In 2011, Forbes published the article “5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 Years.” The writer argued that, since more and more recruiters are starting to use the Internet to find new talent or learn more about candidates, it is only a matter of time before employers ask for just LinkedIn profile links rather than traditional printed resumes.
This Forbes prophecy may be fully realized within the next few years. Until resumes are fully digital, job seekers are caught in limbo: both printed resumes and online profiles remain important for job applications. Without a well-written and up-to-date traditional resume, you can’t apply for jobs. Without a LinkedIn profile or an online resume, it’s more difficult for recruiters and employers to find you online. You need both to plot a successful job search and grow your personal brand.
The Importance of Consistency
Many job searchers view LinkedIn as an online resume. You can use your LinkedIn profile to highlight your job experience and show off endorsements and recommendations you’ve received from colleagues or managers. While we recommend maintaining a separate site as your official online resume, there is no doubt that social media can be helpful in landing a job. Recruiters use social media's search functions frequently to find potential candidates for positions they need to fill. Employers will sometimes browse LinkedIn for prospects as well. Having a detailed and search engine optimized LinkedIn page can do a lot to make you visible and marketable to these decision makers.
In many cases, your social media profile and your traditional print resume are resources meant for different audiences. Online profiles are for recruiters and employers who are searching for candidates online. The networks also serve to keep you connected to the people in your professional network, connections that you might be able to harness to help you land a job. Your traditional resume is meant for the hiring managers at companies where you apply for jobs.
Here’s an example of why you need both a traditional and a digital-only resume. Say you apply for a job and have a good interview with the hiring manager. That hiring manager then looks you up online to learn more about you and finds your LinkedIn page. At the same time, a recruiter finds you on LinkedIn and approaches you about applying for a position she is trying to fill. That recruiter asks you to send along a resume that she can submit to the hiring manager for the job in question.
In these situations, consistency between your printed resume and your online profile is vital. A hiring manager who is impressed by your resume and interview will be nonplussed if he looks at your LinkedIn page and sees that you haven’t updated it in years. A headhunter will rightfully assume that something is amiss if you give her a resume that has different job titles and employment dates than what you list on LinkedIn.
Discrepancies between your printed resume and your online profile will always raise questions about the veracity of the information on your resume, and about your overall professionalism and work ethic. Make sure that your online profile and your resume complement one another to avoid these issues and improve your chances of getting hired. To find out whether your profile and resume are complementary, use the “Printed Resume vs. Online Profile” test.
The Printed Resume vs. Online Profile Test
This test aims to create a side-by-side comparison between your printed resume and your online profile. These two resources do not have to be identical. On the contrary, since you do not have space limitations with LinkedIn, it’s usually a good idea to use your online profile to go a bit deeper into your professional history than you do on your traditional resume. You can use a few extra bullet points to explain your accomplishments at each job or add extra sections to your profile to highlight things like volunteer experience and certifications. You want employers to be able to get to know you better by browsing your LinkedIn profile.
You want to offer a complete view of your professional history, but make sure that in the process, you don’t show visitors an entirely different view. Taking this test will ensure that your resume and online profile don’t contradict or invalidate one another. To complete the test, pull up your LinkedIn profile, print out a copy of your most recent resume draft, and walk through each resource from top to bottom.
The Header: Let’s start the test at the very top of your online profile. Your header includes key information such as your name, email address, phone number, location, and current job. Compare this information to your resume header. If you’ve recently gotten married and changed your name, make sure the alterations are reflected on both headers. If your contact information or location are different, make changes on both documents. If the “current” employment section in your LinkedIn header doesn’t match the job listed at the top of your resume, update it.
The header is the first thing anyone will see when looking at your resume or visiting your online profile. This information must be accurate and consistent or it will arouse suspicion right away.
Experience: Compare the “Experience” section on your online profile to the “Experience” section on your resume. Look for discrepancies in the following items:
- Employer name
- Job title
- Employment dates
- Listed responsibilities and accomplishments
If you don’t update your LinkedIn very often, then there may be jobs where the employment dates are still marked “to Present” even though you no longer work there. LinkedIn will assume you are still working a job unless you tell it otherwise, so pay special attention to that part of your profile. As mentioned previously, it’s fine if your online profile has some extra bullet points for each job as long as you are being truthful and making sure that the most important points are featured on your traditional resume as well.
Watch your grammar in these sections. The Experience sections are the meat of both your online profile and your resume. It’s important that they are written with clarity and strong, grammatically accurate language.
Education: On some resumes, the “Education” section will be at the very top. In your LinkedIn profile, it’s closer to the bottom. This section will probably differ from resume to LinkedIn. With your resume, you are working with limited space, which means that you are likely focusing on the most important details of your educational background. These details include the name of your college or university, your dates of enrollment, the degree or degrees you received, and your cumulative GPA.
Include all these elements in your online profile and make sure that all facts are consistent between the two resources. Social Media gives you space to add a description of your college pursuits and to list any activities or societies you were involved with while you were in school. Feel free to flesh out this section, especially if your college education is your biggest marketing point so far as an applicant. Just make sure that the information you are providing in your online profile isn’t vastly different from your traditional resume.
Depending on your chosen field and what you are most proud of in your past, you may choose to include other sections on your resume or online profile or both. For instance, if you were the recipient of high-profile awards or prizes, you might maintain sections to list those honors. If you have been a devoted volunteer, you might include some of your notable pro-bono efforts. If you’ve had works published in a peer-reviewed journal, you might include those sections.
You have more freedom to shine a light on these accomplishments with your online profile, and adding them is a great way to tell employers more about you. Depending on the job, these extra elements could also provide major boosts to your hiring potential.
At this stage, it’s important to remember that you can and should tweak your printed resume so that it is tailored to each job opportunity you pursue. LinkedIn can be your home base for complete and detailed resume content. But as you apply for jobs, if you think certain details about awards, volunteer work, or published works could help you land a specific job, grab those details from your LinkedIn profile and incorporate them into your traditional resume for that application.
Therein lies one of the big benefits of being able to pass the “Printed Resume vs. Online Profile Test.” If the details in your traditional resume and on your LinkedIn page are accurate, honest, and consistent, you will be able to use your LinkedIn profile to update and customize your resume as necessary. Being vigilant about keeping both resources up-to-date will increase your chances of landing your dream job.
Michael Klazema has been developing products for criminal background check and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.