Where Your Resume and Your LinkedIn Profile Should Differ

I’ve worked with dozens of professionals on improving their resumes, and LinkedIn profiles, during career transitions (and, at times, in advance of potential career transitions). And here’s one question I get all the time: how do I handle my self-presentation on LinkedIn and on resumes?

One of the most important parts of your professional self-presentation is coming up with a very clear, concise purpose statement – the summary of what you do and what kind of role you’re seeking. This is your “hook” to create interest and to show where you “fit” in the marketplace.


Below this summary statement, your resume and your LinkedIn profile will likely be pretty similar in content. But there are several different ways to approach your summary statement, depending on who the target audience is, and where you are in the transition process. Here are 4 situations requiring different approaches:

  1. You are applying for a specific job with a targeted company using a resume: In this case, you need to craft a summary/purpose statement that reflects the job role you’re pursuing. A generalized statement is not sufficient – your specific resume should be tailored and tweaked for that specific position. Example: Pursuing a Director-level leadership position in Operations for a growing healthcare software company.
  2. You are distributing a resume to friends/families/recruiters for a generalized role: Here, you should come up with a targeted, but flexible description that gives a slightly broader description of your sweet spot. Example: Seeking a leadership role in Operations in the Software industry.
  3. You are currently in career transition and actively seeking a new job via your LinkedIn profile: Your summary statement on LinkedIn should be a purpose statement similar to #1 above, but perhaps a bit “looser” since people may use different terms to describe similar roles. Example: Seeking a new leadership challenge with a software company seeking Operational expertise.
  4. You are currently employed, restless for a new challenge, and perhaps don’t have a specific role in mind, but also don’t want to tip your hand to your current employer: Your summary should be a positive description of your expertise. Example: Experienced Leader in Software Development Operations

Once you have the narrative and the wording of your resume down regarding all of your past roles, it’s a fairly simple thing to tweak the leading phrase – the summary – according to your current situation.

Anyway, this is how I’ve advised handling these various situations. How about you – any advice for others?

Also on the blog: How to Clear Away the Clouds from Your Message


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  1. Nice article – I think the specific examples you used were spot on!


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