Should You Use Your Resume or Profile When Applying to Jobs on LinkedIn?

linkedin or resumeUsing LinkedIn’s Jobs feature as a job board for your search? A handy tool for job seekers, LinkedIn Jobs offers a “Apply with your Profile” option—allowing you to show your interest with just one click.

You may have noticed, though, that a resume and cover letter can also be uploaded for your job application. So what should you do – include both items in your application?

Is it really necessary to provide a resume when employers can see your LinkedIn Profile?

The answer to both questions is yes, and here’s why. If your LinkedIn Profile is set up correctly, you’ll gain interest from employers looking for related talent (even without applying to jobs).

In addition, tweaking your resume for specific submissions can pay off in more responses, due to better matching on company Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and a sharper, more focused message likely to impress employers.

Here are 3 steps to maximize your response from employers when applying to LinkedIn Job postings:

1 – First, tune your LinkedIn Profile to represent ideal positions.

Your Profile should already be fit for review, especially since employers and recruiters are constantly scouring LinkedIn for talent.

But if you haven’t populated all sections of LinkedIn with appropriate keyword content, you’ll struggle to make a good impression when applying to job postings (and employers will have a harder time finding you!).

To get the best results from applying to jobs, while receiving the maximum amount of traffic on your Profile, fill in these highly indexed sections of LinkedIn with as much keyword-specific detail as possible:

  • Headline (with meaningful information other than the default current job title)
  • Summary
  • Experience (including job descriptions and achievements)
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Skills & Expertise
  • Projects (which allow you to provide drill-down detail into initiatives you’ve completed in each job)
  • Contact Information (using both a mobile number and email address, both of which are surprising omissions from many Profiles)
  • Honors (yet another section where you can note related expertise and skills)

When adding data in each of these areas, use achievements and metrics that demonstrate success in past jobs. You’ll need to specify as many keywords as possible to build a solid base of information that matches the types of jobs you’re pursuing.

Pull in terms related to your desired industry, career level, job title, and technology abilities—gleaning keyword content from job postings and other Profiles that match the position you want.

Even if you’re pursuing different types of jobs, your Profile should contain a reasonable match for each of your goals.

2 – Next, create several versions of your resume, with adjustments for emphasis on specific skills.

Since many job hunters pursue career opportunities in a variety of related roles, you’ll need slightly altered resumes to reflect the requirements for different jobs (whether posted on LinkedIn or found elsewhere).

For example, a candidate with both sales and marketing skills might find postings for a Marketing Director, Sales & Marketing Manager, and Business Development & Marketing VP.

In this case, it makes sense to prepare 3 resumes, each with varying emphasis on sales, promotional, or business development skills. These different resumes can also be used downplay the less relevant facts of the applicant’s background, replacing success stories related to one set of skills with achievements more closely matched to the job specification.

An added benefit? Creating several different resume versions will also allow you to put resume headlines and taglines at the top of your document—increasing your resume’s appeal to the right audience.

3 – Before applying to a LinkedIn Job posting, alter the matching resume for better keyword content.

When applying to a job, note the keywords used in the description of requirements and duties, using a word cloud application. Follow these steps for each job you’re targeting:

  • First, paste the job description into Wordle (Wordle.net) or Tag Crowd (tagcrowd.com) to obtain a word cloud pattern.
  • Next, do the same with the resume you’ve selected for use.
  • Now, compare your Wordle results.
  • If you see patterns indicating substantial discrepancies, take some time to adjust your resume to prove you fit the requirements of the posting.

Following this step to tweak your resume can result in a closer match with employer ATS systems, which are often part of the screening process used by companies advertising jobs on LinkedIn. Be sure to interject keywords into resume sentences for better ATS matching.

Compare your newly revised resume to the same word cloud when finished. While a perfect match will be nearly impossible, you should see a significant increase in the alignment between the posting and your customized resume.

You can also include a cover letter in the resume file (pasted directly in front of the document), with the same changes for improved keyword content.

Then, upload the resume document as a reply to the job posting. With each application, keep track of your responses as a measure of your LinkedIn Profile-Resume matching efforts. You may need to adjust your methods for future job applications.

In summary, don’t wait for employers to request your resume from LinkedIn (they won’t!), and don’t rely on your LinkedIn Profile to do all the talking for you.

Take the time to put a well-written resume in front of them that aligns with your Profile, with a strong description of your brand value and the right mix of keywords for your target job.

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