview. But when you’re making statements about your talents or work style on LinkedIn, you have the advantage of backing your claims up.
You can say, “I always go the extra mile” in your summary, but a dazzling recommendation from a former boss proves it. Or, instead of just including that you love to write, keep your profile’s publications section up to date with new articles. Are you an expert with Salesforce? Get the skill endorsements to reflect it.
This is a classic show-don’t-tell situation. Use all the available bells and whistles to back up whatever you claim you can do.
4. It Shouldn’t Be Too Formal
Robotic third-person resume language is not going to cut it here. A summary that reads like a bio on the back of a book is one that no one reads. Instead, draft it by writing the way you speak.
Use a conversational tone and pepper in details about your work that humanize you. Don’t just talk about what you do; talk about why you love doing it. Instead of focusing on the number of years of experience you have in XYZ industry, explain how you got your start there. Weave in bits about the types of teams you’ve enjoyed working on, your personal philosophy, or what kinds of projects inspire you the most. Here’s what it might look like:
“As an entrepreneur, sizing up situations and pulling together the best people, resources, and solutions to address business challenges isn’t just a skill—it’s my second nature. My 10-year background of success in home healthcare started with a genuine passion for addressing changes to this industry by…”
When you think it’s ready to go, send it to a friend and ask if it sounds like you and if it does a good job expressing your passion for your work.
It’s understandable that people would confuse LinkedIn and their resume. After all, they’re both places to discuss your professional achievements. But by understanding the differences and taking the time to flesh your profile out, you’ll have a helpful, complementary page where you can direct contacts to learn more about you.