Your LinkedIn profile should differ from your resume - they don’t serve the same purpose! Below, I’ll discuss why LinkedIn profiles are different from resumes, and I’ll highlight four key ways they differ from one another.
By understanding the purpose of the resume and the profile, you’ll gain a much stronger grasp over the product manager recruitment process. Let’s dive in.
Why Are LinkedIn Profiles Different from Resumes?
LinkedIn profiles and resumes serve very different purposes in your product management recruiting process.
LinkedIn profiles are public whereas resumes are private. What do I mean by that?
By default, your LinkedIn profile is visible to anyone who’s on LinkedIn - and, sometimes your profile is even visible to people who aren’t on LinkedIn. People can find your LinkedIn profile through both LinkedIn search and Google search.
On the other hand, no one can get access to your resume unless you first send it to them. After all, a resume is typically a PDF file that sits on your computer.
So, that means that your LinkedIn profile naturally serves a different role than your resume.
Think of your profile as a hook - it’s meant to attract someone’s attention and to get them to ask for your resume. A profile itself is not enough to secure a product manager interview, however. The recruiter is always going to need your resume before you can kick off the interview process.
In other words, your resume is what actually determines whether you’ll move forward to the interview stage.
If you’re forced to choose, focus on cleaning up your resume first, because that determines whether you can get started in the interview process.
But once your resume is in a good place, you need to invest time into your LinkedIn profile. Having a powerful LinkedIn profile opens doors to new opportunities that you weren’t even aware of.
Now, let’s discuss the four key differences between LinkedIn profiles and resumes.
How Do LinkedIn Profiles Differ from Resumes?
Because LinkedIn profiles are public and resumes are private, you have to keep the following four differences in mind:
- Active vs. passive access
- Hidden vs. visible to your current employer
- Targeted vs. broad exposure
- Keywords for applicant tracking systems (ATS) vs. search engine optimization (SEO)
Active vs. passive access
The first difference is that LinkedIn profiles enable passive access. You don’t have to send your LinkedIn profile for others to be able to view it. That means that with a solid enough LinkedIn profile, you’ll have recruiters coming to you proactively.
I’ve personally witnessed dozens of scenarios where product managers weren’t actively looking for jobs - in other words, they weren’t actively sending out resumes to different companies. But, because their LinkedIn profile was up-to-date, companies reached out to them. They wound up finding their dream job at their dream company, not because they were actively looking, but because they maintained their LinkedIn profiles.
Therefore, to increase the chances that a dream employer will find you, you have to put yourself out there on LinkedIn. If your accomplishments are only accessible through your resume, then companies won’t know about you unless you reach out first. Many times, we don’t know what opportunities are out there in the world, so it’ll serve you well to have an optimized and up-to-date LinkedIn profile as a product manager!
Visibility to your employer
The second difference is that LinkedIn profiles are visible to your current employer. Keep in mind that your direct manager, your direct reports, and all of your colleagues can see your LinkedIn profile. Unlike resumes, you don’t have full control over who can see what you’re saying.
That means that when you’re crafting your LinkedIn profile, you need to write it as though your direct manager is reading every word that you’ve put up. Don’t write anything that they would disagree with, and don’t share any information that they would be uncomfortable with you sharing.
Typically, company metrics and customers are under NDA (non-disclosure agreements). Do not violate your NDA - it could cause your current employer to fire you.
If you’re looking to share an accomplishment that relates to a customer, don’t share the customer name. Rather, provide their attributes, e.g. “Fortune 500 accounting firm with $XX million in annual revenue.”
If you want to share the quantitative impact that you’ve made, give your reader a sense of your impact without disclosing the actual number. For example, you could say “increased revenues by > 2% within 6 months” or “saved tens of thousands of dollars each release cycle.” While it may feel somewhat fuzzy, it won’t make a significant difference in your profile. After all, a product management recruiter isn’t going to pick one candidate over the other solely due to a small difference in impact metrics.
While the above advice also applies to resumes, it applies especially strongly to LinkedIn profiles because LinkedIn profiles are publicly accessible. If you’re currently employed, your primary obligation is to your current employer - do not violate that obligation.
Targeted vs. broad exposure
The third difference is that resumes are targeted, whereas LinkedIn profiles are broadly accessible. In other words, every resume can and should be a one-off; you should customize your resume for every single employer you apply to.
But, you only have one LinkedIn profile - you don’t get to change it based on who’s viewing it. In other words, a recruiter from Sephora will see the same thing that a recruiter from McDonald’s will see, and that’ll be the same that a recruiter from Dropbox will see.
So, decide on which segment of employers you'd like to attract, and focus your profile on that. If you’re interested in working in fintech, then your profile should reflect your fintech accomplishments and interests. If you’re interested in working in B2C, focus on A/B testing and on mass market adoption.
Your LinkedIn profile cannot and should not attempt to attract all kinds of companies. Product managers are also products, and therefore we need to determine our own product/market fit. You’re doing yourself a disservice if your LinkedIn profile isn’t targeting a specific segment of employers.
The fourth difference is that resumes are screened through applicant tracking systems, whereas LinkedIn profiles are filtered by search engines. Search matters more on profiles than on resumes, so identify which keywords you want to be searched for, and make sure to weave those into your profile.
For example, say you want to be noticed for being a B2B product manager. If that’s the case, you need to make sure that “B2B product manager” appears in your LinkedIn profile multiple times. If you go to Google right now and search for “b2b product manager linkedin”, you can see who’s ranking highly for those terms. If a recruiter types in that exact query on Google, those are the candidates who are going to have the most attention first.
To recap - LinkedIn profiles are public and resumes are private. That means that LinkedIn profiles are passive recruiting tools that are visible to your current employer, are broadly accessible and non-customizable, and are filtered by search engines.
Your LinkedIn profile serves a different purpose vs. your resume. Your profile is a publicly accessible showcase of your accomplishments and skills. It opens doors for you that you didn’t even realize existed.
Spend time investing in your LinkedIn profile as a product manager, and allocate a couple of hours every quarter to keep it up to date. You never know when the next opportunity might knock on your door.
Want to learn more about the differences between resumes and LinkedIn profiles? Chat with other product managers around the world in our PMHQ Community!
Clement Kao is Co-Founder of Product Manager HQ. He was previously a Principal Product Manager at Blend, an enterprise technology company that is inventing a simpler and more transparent consumer lending experience while ensuring broader access for all types of borrowers.