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Your LinkedIn Profile vs. Your Resume: What's the Difference?

06/16/2015 02:36 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2016

Why hasn't LinkedIn completely replaced the need for resumes?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable tool, but it's not design to be an online resume. It can be used as that, yes, but it's not its core purpose.

Different purposes, different writing

LinkedIn is used for a variety of purposes. One of the major ones is business networking. Another one is as an online resume. Those are actually implemented slightly different ways.

When you're interacting with me in a business capacity, you want to know what I'm responsible for. What I can and can't do for you. I might list on my LinkedIn profile that I "oversee operations for X, Y, and Z". This is totally public (often) and that's okay. I write it given that it's totally public. It's more focused on what I'm currently responsible for: the present, rather than the past.

When I'm writing a resume though, I'm basically trying to show off my biggest accomplishments. The things in the past. I might write that I improved X by Y%, or that I built Z. It's focused on saying, "Look at the cool stuff that I've already accomplished."

Privacy

Not everyone wants everything they've done in the past to be totally public, viewable to all. Many people are very private. Do you want to post your GPA, test scores, etc totally publicly? Most people don't.

Additionally, many people push the limits, just slightly, in listing what they've done. They don't necessarily want their coworkers to call them out on it.

Finally, your company might not want you to list publicly how you worked them through some major issue. Listing it on your resume is substantially more private, even if it's not actually "confidential."

Stale Data

When you write a resume, it should be up-to-date with your most recent and relevant accomplishments. Before you send it in, you'll likely give it a quick skim to make sure that it has the content you want.

People don't keep their LinkedIn profile up-to-date, inserting each big accomplishment after it happens. Perhaps they should, but they don't.

In fact, many job seekers are nervous to update their LinkedIn profile for fear that it might signal to their current employer that they're looking for a new job.

Permanent Record

Many companies want to keep a permanent record of your application. Your LinkedIn profile can change. Sure, they could just export a copy of your LinkedIn profile... but then why not just have you email them a resume?

Tailoring

A LinkedIn profile is basically one-size-fits-all. A lot of people want to tailor their resumes for the position, and you can't do that with LinkedIn.

If I were to apply for a job now, I would create a wildly different resumes depending on the role I'm applying for. I would focus more on one area than another. I can't do that on LinkedIn.

Adjustment & Motivation

What motivation does a company have to use your LinkedIn profile? They can't really presume that they can use your LinkedIn profile instead of a resume. It's not a perfect replacement in most cases. As the recruiter wants to present you in a good light, they want to make sure that they have the best version of your profile. So they'll ask for a resume. You can provide that however you want.

What motivation does a candidate have to change? If you think your LinkedIn profile suffices as a resume for you, then you can just export it and use it. But for many people, it's not an adequate replacement. They'll want something tailored for their current usage.

We are seeing more and more people being okay with just a LinkedIn profile, but it takes time. Resumes have been used forever, and people are very comfortable with this process. People don't quickly change things that work just fine, especially if they're actually better in many ways.

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