Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
I haven't done a job search in years, and now all I seem to see on TV, hear on the radio or read online is that having a social media profile is as important or more important than having a resume. Some even say you don't need a resume anymore, that it's a thing of the past. I'm out of work and my unemployment benefits are exhausted, so I need to spend every possible moment job hunting. I don't want to waste time building both a resume and a social media profile when I might only need one. What's your take on which is more important?
This is a good question that has been asked and argued over since 2003, when LinkedIn officially launched the first professionally oriented social media site.
LinkedIn gave recruiters a superior and unique new source for finding candidates. "Like dunking for apples in a barrel," a CIO headhunter once laughed, because on LinkedIn, job hunters can make themselves visible to a much greater audience of HR recruiters, headhunters and peers with whom to network.
LinkedIn is the largest and most highly trafficked job site in the U.S., with over 700 million users. It is available in more than 200 countries and territories. So why not just create a profile on LinkedIn for recruiters to find and respond to job postings, and forget resumes and other job-hunting approaches altogether?
A Social Media Profile's Role in a Job Search
A good social media profile, with proper focus on an achievable target job, should be part of the foundation of any job search. It increases your visibility with headhunters and corporate recruiters, not to mention possible networking connections all over the world.
But while it is a significant part of a balanced and comprehensive job search strategy, having a strong social media profile is not the only way to get interviews and offers.
Who Gets Discovered and Recruited for Interviews?
The keywords in your profile make it pop up in recruiters' searches, which means your profile needs to be focused on a job for which you can make a good, readable argument. (There are a lot of users on LinkedIn, so it's important that your profile is discoverable and well-written.)
Another way to be found on LinkedIn is by building a network of connections who are in your profession and can help in your job search. It's rather like having a fishing pole with a baited hook in the water—you might get a bite, but much depends on the bait and timing.
In other words, using LinkedIn is a passive job-search tactic, but the job searches that end quickly include both passive and active job-search tactics. So is a social media profile or a resume more important? Obviously, a profile on LinkedIn is a smart move, but not the only move. You need a resume for your most powerful active job search.
The Resume's Role in a Job Search
Crafting a targeted resume is time well-spent. You will gain a much clearer view of the job you're pursuing and why you're qualified for that job, and a greatly increased understanding of all the questions you'll face at job interviews.
Every time you upload your resume into a resume database, it becomes another baited hook in the water. When it is customized to a specific job, which it must to be most effective, it makes you much more visible to recruiters who are looking for professionals like you on social media or resume sites.
Your resume and social media profile must tell the same story; the best, most focused and data-dense profiles are invariably based on a carefully targeted and well-written resume. Adding your resume to your social media profile, something LinkedIn encourages, will increase the discoverability of your profile and improve its performance in other resume banks.
So the answer to the question you posed, as you have probably already recognized, is that you need both a social media profile and a resume to land your next job.
Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.