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Write your resume like a pro.

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Resume and LinkedIn Profile Writing: How Different Should They Be?

Did LinkedIn kill the traditional resume?

Why should you bother with a formal resume if you already have a LinkedIn profile? Is a LinkedIn resume all you need? 

The reality is that the two are not created for the same purposes, although there can be some purpose overlap. Your resume is usually updated and shared when you are in active job search mode. The primary function of LinkedIn is to create a professional network (a new job may be an outcome, but it is usually not the only goal).

Have you ever second-guessed whether to include something from your resume on your LinkedIn profile? Confused as to how the two should be different? Read on for some tips and best practices on resume and LinkedIn profile writing.

Let’s get similarities out of the way first.

Factual flow of positions and projects.

Because a resume and a LinkedIn profile are showcasing the same person, it makes sense that the facts of your past jobs and projects will be consistent. You may choose to present a traditional resume and LinkedIn resume differently, but the core chronology and facts will be very similar.

Quick summary to capture you as a professional.

In a resume format, the “purpose” section has been replaced by the “professional summary” section. The idea is to use three to four short sentences or phrases to present a compelling snapshot of your professional expertise and personal brand.

LinkedIn allows you to do the same in the “Summary” section of your profile. However, the online platform gives you the luxury of more space (up to 2,000 characters).

Focus on value delivered.

A good resume and an impactful LinkedIn profile share the same focus on value delivered. Whether you have successfully increased sales by 10 percent, or shortened the month-end close timeline by three days, strategically addressing what’s in it for the reader is appropriate (and effective) on both platforms.

Keyword usage.

Your primary goal when resume and LinkedIn profile writing is to connect with the reader.

However, ignoring the technology that stands between you and the reader can put you at a disadvantage. Your potential employer may be using scanning software to filter applications, and the algorithm behind LinkedIn looks at keyword density to rank your profile in a search. Be strategic about describing your qualifications and skills to maximize the usefulness of both tools.

Now, on to the differences.

Multiple resumes. One LinkedIn profile.

It is a standard practice with resume and LinkedIn profile writing to create different resumes for different professional opportunities. However, you should only have one LinkedIn profile.

Having multiple profiles leads to confusion when people search for you, and dilutes your connections by splitting them. It can also turn into an account administration nightmare. How do you keep track of invitations? Which account to do you search when looking for a particular connection? If you find yourself with two or more LinkedIn profiles, your next steps are detailed here.

It is important to mention that your one and only LinkedIn profile has the potential to reach a broader audience than your resume. Balance the opportunity for making more connections with tailoring the profile for your ideal job or client base. Otherwise, you may raise some eyebrows due to a significant mismatch between how you present yourself on LinkedIn and in your resume (or in your current position).

Formal tone on your resume. Social tone on LinkedIn.

Your resume is perhaps one of the most formal documents you will ever write. The strength of the resume is in the structure and word choices. Every word is carefully selected for impact and relevance, because the real estate on the page is limited and valuable.

LinkedIn is, by design, a social network first. Because the strength of LinkedIn is in the connections you make, your tone can be more relaxed. Professionals often refer to themselves in the first person (“I have founded this company…”) which is not something you would consider for a resume.

Another important distinction is that people read differently when they look at a hard copy document versus a computer screen. With an online profile, your reader is likely scanning for headlines and bullet points. Craft the presentation for the reader’s convenience.

Brief resume. Longer LinkedIn profile.

Your resume is, by design, a highly condensed professional history. LinkedIn gives you more space – think of it as a longer-form resume with room for examples and even stories.

Keep in mind that it is possible to get carried away and make your LinkedIn resume too long to be effective.

Your resume is “final” and static. Your LinkedIn profile is ever-evolving and dynamic.  

You can tweak and edit your resume, changing the headline here or the wording there. However, every time you hit “save” and email the document to a recruiter, your resume is “final” for the purposes of that interaction.

In contrast, your LinkedIn profile is a living, breathing, ever-evolving creation. Keeping it current and updated is critical for your success with online networking. Take advantage of your ability to include links to projects and portfolios, and publish blog posts to create a reputation and position yourself as a knowledgeable professional.

Photo not needed for your resume, expected for an optimized LinkedIn profile.

The current US professional standards do not require you to include a photo on your resume. In fact, it is discouraged.

In contrast, a photo is required for an optimized LinkedIn resume. If you can, have a photo taken by a professional photographer. Local studios are great places to start. Students (or beginning photographers building a portfolio) are two of your budget options. Your goal is to come across as likeable, professional, influential, and competent.

Here are some best practices for choosing a perfect LinkedIn profile picture:

  • Wear professional attire (something you would wear for an important meeting at work).

  • There is no one background that works best – just be sure it does not distract from your face, and is professional (a bar is not an appropriate background, unless you are a bartender).

  • Face the camera, and smile with your eyes.

If you have ever wondered whether your profile picture is presenting you in the best light, try this online tool for a quick assessment.

Is the traditional resume dead?

Recruiters and professionals alike say not so fast. Because of the vast difference between the two tools, they continue to be useful in different way.

My advice? Understand the differences when it comes to resume and LinkedIn profile writing, and maximize the effectiveness of both.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!