I came across a horrifying thread at Hacker News: Can I use a LinkedIn profile instead of resume for my job applications? It’s a reasonable question, and the answer is “No, you cannot use a LinkedIn profile instead of a résumé.” If the job ad asks for a résumé, then you give them a résumé. If they want the résumé in Word format, you give them the résumé in Word format. What the hiring company asks for, you give them.
What makes me shake my head in dismay is the number of people who replied to say “Oh, yeah, just give ‘em a LinkedIn URL instead, they can forward that around.” The people who act this way are likely to not get interviews. These people who want to modify the process, let’s call them the IKBs, for “I Know Better.” Here are some things they need to learn.
First, if the company has gone through the trouble of writing an ad, they probably have a pretty good idea of what they want as a hiring process. If the people doing the hiring didn’t think it was important what got sent in, then they wouldn’t have specified. But they did, so it does. The IKBs don’t just get to decide from their easy chairs that they know a better way, at least not if they want a job.
Second, the IKBs aren’t somehow smarter than the people doing the hiring. Comments in the Hacker News thread include self-delusional drivel like “people cling to tradition for irrational reasons.” This is the way the IKBs say “I know better than others how they should run their business.” They are fooling themselves. It sounds good when you tell yourself that, but the hiring company will simply ignore you.
Third, LinkedIn is not a substitute for a résumé, because LinkedIn’s format might not be the best way to present the story of you. There is precious little space for the details and stories that make your résumé compelling to the reader. Further, every résumé you send out must be tailored to the job for which you’re applying. You cannot customize your LinkedIn profile for each company. Maybe when applying to one company, you emphasize the work you’ve done in Oracle, and to another it’s all about the Linux sysadmin, depending on what the company wants.
Some posters on the thread mentioned that LinkedIn has a “résumé builder.” All that does is reformat the fields already in your LinkedIn profile into various different résumé formats. However, it doesn’t take into account the hard thinking and preparation that it takes to create a compelling résumé. Don’t get suckered into it. These résumé building websites are worse than worthless because they pretend that a good résumé is about the formatting. It’s not.
Most of all, what makes me weep for the IKBs is that they think they’ve found an easy way to get a job. Just fill in a few blanks, send off an email, and the hiring managers will fall over themselves to snap up the candidate. It doesn’t work that way. Finding a job, especially one that you’re going to want to go to every day, takes hard work. If you think that you’ve got an easy time firing off résumés to companies, then you’re not trying hard enough.
Go ahead and be an IKB. Take the easy way to writing a résumé. Just don’t expect any interviews. Those interviews will go to the candidates who have applied themselves and done the hard work necessary to present themselves in the best possible light to the company.