How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile to Complement Your Resume
Most of us live two lives. One life takes place in the real world, where we move from place to place, encountering other beings along the way. Interactions and communication are in real-time.
The other life is lived online. Here we create a digital version of ourselves with various online profiles, writings, photo posts, etc.
Sometimes we interact with others through social networks and messenger services. And we are always just a short search or few clicks away from billions of other people living online.
So what’s with the sociology lesson? Well, the point I’m trying to make is that nowadays job seekers should take a close look at the digital version of themselves because it’s almost a certainty that recruiters will search for them online.
Your online profile cuts both ways when it comes to job searching. Those Facebook photos of your wild weekend in Ibiza might not portray you in the most professional light, so make sure that they aren’t published for everyone to see.
At the same time, you can take steps to make sure that your professional image is supported online. LinkedIn is without question your best friend when it comes bolstering your chances of getting hired through social media.
But, LinkedIn is only going to help you if you know how to use it to your advantage. And that’s where we come in. We’re going to tell you how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Why your LinkedIn profile is no substitute for your resume
- How to use LinkedIn to complement your resume
- Best practices for setting up your LinkedIn profile
Ready? Let’s get to it!
LinkedIn Profile ≠ Resume
A couple of years ago, LinkedIn discontinued its resume builder service. Instead, you now have the option of exporting your LinkedIn profile to a PDF or sharing it with a link. This might seem like a tempting shortcut for creating your resume.
We are all for simplicity and efficiency, especially since that’s what makes our resume builder so great. But easy doesn’t always mean effective. And that’s the problem with exporting or sharing your resume directly from LinkedIn.
We’ve said this countless times before: an effective resume needs to be customized to specific job opportunities. Your focus when applying for a job should be to persuade a recruiter that your skills and experience match the job requirements.
Unless you plan on updating the content of your LinkedIn profile for every job that you apply for, the content you export won’t be aligned with recruiters’ needs.
You will be sending the recruiter a long list of past responsibilities and experiences that may or may not be relevant to the prospective position.
How to use your LinkedIn profile to complement your resume
A better strategy than simply using your LinkedIn profile as a resume is to use it as the launching point for a position-specific, customized resume.
One of the luxuries of LinkedIn is that you have almost infinite space for listing all of the great things you’ve done in past roles, along with other skills and achievements.
Our advice is to take advantage of this space, especially since your resume space is more constrained.
Develop your LinkedIn profile to be a robust, comprehensive account of your professional qualifications.
Then, when it comes to applying for a specific job, you can pull the bits and pieces from your LinkedIn profile that you feel are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Of course, some tweaking may be necessary.
Once you have a customized resume be sure you include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume. That way, you can encourage a recruiter to discover even more about you.
Best practices for setting up your LinkedIn profile
Before you start directing potential employers to your LinkedIn page, there are two steps you should take.
A) Make yourself easy to find
Like most social media websites, LinkedIn has a variety of different privacy and visibility options. When you go to your LinkedIn profile page, in the top right corner, you will find a button called “Edit public profile & URL”.
This is where you will find the options to select what elements of your profile can be viewed by whom, including your LinkedIn contacts, other LinkedIn members, or the general public who may come across your profile through Google searches.
Here you also have the option to create a short, customized URL for your LinkedIn profile. It will follow the format of www.linkedin.com/in/NAME. It’s a good idea to change this from the long, default link.
Try to select something concise so that it’s easy for recruiters to remember and that it fits nicely when included on your resume or other social media accounts.
Creating inbound links to your LinkedIn profile by adding your profile link on your personal social accounts, blog or other websites will provide additional avenues for companies and recruiters to discover you.
B) Perfect your LinkedIn profile content
Assume that every recruiter is going to eventually find their way to your LinkedIn profile. With this in mind, you want to put your best (digital) foot forward. Like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should stand out in order to make a lasting impression.
As already mentioned, you have the opportunity to include a lot more content on your LinkedIn profile than what goes on your resume. So, you might as well take full advantage and complete as many profile elements as you can.
LinkedIn will even give you reminders about areas that are incomplete in order to help strengthen your profile.
As for specific content considerations, here are a few suggestions for improving your LinkedIn profile so that it supports your job search:
1) LinkedIn Photo
Yes, it helps to put a face to a name. Choose a professional photo that is suitable for recruiters to see. Match it with the photo on your resume, if have one.
2) LinkedIn Headline
When you go to edit your profile, right under your name, you have an option to select a headline. This is what will appear on Google searches if a recruiter tries to look up your name.
The default setting is for the headline to display your current work position, but you can change this to be something more persuasive or reflective of more than just your job.
For example, if you are an experienced engineer, instead of your current job title, you may want to use something like “Professional engineer and renewable energy advocate”.
3) LinkedIn Summary
The summary section is your chance to give people a snapshot of who you are, what you have to offer and what drives you.
Unlike a resume summary statement, the LinkedIn summary is longer and lets you create a powerful image of yourself with more words.
You should still be concise with your summary since your goal is to be persuasive and memorable.
Be sure to use keywords that relevant to your field. This shows your expertise, but it is also valuable for search engine optimization, helping your name become associated with certain Google search terms.
LinkedIn Summary Example:
4) Additional LinkedIn Sections
Since space on your resume is tight, you probably won’t be able to include all your amazing career or educational accomplishments. But on your LinkedIn profile, you can add these elements.
On your profile, when you click on “Add profile section” you can select everything from test scores to patents to publications.
Review the options and don’t be afraid to add sections that you think can support your job search. You can also use these sections to expand on elements you may have listed on your resume or cover letter.
For example, if you mention a specific project or work output on a job application, you can upload content related to this work on your LinkedIn profile so recruiters can see it for themselves.
5) LinkedIn Contact information
Don’t overlook the importance of this simple information. For privacy reasons, you may not want to include your phone number or direct e-mail under this section, unless you restrict the visibility of your profile to personal contacts.
But if you have a personal blog, website or portfolio link that you want recruiters to see, this is where to put it.
6) Get endorsements and recommendations
One of the elements you almost certainly won’t be able to add to your resume is a series of endorsements from current or past co-workers.
However, on LinkedIn, when you add a certain skill to your profile, you can also be endorsed for that skill by people in your network. These endorsements can offer confirmation to potential employers that you practice what you preach.
You can ask your LinkedIn contacts to endorse you for these skills, or you can ask them to write a more complete recommendation that will go on your profile.
This recommendation feature is a great way to build your credibility and will complement any formal references that you may have to provide as part of a job application.
A professional and strategically crafted LinkedIn profile may not be part of a formal job application requirement, but it is a valuable informal source of information to recruiters.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an extra tool for persuasion.
It’s a good idea to point recruiters directly to your profile by including a LinkedIn link on your resume.
But even if you don’t, they will probably go searching for you online anyway. When they do, show them that you are more than just your resume or cover letter conveys.