Writing: LinkedIn Profile vs. Resume

Recently someone emailed me asking for my opinion about their LinkedIn Profile. This person had just paid for resume and LinkedIn work, and wasn’t quite happy with the LinkedIn work. It looked like a copy/paste of the resume.

I think it’s important to differentiate the purpose and the opportunity of the resume from the LinkedIn Profile. The resume has limitations (number of pages, language you should use, what you can put on it, etc.) that generally should not be on the LinkedIn Profile.

One of the most important things to think about who is reading either of these marketing documents, and why.

If you have a resume that is too funky (let’s say, comic font with pink paper, and narrative stories), people will think you are a nut and discard it.  You have to play within the rules, and those are way outside the rules.  You have to start each sentence (bullet point) with a strong action word (increased sales, reduced bad guys, etc.). You should provide solid quantifications of your achievements. Your audience is generally a recruiter, or hiring manager, or HR person.  They want to compare your resume (which is a marketing document…. have I mentioned that yet?) with five or ten other resumes… if your formatting or messaging is apples to orange s, you will either really stand out or you will be incomprehensible or distracting to the point where it’s hard to compare.  It’s like they ask you a question and you don’t give them the answer to the question they asked.

There is really little creative freedom, in style and content, that you can put into your resume.  I think this is why some people have cried over the last ten years that the resume is dying.  Until the massively slow moving beast we call HR declares resumes dead, rest assured that resumes will be around, and used, for many years to come.

The LinkedIn Profile is a marketing document that gives you much more freedom. I don’t like to see “resume-speak” on a LinkedIn Profile. In addition to recruiters, hiring managers and HR, you’ll have others who read it (that is, you have an expanded audience). Their purpose is different, and so their presentation and content should be different.

Because the purpose is different, the “rules” are different, and the expectations of the reader is (or should be) different, I suggest a different style, and kind of a different message (kind of because it should be consistent, but it doesn’t have to be 100% the same).

I like a more narrative, more personal, more personable approach on a LinkedIn Profile. I talk about “mini stories.” I talk about your primary and secondary value propositions, and then supporting those value props in the rest of the Profile.

How do you do that?  NOT the same way you do it on a resume.

Want more? You can see my LinkedIn courses on Pluralsight (at no cost – I can hook you up with a 30 day pass), or I do LinkedIn Profile critiques/reviews – email me if you want details (Jason@JibberJobber.com).