Why Your LinkedIn Profile Is Not Your Resume

Your Resume Will be Your LinkedIn, if LinkedIn Has Anything to Say About It

There has been significant buzz in the last few weeks about what LinkedIn’s plans are for being the forum of choice the job application process. We already know that recruiters are using LinkedIn to source candidates. What about having job seekers turn that around and use LinkedIn as the application “app” of choice?

I recently spoke with Mary Cosgrove, of What’s Working Well? about how LinkedIn can enter this market so easily. She commented, “I think we are on a continuum to figuring this out. Current on-line applications processes are barriers to finding good hires. It’s like, ‘let me waste your time and energy to see how bad you really want to work here.’ We all know it’s broken – Linked in could be a strategy to helping.”

So if we start with the assumption that the online job search system is inefficient and frustrating, then we can be confident that there are lots of openings to make the system better, easier, and more efficient for both sides of the hiring process.

LinkedIn Has Stepped in to Fix This Problem

LinkedIn is promoting an app that dumps your profile into a pretty resume template, which users can save for downloading. At the same time, employers can now use an “apply with LinkedIn” button on their web sites. Both of these ease the burden on the part of the applicant and the employer to get applications in quickly.

Donna Svei, The Avid Careerist, recently weighed in on this issue in a recent blog post: “[S]avvy job seekers, who always begin with the end in mind, will write and format their profiles to please recruiters rather than themselves.” Regardless of whether candidates plan to use their profiles as their resumes, her thought–and LinkedIn’s, clearly–is that the LinkedIn profile will equal the resume. However, the profile remains static, unless job seekers are tweaking their public presence every time they apply for a new position.

Mary Cosgrove echoed this, saying, “If you are applying using the ‘button,’ I would recommend changing the profile to match the job. If you apply for more than one, that can prove problematic.” So, I don’t believe that LinkedIn has solved the critical requirement of resume customization per job target—yet.

LinkedIn Is NOT Your Resume

It can’t be. Not yet. LinkedIn is so flexible that it can’t serve as a resume that a job candidate can use to apply for every position worth applying for. The following criticisms of the process have been raised:

  • The templates that LinkedIn offers for resumes are pretty, but candidates need to use LinkedIn’s “Markdown” language to customize and lay out the resume text to bring the resume up to standard. The effort to do this for every new position would be significant on the part of the user.
  • Even though users can create multiple versions of their resume, and export them to PDF or save them in the system, each new resume targeted to a new position requires a live tweak of the profile. We all know that once a user hits “save” on a profile, the profile is live—there is no “holding space” for multiple profile versions. Job seekers would have to save their multiple profile versions on their desktops in Word or Notepad.
  • Resumes—and cover letters—are meant to be customized for each job search target. If a job seeker were to tweak his or her profile for every position, the world would be seeing new versions of that person’s candidacy every time he or she applied for a new position. To me, that’s just confusing.
  • There is no cover letter option in LinkedIn. LinkedIn does not provide an option for a cover letter. Because some hiring managers like them and some hate them, smart job seekers should include them. Enough said.
  • If this process moved forward, HR departments will be flooded with untargeted applications. Probably, with the ease of applying in place, candidates would apply everywhere, regardless of their actual qualifications, endlessly flooding human resources departments with resumes, which would place significant burden on HR to identify the truly viable applicants? There would have to be additional gatekeeper questions on the part of companies to eliminate the needless flood.
  • Hiring managers need to know MORE about candidates, not the SAME things about candidates. Last, and most significantly relative to managing your online presence, when people seek candidates out online, I would think they would want MORE about them, not the same stuff that exists on the resume. The profile is a candidate’s prime opportunity to demonstrate why he or she is unique, capable, and a good fit, using more than simple accomplishment statements. The rules are looser compared to those governing the stringent requirements of the resume, and candidates should take advantage of these open opportunities to enhance their online images.

Is LinkedIn the Promise for the Future of Online Job Applications

I think we all rather hope so. If there was a one-touch option for applying for multiple jobs, the process would be spectacularly easier for job applicants. We all have to work to figure out how best to customize the process so that it is more efficient for applicants and effective for the companies seeking them.

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