When I’m working with a new client and take a look at his/her LinkedIn profile (if the individual has one), I often see either a bare-bones profile or one that is clearly a verbatim online version of the client’s existing resume. Since he/she is usually coming to me for resume help, that’s a concern from the get-go because it typically means the LinkedIn profile is based on a resume that doesn’t represent the person well.
If this situation could describe you, don’t despair. All is certainly not lost. First, you can and should improve your resume before you try to revamp your LinkedIn profile, for at least two reasons:
1) If all you do is paste portions of the resume into the profile, you will at least have the foundation for a stronger profile once your resume is in good shape.
2) When you update your LinkedIn profile, you need to make sure there’s no disconnect between it and your most recent resume. That is, the profile shouldn’t contain information that contradicts or doesn’t mesh well with what’s in your resume. The same people who will see and scrutinize your resume will most likely also be reviewing your LinkedIn profile, and discrepancies will raise a major red flag.
My advice to clients generally emphasizes the importance of making the resume a strong standalone document—one that represents you compellingly and concisely to employers for positions you’re interested in pursuing. Unless you upload that resume to online job boards (not a high-return method but possibly worth considering), potential employers will only see it when you submit it to them for specific opportunities.
On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile stays active and visible 24/7. That means it can be “working” for you all the time, even when you’re sleeping! You can certainly copy and paste relevant portions of your new resume into your profile; however, you’re not as limited in terms of space as you are on the resume. Consequently, you can expand and strengthen some of the information from your resume in the profile, particularly in the Summary section, which allows up to 2,000 characters and spaces.
A note of caution about using your resume to create a LinkedIn profile: If you have included any details in your resume that reveal information a present or former employer could consider confidential or proprietary, you already have a potential problem to resolve. If you upload that same information to your LinkedIn profile, you’ve just seriously aggravated the problem. Review your new resume thoroughly before you submit it anywhere, including to your LinkedIn profile, to avoid that pitfall.