This story of mine appeared in The Australian a few years ago (when it had the Weekend Professional Section). It’s worth re-blogging because people often ask me how useful LinkedIn site is. I’ve listed some of their pros and cons.
With the rise of social media, it’s important to remember the traditional strengths of a well-written, tightly structured and accurate resume.
I’m a professional resume writer with a background in recruitment and professional writing. LinkedIn and a resume are two very different tools with different marketing purposes. Here are some of their strengths and weaknesses.
Resumes are the first strike weapon in landing a job. They must grab the recruiter or employer’s attention quickly. This requires persuasive and factual writing aimed at a specific position, rather than an incomplete and discursive narrative often found on LinkedIn sites.
Resumes are targeted and structured career biographies that drive home not only the candidate’s suitability for an interview, but satisfy a raft of other criteria. It must show how innovations and initiatives were implemented, as well as qualitative career experience such as teamwork, management or leadership style. Very few LinkedIn sites do this.
A good resume also demonstrates research. A candidate should understand the contemporary issues facing a business and show how their results-based skills and capabilities, will help solve problems or boost performance.
A resume is formal in tone and language and includes detailed information on accomplishments and key responsibilities. It is also an outbound marketing tool aimed at specific audiences. Unlike LinkedIn, a resume can be edited into multiple versions serving different audiences or focuses.
LinkedIn has more than three million users in Australia. It currently caters mostly to mid and later career professionals. It has become a virtual ‘Rolodex’ for business people. I write LinkedIn sites for clients as a master biography and use considerably more of their experience than I would include in a resume.
A LinkedIn site is less formal and more flexible, able to accommodate a casual first-person voice. It is an inbound marketing tool aimed at getting employers and recruiters to find you – as long as the site is turned on.
LinkedIn’s best feature offers job opportunities, networking potential and niche group conversations. A results-orientated LinkedIn profile is a joy to behold. It flags to headhunters who you are and what you do.
Recruiters also look for ‘passive’ clients. These potential candidates are not actively looking for a job. But fortunately, these individuals comprise the majority of LinkedIn members. LinkedIn is superior to Facebook and Twitter because its content focuses exclusively on professional contacts, sharing, and communication.
I’m still wary about the recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn as they can be a form of popularity contest. I tell clients to only authentic endorsements.
But many LinkedIn sites in Australia are not active and so far, it has proven to be more popular with professionals in there 40s and 50s rather than young people. For LinkedIn to grow, it needs to target a younger demographic.
One of its prime weaknesses is that LinkedIn sites are not targeted. They float in cyberspace in the hope that recruiters will notice it. Many sites fail even the most basic test of writing a comprehensive career summary and including key words. If you did that on a resume, it would hit the ‘don’t interview’ pile immediately.
Over-writing and lacking a results focus bedevil both resumes and LinkedIn. Far too many applicants include information going back 20 years and list every short course undertaken – including those not completed. With LinkedIn sites there’s room to expand on selling points. With resumes, accuracy, brevity and clarity are crucial.