Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Monday, August 13, 2007

LinkedIn vs Resumes: Where does one stop and the other start?

I have a rule: If somebody appears to me in a dream, I make an effort to contact them in real life. It's always seemed like bad karma to do otherwise. Similarly, when LinkedIn popped up in my life repeatedly over the past month, I feel compelled to share and write about it. When I sat down to think about all of it, I couldn't help but wonder where my resume leaves off and my LinkedIn profile begin? What's the relationship between the two? Do I still need both?

First, the incidents:
  • About a month ago I got a cold email from a recruiter looking to place a web Chief Architect at a multi-million dollar in annual revenue global company. I've discovered job opportunities from friends before, but this was the first time I got pinged by somebody I never heard of and it was for a job I was actually a good fit for. As you might have guessed, the recruiter found me through my LinkedIn profile and we had a nice conversation. I'm happy where I am at HP, but now I have a nice contact with a recruiter I didn't have before.

  • Last week, I got an introductory email from Mindy Roberts, who runs The Mommy Blog and saw a message I sent out to a Yahoo group we both belong to. She looked up my LinkedIn profile and shared that we were both at UC San Diego at the same time. Then she shared that she worked for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, giving us another common interest. We went on to have a nice exchange (and discovered we both have high energy 5 year old daughters too), which would have never started without LinkedIn since she would have had no other way to easily discover those details about me, very much in line with an earlier post of mine on using LinkedIn before meetings to make a better impression.

  • Last month, I had an email conversation with Liz Handlin, who runs about whether or not she should add LinkedIn profile assistance to her portfolio of services and then Thursday, Scott Allen at LinkedIntelligence starts running a series on LinkedIn Extreme Makeovers.

What's going on here?

People are using this service to discover very pertinent information about others for a variety of purposes. We're starting to treat these profiles like resumes as we've begun to use similar methods to construct and critique them, but does that mean a LinkedIn profile will eventually replace a resume? Am I going to apply for a job some day by sending a URL and that's it?

For now, at least, I think you still need a resume. It can be tailored to highlight particular skills for specific situations. Hiring managers still need a way to quickly assess whether or not you are a good fit for a job and be pushed that information.

But, I think the day is rapidly approaching in the future where if you don't have a LinkedIn profile it will be like not having an email address today. Your LinkedIn profile is not your resume, but it's your proactive online persona. It lets you say to the world, "here are some things about me and my job history you might find interesting." When someone is trying to pull information about you as a recruiter might when looking to fill a position with very specific skills or you might if you are trying to find an interesting side discussion to have at a first time meeting with a new person you want to make an impression on, it is extremely useful.

That LinkedIn profile is how you enable people to find things out about you even if you have no idea who might find it useful or why. That's a very different context than a resume, which tells things about you for a specific reason. I'm betting that you'll always need that resume, but if you don't have it already, you're going to need that LinkedIn profile too.


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 8:40 AM   3 comments


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Pete Johnson said...

Freaky Follow-up:

I wrote this article on Saturday afternoon and posted it Monday. Saturday night, with my brain playing tricks on me because of the first sentence I wrote in the original post, a friend I hadn't seen in almost 20 years was in a dream I had. When I Googled him, his LinkedIn profile was the second result (cue creepy music).

I sent him a LinkedIn invitation late Sunday and heard from him Monday afternoon. We've exchanged a few emails during the week. Weird, weird reconnection.

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Ben Yoskovitz said...

I think your LinkedIn profile is very close to your resume.

It's lacking the "cover letter" polish, but it does allow for nice personalization and plenty of detail.

Add endorsements (those you've received and made) and it also provides decent reference material.

I agree that currently, you still need to push a resume to HR folks for them to look at it. And they've got Applicant Tracking Systems in place that parse resumes for keywords, etc. (for what it's worth)

Still, HR folks should definitely search out their top candidates on LinkedIn, whether those candidates supplied their LinkedIn profiles or not. And they should search elsewhere for that matter too...

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Wendee said...

I agree with Ben. I'll first find candidates' portfolios (product designers = visual work) on online portfolio posting sites. I find that designers with a bit more experience will also have LinkedIn profiles and/or personal websites. On website, I'm interested to find separate pages that talk "About me", and a CV. The resume format is still a nice concise presentation, but more and more, it's helpful to also get a sense of someone's personality, in their own words. So, LinkedIn has been a nice way to get away with adding a bit of personality in describing work experience, and to include all of one's experience. This way, as a recruiter, I can see more about a person than just what a tailored resume might include, for example. I discovered that an instructor of mine, in addition to having great experience in human-factors and usability, was a professional ice-skater early on, too. I enjoy finding out these tidbits, so I enjoy the more casual approach that some people take with their LinkedIn profiles.

It's been a surprisingly pleasant way to be out there on the internet for people to find you. I've been amazed to find classmates from *all* my alma maters, all in one place, that I hadn't really expected to find. It's been a great tool to get in touch with them, and professionals, but also, occasionally, like-minded people, as you'd mentioned in your post, where you may have had some kind of overlapping experience. Some people are very cautious about just adding people they actually know; some are at the other end of the spectrum. I'm somewhere in the middle - open to chance meetings.


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