Young woman holds resume up in front of her face

4 Differences Between a Resume and a LinkedIn Profile

Kelli Thomason

As a recruiter, I’m often asked to review a resume and provide feedback to help guide a candidate in developing a stellar personal branding document. However, only a few times in my career have I been asked, “Would you mind reviewing my LinkedIn profile?” If your most recent visit to LinkedIn was when you visited the career services center at your alma matter, it might be time to click “Forgot password?” and give your profile a face lift. Before you point your browser to the top social networking site for the business community, it might help to understand a few of the many differences between a resume and your LinkedIn profile.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a resume is “a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous experience, typically sent with a job application.” LinkedIn’s purpose, on the other hand, is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” In other words, it’s the world’s largest professional networking site where you can manage your professional identity, build your network, and access information that provides professional insights and opportunities. Given the different, yet related, purposes of a resume and online profile, there are a few items to note when deciding how to update each.

A resume is the means to an interview. As such, it should be tailored for each opportunity you’re exploring to ensure the skills, knowledge, and abilities you bring to the position are highlighted succinctly and clearly to the reviewer. A LinkedIn profile, however, is typically broader and may include several skills that attract a wider audience (such as recruiters and hiring managers from multiple industries) who may want to learn more about your accomplishments and abilities in a certain context. If your profile is as narrowly focused as a resume, you could be missing out on some great connections and opportunities!

We’ve all heard the advice that a resume should typically consist of no more than one to two pages (except for federal resumes, of course, which could justify its own article!). This is primarily due to the limited amount of time a recruiter or hiring manager has to peruse the hundreds of resumes often received for just one job opening. On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile can showcase your entire professional identity. Because you aren’t targeting any one person or position, there’s no reason to throttle the flow of information. Take advantage of the space by displaying recommendations from colleagues, subordinates, and superiors, for example, which are not typically included in a resume.

Do you speak more than one language? Chances are you’ve noted your bi-lingual talent somewhere on your resume –  if you haven’t, you should consider doing so! However, most candidates do not provide a supplemental document written in the second language. Did you know you can create an entire LinkedIn profile in a second language? Stand out to your network and potential future colleagues by creating a parallel profile that speaks to their business needs and desired cultural diversity.

Some may argue that it’s hard to “stand out” on LinkedIn like you can with a resume due to the standardized format of the LinkedIn profile. Whereas a resume can be tailored with formatting and content, a LinkedIn profile doesn’t offer as many options for customization. I disagree! Add relevant multimedia content like photos, videos, and presentations. Link to your online portfolio or published articles. Include a professional photo and use a photo testing tool such as to help select an image that is widely appealing. Exploit the available tools and options that, in some industries, may be considered taboo when included on a resume.

In the end, your resume and LinkedIn profile are two similar yet different assets that should be part of your professional toolbox. When used for their intended purposes, each will provide a strong advantage in their own way. While it can be overwhelming to think about updating one or both, the time and effort is certainly worth it and can pay dividends through new career opportunities.

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