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LinkedIn is More Important Than Your Resume

by Matt Jones, CPA
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Last week I was introduced to my coworker’s son, Mark. He just graduated college, moved back to town and is looking for a job in human resources or marketing. Mark is applying online for jobs, but hasn’t had much luck. I agreed to have lunch with him and provide some advice.

We started by reviewing Mark’s resume, which is actually very good. He graduated with a high GPA and was president of several organizations. There’s no reason he should struggle getting hired. My only change to his resume was to cut it from two pages to one. There’s no negotiating here: one page.

Then I told Mark LinkedIn is the new resume. While he (and you) still needs a paper resume to apply for certain jobs, people will view LinkedIn more often. We spent the rest of our lunch talking about improving his LinkedIn. Here’s what I shared with Mark.

Build Your Network

The best time to build your network is before you need it, and trust me, you’ll need it.

Only connect on Linkedin with those people you’ve actually met – professors, coworkers, neighbors and your parents friends – at least at first. A word of caution: do not send random, unsolicited invitations to people. This will do more harm than good. 1 Focus on your second degree connections (connections of your connections) to find more people you know.

Professional-Looking Photo

If you don’t have a professional headshot, do the best you can. Until a year ago, I didn’t have one myself. I chose the most “professional-looking” one I could find and cropped out my family… ruthless. Don’t take a selfie and don’t skip a photo entirely.

Original photo
Cropped photo for LinkedIn

Recruiters Use LinkedIn

90% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn. In fact, one recruiter told me they sometimes hire based on LinkedIn profiles without asking for a formal resume. Don’t be surprised if a recruiter reviews your LinkedIn profile before an interview, just like you check Facebook when online dating.

Recruiters also use LinkedIn to see who you have as mutual connections; then they ask those people their opinion of you.

Stay Up to Date

Your LinkedIn isn’t limited to one page like a resume. Did I mention your resume should only be one page?

As you add skills, earn degrees/certifications, and change jobs you’ll update your LinkedIn. Unlike your resume, it would be unusual for someone to print out your LinkedIn, so it’s always up-to-date when they view it online. That’s why you want to be connected to your whole network on LinkedIn, especially anyone with which you might interview.

Stay Top of Mind

Your network will get updates of your achievements and promotions on LinkedIn and also see any comments or articles you share. Be sure to do so in a professional manner; you want to stay top of mind for the right reasons.

It’s not always the most talented candidate who hears about job opportunities; often, it’s the Recency Effect 2 3 in action. Make it easy for people to think of you and reach out to you for good opportunities.

Speed Up the Hiring Process

Referral candidates are hired faster than candidates sourced through career sites. Think about it, if a hiring manager gets a recommendation from a longtime employee or friend, you can bet the recruiter will take it seriously. 4

I’ve experienced hires through an online application and through a referral. Both times when I was referred, I was hired, negotiated my salary up, but never provided my resume.

What you know and who you know matter, both of which are under your control.

Improve your LinkedIn

Here’s some of the low-hanging fruit you can knock out easily.

  1. Double check spelling. Have one or more people spell and grammar-check your profile
  2. Avoid buzzwords. “team-player” “self-starter”
  3. Use numbers. i.e. I managed a team of four and reduced expenses by $30,000.
  4. Write in the first person.

LinkedIn allows you to upload your resume and pre-populate many of the suggested fields.

Join with Resume

Want more? Check out Resume Worded’s LinkedIn Review, a tool I’ve used to improve my own LinkedIn. 5

Have specific questions? Email me.

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