It can be tempting to copy and paste the details of your resume right into your LinkedIn profile. Creating identical work histories and background is a logical shortcut, but a common mistake. The truth is, if your LinkedIn profile looks like your resume—or vice versa—you're doing something wrong.
Your resume and LinkedIn profile are two of the most influential tools you can use to promote yourself to your professional network and potential employers. Recognizing the nuances that set them apart helps you harness the full power of each tool. Here are five tips to differentiate your resume from your LinkedIn profile.
1. Be concise with your resume and use LinkedIn to elaborate
Your resume should be an easy-to-scan document that summarizes your professional experiences as succinctly as possible. For most job seekers, try to keep your resume under two pages.
Pack your resume with descriptive details and relevant work history examples. Be sure to include industry-specific quantifiable achievements to highlight your accomplishments.
Remember, a resume is just a preview of what you have to offer. Recruiters should still be hungry for more. That's where your LinkedIn profile comes in. Consider LinkedIn an invitation to elaborate on your experiences. Start with your resume, but seize the opportunity to add in details and examples, such as:
- Specific duties required in positions you've held
- Projects you're proud of, including details to show how your work benefitted your employer
- Links to relevant works
Share openly on LinkedIn, but just as with your resume, don't overwhelm the reader. Focus on quality of information rather than quantity. Be detailed, but make sure someone can still easily scan your LinkedIn profile in a few minutes.
2. Keep your tone formal on your resume — loosen up on LinkedIn
With a few rare exceptions (for instance, if you're in a really creative field), your resume isn't the place to show off your personality. The language you use should be direct and professional. Make sure all formatting and style adhere to industry standards. (Consider using a resume template to make sure you're on the right track with your format.)
LinkedIn is a different story. While you still need to maintain a professional appearance on the site, your LinkedIn profile should give additional insight into your personality. Remember, this is a social networking site, so it's perfectly acceptable to have a more conversational tone throughout your profile and posts. Show that you are an approachable and friendly person to be around. Recruiters and hiring managers care about these factors.
3. Stick with text on your resume — use visuals to your advantage on LinkedIn
Your resume typically shouldn't include images, charts, or other visual information. In most industries, recruiters and hiring managers prefer a cleanly formatted document they can scan quickly to ascertain your qualifications. Be sure your format scans easily in applicant tracking system (ATS) software. Employers use these systems to scan resumes for keywords that are essential to the position. The ATS may reject any applications that don't include keywords and proper formatting, which means a hiring manager won't even read it.
Recruiters and hiring managers will view your LinkedIn profile differently. Your profile picture is an important detail. Avoid selfies, blurry bar photos, and poorly cropped group shots. Opt for professional headshots, or at least a clear photo of you, head-on. And don't underestimate the power of a smile to make you seem approachable and engaging.
You can also customize the banner photo on your profile and add links to projects you've worked on, preferably with visuals attached. Building a complete profile will add personality to your page while making it more enjoyable to browse.
4. Tailor your resume to each application — give your LinkedIn more general appeal
One of the cardinal rules of resume-writing is to tailor your resume for each job you're applying for. Edit and tweak your resume carefully before you submit it each time. Make sure you're showing off your best side, with that specific position in mind.
Your LinkedIn profile should be more of a general audience-pleaser, because you can't (or shouldn't) revise it every time you apply for a new gig. This is where being thorough really comes in handy. If you're showing off your very best experiences on LinkedIn, you'll impress a range of viewers. You can also use your LinkedIn as a reference while editing your resume.
5. Your resume is rooted in the past — LinkedIn is a living beast
That's not to say you shouldn't update your resume regularly (see above), and make sure your current position and role are always up to date. But ultimately, your resume should focus mostly on your background, while your LinkedIn profile can give a glimpse into where you are today.
Of course, this won't be the case if you aren't active on LinkedIn. If you simply set up your profile and forget about it, it doesn't say much about your daily professional life. But if you're participating in conversations on the platform, sharing relevant content, and even creating posts of your own, you're making a clear statement that you're passionate about engagement, growth, and your career.
Use this chart as a reference as you build both your resume and LinkedIn page.
Your resume and LinkedIn profile are both powerful tools that can help you take the next step in your career—but only if you take the time to maintain them properly. Kept fresh and carefully groomed, both of these resources can paint a clear picture of everything you have to offer potential employers, putting you a step above your competition.