At the core of your LinkedIn experience is your profile. As you complete it, you are prompted to include information for all of your educational background as well as companies and positions that you've held over the course of your career. Sounds pretty much like a résumé, right? Not so much.
LinkedIn is evolving and if you are a savvy job hunter, you will seize the opportunity to utilize its new features to your advantage.
When looking for a new job, you might be tempted to choose the "easy" way of simply cutting one section of a résumé after another and pasting them in turn into the corresponding spot on your profile. However, doing this demonstrates a failure to understand what social media is all about, and limits the information about yourself that you can convey. Both your résumé and LinkedIn profile speak about you, but they do so in at least seven different ways:
1. Résumés are limited in length to a page or two. Meanwhile, on LinkedIn you can use a personal branding statement that’s up to 2000 characters in your profile summary. Plus there is no overall constraint for the total length of your profile.
2. The etiquette of how you present yourself in these two media sharply differs. Résumés are formal documents – for instance, you would never see the pronoun "I" in a well-written résumé. While you should view LinkedIn as a business site, it is social. Rather than you conveying information to your reader, social media is about two-way communication. It is beneficial to be personable, if not personal, and that includes commonly speaking about yourself in the first person.
3. A well-crafted résumé will be tightly worded, conveying a story in just a very few lines. STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) bulleted points, or something close to them, is the expected norm. Although you might include a link to something online, your résumé remains simply a text document.
On LinkedIn, your language should be much less formal, and you can ditch the STAR format. Demonstrate your accomplishments by including multiple forms of media both in your profile summary and tied to any relevant position you list. Depending on your profession, you might include a PowerPoint financial presentation, a portfolio of your art, pictures of your work product, a PDF eBook, videos or links with an explanation to whatever you wish.
4. Typically you send your résumé out on a targeted basis to recruiters or companies at which you want to be considered. On LinkedIn, your profile is searchable and thereby becomes bait, making you "findable" by anyone seeking to develop a targeted candidate pool of people like you. Positions which you had no idea existed can thereby be brought to your attention. Rather than trying to create a document appropriate for a job, online you can provide a more rounded view of your interests, knowledge and activities.
5. Once you complete your résumé, you will continue to tailor it to mirror the priorities of any particular position. Still, it is a completely finished document for whomever you submit it to whenever you hit "send."
By comparison, your LinkedIn profile grows organically each time you include a new skill, accomplishment, share information or engage in various other types of LinkedIn activities. When someone comes back to your profile time after time, what he or she sees will be somewhat different if you take care to keep it up to date.
6. Generally, you shouldn't include a picture on a résumé. But a close in headshot is now expected for an optimized LinkedIn profile. Again, LinkedIn is about building relationships with real people with real faces.
7. Your résumé is about the past. Your profile, while also conveying your prior professional history and accomplishments, is ultimately about the present and future.
The status updates that you post become a part of your profile. They need not be limited to accomplishments, but can include articles you find of interest, references to events you plan to attend, and more. Also, LinkedIn now allows hashtags, which makes your updates easier for others to find. You can also include rich media such as pictures, e-Books, links to other articles or sites, etc.
When you send a résumé into an employer, it might just sit there until someone happens on it. But each time you post an update on LinkedIn, it is shared with all your first-degree connections, plus you can also opt to have them appear on your Twitter feed and more. You can thereby put yourself in front of your audience repeatedly.
Often, even if a recruiter or human resources professional has your résumé in hand, they will still check out your profile to learn more about you to determine if they would like to initiate a conversation with you. LinkedIn's new features enable your profile to shine in ways far beyond a résumé's capabilities. When you take advantage of them, you'll be able to demonstrate very clearly the value you bring to any employer lucky enough to find and woo you.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.