Should a LinkedIn profile match your CV?

Naturally as LinkedIn is a platform for professional networking, and one that is used extensively by recruiters and employers, it is an important part of the landscape of communication around employment and future employment relationships.

So it makes sense that your LinkedIn profile should reflect and reinforce what is on your CV. It reinforces it through references and endorsements for example and by showing that you are interested in key issues related to your industry and profession.

The one thing you should never do however is copy your CV straight in to your LinkedIn profile. Here is why:

It has a different purpose

A CV is of course intended to get you selected for interview. During periods in which you are out of work, this purpose may coincide with your LinkedIn profile. But there are two main differences even if it does:

  • Employers and recruiters reading your profile have not asked you to submit a CV. It needs to get their attention in the first place. It needs to give certain information upfront in order for your target audience to know you are there. So, headlines and profile summaries are even more important here. Images are key as well. A professional head and shoulders shot if you work in an office. Very few exceptions. If you are a fitness trainer then something to reflect this is good. If you drive a truck then you could be sat in your cab. But hold off on any major gimmicks.
  • Not all readers have a suitable job – so a big sales pitch makes no difference to them. Think ‘inbound marketing’ rather than ‘end of the month sales campaign’.

It has a different audience

Not everyone who reads your LinkedIn profile is considering you for a job. You may be working with them or they may be buying from you or you may be buying from them. Or they may be within your network for some other reason. These groups want different things from your profile and a typical CV is unlikely to deliver this.

Most people network with both those within and those outside of their own industry – adding a further complication.

So, the audience is wider and with more varied needs.

It makes you look like you are seeking to move

During times when you are employed, imagine the effect of copying your entire CV into your LinkedIn profile. If it sounds like you are seeking your next job, what does that communicate to your employer, your network, your customers, suppliers and stakeholders?

Even if you are seeking work, employers and recruiters do sometimes express a preference for the ‘passive’ candidate, selective about the right opportunity rather than someone desperate to leave a job.

They way in which it is consumed is different

People read your LinkedIn profile for a wide variety of different purposes (some helpful to you and some maybe not). The reader is not necessarily sitting and reading the whole thing like you would hope they do with your CV. The information will be ordered differently, is more likely to be consumed on the move and read more quickly. Personally I’ve never been convinced by those stats about CVs being read in 6 seconds. An online profile might be though.

It depends how good your CV is of course

If your CV follows a format of brief overview of responsibilities followed by a few key achievements then you might well benefit from copying most of this onto your LinkedIn profile; tailoring to the wider audience and to the wider purpose and the different structure. Unfortunately most CVs are not this well written though. So, if your CV is 15 bullet points per job copied straight from your job description then you have quite a bit of work to do

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Graeme Jordan

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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.