When LinkedIn first started in 2002, it was entirely acceptable for your profile to be a replica of your resume — simply because even having a profile made you a trailblazer.
Today, roughly two decades later, that’s no longer the case. LinkedIn is a leading professional networking platform with over 774 million users, across more than 200 countries.
So while your resume and profile are similar in terms of objective, it’s important to understand their differences so you can use them effectively in your job search.
Should Your LinkedIn Profile Match Your Resume?
No, it shouldn’t.
While both your resume and your LinkedIn profile contain important facts about your career, they typically don’t share the same facts in the same way.
Your LinkedIn profile allows you to craft a more creative and personal narrative. It offers a platform to communicate your personal brand alongside your most important skills and experience.
Your resume, however, is a customized document with a specific job objective.
Is it Better to Apply for Jobs with LinkedIn or a Resume?
Not necessarily, but you can apply with both!
Fortunately, most job sites allow you to apply with your LinkedIn profile and attach your resume.
While the two have different tones, they work well in combination. Your LinkedIn profile is informal and conversational and allows you to include personal characteristics, while your resume is formal and offers career-specific insight.
If you apply with your LinkedIn profile, most recruiters will request your resume, and if you apply with your resume, they’ll peruse your profile too.
LinkedIn vs Resume: 11 Differences
While Resumes and LinkedIn profiles share a lot of similarities, there are several differences between the two.
Let’s go through them:
1. LinkedIn Uses Profile Photos
LinkedIn all but requires you to use a photo, and doing so automatically lends credibility to your profile as it makes it more personal.
A photo boosts your personal brand. It shows recruiters you’re trustworthy, and it helps make your profile memorable.
In case you’re unaware, it’s not appropriate to use a profile picture on your resume for the following reasons:
- Space is limited. Your resume is between 1 and 3 pages long, and the space needs to be reserved for important facts.
- It could cause problems with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
- It could lead to bias towards you. It may be unfair, but the fact remains that race, age, and gender influence recruitment.
2. LinkedIn is More Driven by Keywords
LinkedIn and resumes both use keywords as they help recruiters search for candidates that fit a specific role.
On LinkedIn, an algorithm determines where your profile shows up in searches, so placing keywords strategically throughout your headline and summary allows it to show up for a wider range of search terms.
This is going to benefit you if have a wide range of skills or experience, particularly if you’re flexible in your job search.
With the rise of various Applicant Tracking Systems, keywords are still used in resumes to an extent, but the position and frequency of those keywords aren’t nearly as important.
3. You Can Have Multiple Resumes
Your LinkedIn profile is a ‘one size fits all’ application, but your resume is more targeted to a single company or role.
In fact, it’s common for job seekers to have several resumes, and, ideally, you should maintain a collection of them, each one tailored to suit the position you’re applying for.
Conversely, your LinkedIn profile would suffer if you created multiple versions of it. Managing it takes time and energy, and would result in neither profile getting your full attention.
Your profile’s strength is determined by the size of your network, and creating other profiles would mean dividing your connections, endorsements, and recommendations between them.
Besides, it’s against LinkedIn’s terms to have more than one account.
Despite these differences, your LinkedIn profile and your various resumes will share similar information about your education, experience, and skills.
4. Resumes Use a More Formal Tone
Since a resume is focused on communicating your work history to potential employers, the tone tends to be more formal.
A formal tone will typically sound more professional, whereas an informal tone is more conversational and more natural-sounding. (That’s not to say a conversational tone doesn’t work for resumes, it certainly can.)
Here are the key differences, ironically from keydifferences.com:
LinkedIn, however, tends to lean towards an informal tone.
While it does showcase your work history in a similar way, your LinkedIn profile also communicates your personal brand and the people you professionally associate with.
That extra layer of personalization encourages a more personal tone, even if a small percentage of stubborn LinkedIn users say otherwise. 😉
5. LinkedIn Profiles Share More Information
Your LinkedIn profile is a dynamic expression of your personal brand and includes both your professional history and your personal backstory.
Unlike your resume, you can describe your passion for your work, what makes you tick both professionally and personally, and the value you offer to potential employers.
With your resume, recruiters want to quickly scan it for relevant information, so space is at a premium. While you still include your career history, it’s best to leave out all explanations and technicalities.
6. Resumes Are Considered More Private
LinkedIn is a public platform, so your entire network has access to the information you share on it.
Your resume is a private document. The only person with access to it is the recruiter or potential employer you’ve sent it to, and the people they share it with.
This allows you to specifically outline your objectives for a targeted resume, which is even more important because you can’t add supplementary evidence to your resume the way you do with LinkedIn.
For that reason, you need to include as much concrete information as possible and allow the facts and figures to speak for themselves.
7. LinkedIn Profiles Can Leverage Social Proof
Your LinkedIn profile allows for social proof, and this is what helps recruiters make hiring decisions.
Social proof is the experience other people have of you, typically in the form of recommendations, reviews and/or testimonials.
It’s not just testimonials and recommendations that provide social proof on Linkedin. You’re able to generate it through the publishing of articles and links, endorsing other people, and engaging with members of your network.
8. LinkedIn Isn’t Just for Finding Work
Many people assume LinkedIn is used to find jobs, and that its purpose is to connect recruiters with job seekers.
That’s not necessarily the case.
If it was, only those seeking new employment would ever have a LinkedIn profile, and we know that isn’t true.
LinkedIn is a networking tool, and while this can be useful for those seeking work, it’s also beneficial for generating new leads as a business owner, as well as building authentic connections with like-minded professionals.
A resume is very rigid in comparison because it’s only ever utilized when being considered for a job.
9. A Resume is Written in Third Person
Resumes are conventionally formal.
As a result, you wouldn’t use pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘we’. It’s standard resume practice to write in the third person.
It comes across as more professional and polished, and allows recruiters to focus on your professional value as opposed to being distracted by your personal attributes.
LinkedIn is the opposite. Standard practice is to write in the first person.
10. LinkedIn Supports Digital Media
Your LinkedIn profile can be enhanced by including supporting media and material.
This includes things like attachments, videos, and links. The media acts as proof and aims to verify the claims you’ve made about your skills and your value, so the more evidence you include, the better.
Your resume, on the other hand, has no space for supplementary evidence. Instead, you need to include comprehensible and verifiable information to make up for that.
11. A Resume is Updated Less Frequently
Your resume should be updated with relevant information as/when changes occur within your professional life. Since it doesn’t include the scope of information that LinkedIn does, these updates occur less frequently.
As mentioned earlier, your LinkedIn profile is dynamic and changes with each connection, recommendation, or post that you make.
If you fill out your profile properly, you’ll include personal details and experiences that are likely to change more often than professional milestones do.
LinkedIn Profile vs Resume: Summary
Both LinkedIn and your resume are used to showcase your professional achievements and goals, but understanding the differences between the two allows you to use each tool for maximum effect.