The days of the traditional one-page resume may be numbered, but it's still not quite time to ditch those well-crafted, battle-tested documents. Recruiters and career development consultants say the resume is not dead; however, the LinkedIn profile has surpassed it in terms of importance to modern job seekers.
For many professionals, resumes are static documents that are dusted off and updated only when they begin a new job hunt. LinkedIn profiles are dynamic and always changing.
"LinkedIn's strengths also are its weaknesses," according to Emily Gordon, strategic director of recruitment firm Seven Step RPO.
Many users have trouble setting up and maintaining up-to-date profiles. "You have to keep [your profile] updated, relevant and clean," Gordon says. "If you do this, and have a strong network, it will increase credibility and your chances in securing an interview."
Resumes also capture less personality than LinkedIn profiles, because "they are often more of an exercise in grammatical and formatting skills versus true content," Gordon says. "However, this allows recruiters to see if a candidate has a strong attention to detail and doesn't make small, but important mistakes like typos."
LinkedIn Profiles, Resumes Are Different Tools for Different Goals
Gordon says the goal of the traditional resume is different than that of a LinkedIn profile. "The goal of a resume is to secure a more in-depth conversation with the candidate and to create a framework for the interview," she says. "The initial screening process is often enhanced by a LinkedIn profile if a candidate has set it up and maintained it in the right way. What you do with each is completely different, and you need to be smart with how you maintain your resume and LinkedIn profile."
Though LinkedIn hasn't killed the resume, according to Gordon, it has directly influenced its evolution. For example, LinkedIn has made certain aspects of the resume irrelevant, including references, because LinkedIn puts such a high priority on personalized recommendations and connections.
"LinkedIn goes right to the long-form resume," says Rick Gillis, a professional career consultant, trainer and author. (Gillis also contributes to CIO.com's ICN blogs.)
Using a lengthy, detailed LinkedIn profile instead of a more concise, attention-grabbing resume can do more harm than good. "The longer and the more detailed a resume, the more likely I'm able to find a reason not to accept you or reject you out of hand," says Gillis.
LinkedIn Slowly Winning the War
When Gillis last asked a forum of peers for their opinions of LinkedIn profiles versus resumes, about 18 months ago, the response was evenly split between those who had fully abandoned resumes and those who were at least considering the move.
"It's going to fundamentally come down to the size of the organization," he says. "The larger the company, the more they need [resumes]."
Gordon and Gillis agree that it's important for every professional to polish, maintain and update their LinkedIn profiles, because colleagues, recruiters and hiring managers look at LinkedIn to better determine a person's progression and learn about their areas of expertise.
"It's incredibly important to be mindful of the fact that candidates can be more detailed on LinkedIn instead of a resume," Gordon says. "You do not want to distract from the impact of the work you do [or] have done and the things that make you the obvious choice for the role."
The Future of LinkedIn, Resumes
Gillis thinks LinkedIn's next move might be a more dramatic shift into human resources. "I think they could become the repository of people's personnel records, depending on how big and how secure the cloud becomes."
Until that happens, though, LinkedIn profiles and resumes will continue to fulfill different needs and maintain their symbiotic relationship -- for better or for worse.
"Unless LinkedIn comes up with the most amazing platform where basically all of your questions can be answered -- and don't think they won't, I think they can -- you're going to have a need for a paper resume," Gillis says.
"When electric guitars came in, everybody said that's the death of the acoustic guitar," Gillis says. "[But] there's a need for both, and there always will be."