I was recently asked about the difference between a resume and an online career profile. Is there a difference? Should there be a difference? Are they considered in different ways? What should be included or avoided?
Good question… short answer… YES! They are different.
There are a number of things to consider when creating a professional profile online vs. creating a resume to email or present to a company, or when applying for a specific role.
Here are some thoughts that can help…
When creating a resume for a specific company or position you are pursuing, it’s critical that you tailor it for the specific recipient. Emphasize the experience you’ve had that would be most important to that particular company or position. Although your experience may be very broad, if they don’t very quickly see the direct related experience for the role, it’s unlikely you will be considered further. Using words from their job description, their terminology, and giving special attention to the skills you have that are directly applicable to their requirements is key. The extra effort involved in customizing your resume for each individual application will pay off in a greater chance at a response.
When creating an online profile, whether it be a LinkedIn profile, your personal professional website, a Visual CV, a job board, or any number of other venues online to post your information… it has to appeal to a broader audience. You won’t know who will see it, or what kind of role they have in mind when they’re looking.
Although you may be interested in a variety of opportunities when you are applying, the viewer generally only has one role they are looking to fill. Your online profile should help them understand all your experience and see the fit for multiple roles.
~ An online profile isn’t limited to two printed pages! While it’s usually not a good idea to create a submitted resume that’s more than 2 pages long, you don’t have that kind of restriction with an online profile. You can include much more information, more detail, more accomplishments, more strengths, and more keywords. Keywords are important, as that’s the most likely way they will find you. Include as many keywords as you can think of that someone might use to find someone with your background. With more detail, the likelihood of being found in a search rises, and it gives the viewer a greater chance of finding what they are looking for.
In an online profile, just as in a resume, it’s important that your information is written in short, substantive, sentences and/or bullet points. When someone is scanning your information, short lines will get read, paragraphs will not. It’s important that they grasp your experience quickly and easily, in order to gain their further interest.
~ An online profile can include testimonials! A submitted resume doesn’t generally have the space, and it’s not the best venue to include third party comments. However, an online profile can be a great place to include reference information and comments to “back up” the assertions you make about yourself in your profile. It’s great to express your strengths and accomplishments, it’s even better when someone else confirms them as well.
~ Consistency is key! It’s critically important that a resume you submit to a company, and your online profile agree with each other! Nothing will torpedo your chances for an opportunity faster than the appearance of an attempt to deceive. Although the resume you present may not give the entire picture of your full responsibilities in a particular position, it should never contradict the more detailed description. If your role was as an Office Manager of a small business, and your responsibilities included accounting, your resume should never make it appear as if your entire role was as an Accountant.
In today’s job market, and with easy access to search engines, it’s HIGHLY likely that somewhere in the hiring process someone at the organization you are pursuing will Google you and find your profile online. If the information you have posted there contradicts what they received from you directly, it’s unlikely they will proceed with you further. The resume and online profile can complement each other, but be consistent.
~ Links! When presenting a resume, it’s not usually easy, or necessarily appropriate to include links to websites online. An online profile is ideal for this though and can often enhance your presentation and credibility. You can include links to other professional sites where you have information posted. Link all of your relevant online presence together… LinkedIn, personal professional website, Visual CV, etc. You might also link to a professional blog you write, articles you’ve been published in, online recognition you’ve received, etc.
Be very conscious, and careful of your overall online presence. A racy Facebook or MySpace page can be harmful to your online reputation. Comments or less than professional pictures or articles attributed to you can damage your chances of being considered for a position further. Be sure everything you link to only shows you in the best and most professional light possible, and try to clean up anything else that may be found by Google that might hurt.
Working together, a resume and a professional online presence can be a powerful combination. However, manage them carefully!