The author Barbara Greene once said “If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.” I wonder if LinkedIn creator Reid Hoffman had this notion of storytelling in mind when he was developing the business based social phenomenon. And I have also pondered whether he ever envisaged that the future success of his idea would effectively consign the humble CV / résumé to the recycling bin?
With circa 450 million users in over 200 countries, it’s fair to say that LinkedIn has become the meeting place for those seeking a new job, wishing to change their current employment or for an employer to find appropriate candidates to fill a vacancy. The reasons for that are complex and varied but maybe it’s because LinkedIn has significant advantages over it’s older sibling. In a nutshell, it’s much more three dimensional. It has the capacity to show high quality photographs / videos, can be more easily updated so is more likely to be real time and it shows who you know (and how you are connected) for easy cross reference. I would also say that arguably it is more personal. A résumé isn’t necessarily the best way to determine whether a potential employee will be a good social fit for a company. It’s too dry and doesn’t provide much opportunity to portray your personality, whereas LinkedIn provides more opportunities to demonstrate a little flair.
“Personal branding on LinkedIn is now more important than ever” according toChris J ‘Mohawk’ Reed who is CEO at Black Marketing, a global specialist consultancy who focus on enhancing LinkedIn for both individuals and organisations. I asked Chris to expand further and he added:
“It’s not enough to just have a profile, you must bring your personal branding to life on LinkedIn. If you don’t then your competitors for that role will. Want that dream marketing role? Make sure you have lots of marketing internships, professional bodies, endorsements and recommendations in your LinkedIn profile”
According to Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, the new Millennial generation most often forget to even bring a paper résumé to an interview. And she has an intriguing take on that as she goes on to say that:
“can hurt their chances at landing a job. A résumé on nice stock paper shows you have a sense of decorum, especially since the Millennials are being interviewed by Gen X-ers or Boomers”
Interestingly though, it’s predicted that by 2020, 46% of the workforce will be Millennials. So if that’s the case then all those X-ers and Boomers will have retired and M-Gens will be taking over those senior roles, thus giving more credence to the argument that obsolescence awaits for the résumé.
Gretchen Gunn, head of talent acquisition at Sandoz is pretty forthright in her view:
“Thanks to LinkedIn, I didn’t miss a current Wall Street Journal article discussing the death of the paper résumé. So is it true? Is the paper résumé obsolete? Yes. As a staffing partner, I always hand them back to candidates. Why? Because that paper résumé has little chance of leaving my brief case which houses my laptop, iPad, and other electronics. Our entire recruiting process is now online”
It also makes you realise how important it is to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is in good shape. Imagine what message you are sending out to prospective employers if yours is patchy and incomplete? Does it imply that you are a tech dinosaur who doesn’t really understand such things? And if that is the case, does that immediately consign you to the long list of also-rans? As the aforementioned Reed from Black Marketing eloquently puts it: “LinkedIn is a 24/7 platform so ensure your profile looks outstanding at all times. LinkedIn never sleeps and neither does your profile.”
Echoing and expanding upon that notion, I spoke to talent management ‘guru’ Chris van Someren (Chief Executive of Ascentador) who offered a typically balanced view:
“For me, the key question is not LinkedIn vs a résumé (digital, physical or otherwise) but rather what and how these media communicate about us. Consistency, focus, a well considered point-of-view and accuracy should be the essentials to sharing our career histories no matter in what forum we are presenting them. Our careers need to be present on LinkedIn, of course, and perhaps in other media too (including a traditional résumé) but what we’re sharing still trumps where we’re sharing it”
So the two Chris’s (Van Someren & Reed) make the same valid point. Content is, was and always will be king. It isn’t sufficient to simply have what is effectively your CV as your LinkedIn profile. Your job history, skills, endorsements and recommendations are critically important but building your personal professional brand through your profile is also pivotal. A decent résumé will help you get seen by recruiters, but it doesn’t help you get a promotion. Finding a job is one thing but surely more effort should be placed on being better respected in your current job? That’s what my good friend Andy Goldman, Global Agency Partner Lead at LinkedIn has said on more than one occasion to me. LinkedIn Members engage with content more than 7x as often as they engage with job properties on the global platform these days:
“Being known as a thoughtful, innovative professional through your actions in the workplace is valuable currency for every professional. Publishing lets me share experiences with my teammates, and my clients. It’s a cornerstone of social selling which goes way beyond anything a resume could do for us”
And to conclude, a bold statement via a CNN interview with Christina Cacioppo from Dropbox who said:
“A résumé doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate. Love it or hate it, social media is your new résumé. Embrace it happily, accept it begrudgingly, outsource it – whatever it takes to keep from getting left behind”
Good news for LinkedIn. And trees. Bad news for paper manufacturers. And those guys who offer to help you write your résumé.
So what do you think? Are you using your LinkedIn profile as an alternative to a traditional résumé? Is the traditional CV still a more viable delivery method for a prospective employee? Or is a blend of the two a more realistic option? Let us know what you think…
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