The social networking site  has transformed the way we network and how smart professionals of every age find jobs.  Some “experts” are even saying that with a LinkedIn profile you don’t even need a resume. Is this true?

Resume Versus Social Media Profile

The advent of social media sites has given rise to a lot of conversation about whether, if you have a social media profile, you need a resume at all.  You need both. The technology advances that gave birth to the social media phenomenon have changed the way companies recruit and the way people find jobs. Social media sites have given recruiters another great source for finding candidates, and job seekers another great way to make themselves visible, but this does not mean the end of the resume, because there are significant differences between these communications tools.

What’s the difference?

Simply put, a good social media profile on a social networking site increases your visibility and credibility with headhunters and corporate recruiters; for them, social media sites are just new kinds of resume databases that they can search with keywords. As my esteemed friend and colleague Joyce Lain Kennedy,* author of the Careers Now column and multiple Dummies job search books, says, “The online profile is not a customized document, but is more like a one-size-fits-all pitch posted on a digital billboard that’s located on a busy information superhighway and seen, hopefully, by hordes of unknown viewers.”

A properly executed social media profile is an important job-search tool that makes you more visible, but it does not guarantee that you will be seen, or seen by the right people. It is a passive job search tool, because people have to look for it and even if they do you have limited abilities for knowing who is looking and being able to reach out in return.

Your resume, on the other hand, is both an active and a passive job search tool.

A passive job search tool: Upload your resume into resume databases, and it operates like a social media profile, making you visible to people who are actively looking for professionals like you in that particular database.

An active job search tool: You can customize your resume to one specific job or even to each company you approach. You can have different resumes for different jobs you wish to pursue, and you can send such carefully customized resumes directly to the headhunters, corporate recruiters and hiring mangers you most want to talk to. LinkedIn is the premier site for making connections and becoming visible, both within your professional community and to corporate recruiters, headhunters, and hiring managers.

It’s where you can forge your professional identity and establish professional connections that can help you for many years to come, and it is very different from the intensely personal Facebook pages many people have. While it is acceptable for young adults to have a personal social media profile, it should be sanitized of any evidence of college-era indiscretions and should reflect your emerging grown-up self, and do nothing to detract from your professional image. What you share on your LinkedIn profile needs to reflect exclusively your professional persona, the way you want to see yourself, and in turn be seen by your professional community.

You can start building your profile by simply cutting and pasting your resume into the different sections of the LinkedIn template. If you need assistance to walk you through the process, a LinkedIn profile consultant could help. Social media profiles need to sound as if you are talking directly to the reader, so because as your resume is probably written in the third person, you’ll need to re-write it using a first person voice.

Another tip to remember is that resumes tend to be very tightly focused documents, but with a social media profile you don’t have the same restrictions and can add more details about your professional capabilities. Looking back to when you wrote your resume, you may remember cutting information in order to streamline it. Some of the deathless prose that ended up on the cutting-room floor can be used here if it is relevant and adds to the story you wish to tell. You can also add more information about school, volunteer, community or church projects etc that might speak to your professional skills and credentials.

For more advice on taking control of your professional destiny check out Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.