PERSONAL-BRANDING STEEL-CAGE GRUDGE MATCH: RESUME VS. LINKEDIN PROFILE

“Do I really need a resume AND a LinkedIn profile – aren’t they pretty much the same thing?” To answer that question, try looking at it this way:

Your personal brand is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the premier organization in mixed martial arts, hosting most of the top-ranked fighters in the world.

Your resume is UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson, 5’3”, 125 lbs., known for speed, conditioning and technique.

Your LinkedIn profile is UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, 6’1”, 240 lbs., known for power, takedowns and well-roundedness.

Which fighter best represents the UFC brand? Both. Johnson and Cain contribute equally to the UFC’s brand identity. They are complementary brand assets. Their skill sets overlap, but they deploy different skills in different combinations in response to the “fight-specific” challenges they face in the cage. Fans want to see the flyweight AND the heavyweight and all the other weights, which is why fight cards feature matchups at VARIOUS weight classes. 

Which personal-branding resource best represents Brand You? Both. Your resume and your LinkedIn profile contribute equally to your personal brand identity. They are complementary personal-branding assets. The skill sets they present overlap, but they showcase different skills in different combinations in response to the “site-specific” needs of prospective employers. (The designation “site-specific,” borrowed from environmental art, denotes a work created to occupy a certain setting; the content of the work is inseparable from the setting.) Hiring managers want to see your resume AND your LinkedIn profile and all the other assets in your personal-branding array, which is why you need an ARRAY of personal-branding assets.

Your Resume: The Crisp Jab, The Short Shot

Whether printed on a piece of paper or saved as a PDF (the two “sites” customarily occupied by resumes), your resume is a static document, an analog snapshot of your professional person that must be targeted to a particular job. It has sections like “summary,” “experience” and “education.” It’s a page long, and it links, via staple, to the piece of paper your cover letter’s printed on.

Your LinkedIn profile, on the other hand, is a dynamic record, a digital representation of your professional person that can be either highly targeted or wildly comprehensive. It has sections like “summary,” “experience” and “education” – and many more. It’s potentially a centillion pages long, and it links, via the magic of the Internet, to your portfolio, your online publications – and much more.

“Well, then,” you may be thinking, “LinkedIn wins with a knock out; I’ll bag the resume and just send my LinkedIn URL to prospective employers.” Not so fast, fella. At least for now, the traditional resume remains the employment standard. Prospective employers want to see how you present yourself in this format. Virtually every hiring manager will ask for your resume at some point in the hiring process. When that point arrives, if you can’t produce one, it’s fight over. “Fine,” you say, “the resume wins by decision; I’ll ditch the LinkedIn profile.” Hold your horses, bub.

Whether or not the hiring manager has seen your resume, if she looks for you on LinkedIn and doesn’t find you, consider yourself out cold on the canvas. Because LinkedIn has become the DIGITAL employment standard. Even more handy for someone looking to acquaint herself with you online, LinkedIn is a SOCIAL MEDIA tool (your resume is not). It provides entry to a personal-branding playground you can't access from a piece of paper or a PDF. Its capacity is colossal (your resume’s is not).

Your LinkedIn Profile: The Hammer-Fist Swarm, The Sprawl And Brawl

“Alright, alright, I need a resume AND a LinkedIn profile,” you concede, “but can’t I just paste the sections of my resume into my LinkedIn profile?” You CAN, but that would be akin to a top UFC fighter relying solely on what he earns inside the octagon and failing to capitalize on the income streams he could tap OUTSIDE it – like a cut of pay-per-view revenues, endorsements, book proceeds … If you could heighten the profile of your personal brand by building out your LinkedIn presence with content that compliments your resume, why wouldn’t you? Why risk looking like a chump when you can look like a champ?

Aside from its social-media capabilities, LinkedIn allows for more text than a resume, thus a greater opportunity for career storytelling. Your resume summary, for instance, will likely max out at around 100 words, or 831 characters. Your LinkedIn summary, however, can and should be 2,000 characters – a relative bonanza of personal-branding real estate. 

Your LinkedIn profile also departs from your resume in style, tone and nuance. For one thing, the traditional resume is generally expected to be written in the odd, person-implied, article-free lingo found only in resumes, whereas your LinkedIn summary should absolutely be written in the first person. Likewise, the tone of your LinkedIn profile is more casual and conversational than that of your resume. 

Here’s a resume experience-section bullet point:

Engineered Hard Rock Calling concert incentive program for military markets; established industry benchmark for backstage experiences; achieved segment increase of 150% over 5 years.

Here’s the same story in a couple of LinkedIn experience-section paragraphs:

Keeping a 40-year-old brand relevant takes creativity, which we tapped into with theyearly Hard Rock Calling music festival in London. This essential expression of the brand features acts like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Stevie Wonder. These weekends bolster relationships by creating memories that last a lifetime.

They’re also a great marketing opportunity; I came up with a campaign targeting military personnel called “Why My Spouse Rocks” to raise our profile in the key military market. Readers of Military Spouse magazine submitted essays explaining why their better half was deserving of an exclusive backstage experience. The result? A segment increase of 150% in five years. 

As you can see, the compact resume sample and the more expansive LinkedIn example work together to fill out your personal brand, just as the pint-sized Demetrious Johnson and super-sized Cain Velasquez work together to flesh out the UFC’s unparalleled roster.