Your Linkedin profile and your resume are each used differently by employers and used for different purposes.

However, I get asked all the time if making your Linkedin profile identical to your resume is a wise idea. Linkedin must think it is … since they have an app that automatically loads your profile data into a resume format.

Making your Linkedin profile identical to your resume can lose opportunities for you.

Since your resume is customizable for each individual recipient, but your Linkedin profile can’t be targeted for a single reader, you should use your Linkedin profile for two main job search goals:

  • Being found in recruiter searches
  • Pre-screening/Background checks of social media profiles

Your biggest problem is that these are two conflicting goals. Why would these goals conflict? Because employers use social media profiles in different ways, depending on why they’re looking at your profile.

It might shed some light on the problem, by looking at two different ways employers use social media profiles:

  1. Finding candidates: When recruiters search for candidates, they look for specific skills and subject matter expertise. That’s how they search their own databases, job boards, as well as social media. As a candidate, you’ll want to make your resume very specific and focused to be found more often.
  2. Background checks: HR departments use social media during the pre-screening and background check processes. While HR departments may look at what you’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter (make sure you’ve removed the drinking pics), they’re primarily looking at your profile when checking Linkedin. They’re making sure that your profile is consistent with your resume, because about 40% of resumes contain lies, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). A SHRM study found that 66% of employers search social media during the pre-screening process and over 90% before making a job offer.

As a candidate, you’ll want to recognize that you’ve changed your resume to fit your readers’ individual needs (if you’ve been a smart job seeker), but now you’ll have many different versions of your resume, each saying different things. You’ll want to make your Linkedin profile less focused than your resume, so that it works as an umbrella over all the resume versions you’ve sent. Your goal is to have a profile that provides social proof to many different resume versions.

There lies the conflict between your two goals. To maximize the effectiveness of your Linkedin profile being found in searches, you’ll want to make it extremely specific to one individual subject matter expertise and skill set.

But to pass employer pre-screens and background checks, your profile needs to be less focused, so that it can confirm what you’ve listed on many different resume versions.

Too specific, you won’t pass pre-screening or background checks. Too general and you won’t be found in recruiter searches.

There’s a happy medium in there somewhere – you’ll get there by first recognizing the different puzzle pieces recruiters and employers look for in different parts of their candidate search and screening efforts.