Does LinkedIn Make the Executive Resume Obsolete?

by Meg Guiseppi on June 2, 2014


With the popularity of LinkedIn and the indisputable necessity of having a presence there, many people claim that the resume is dead, or dying . . . that it’s no longer needed, or valuable . . . that a robust, fully populated LinkedIn profile is, in fact, the new resume.

Is the executive resume obsolete?

After all, people searching for viable candidates like you will likely see your LinkedIn profile before they ever reach out to you and request your resume.

Social recruiting has become the norm for executive recruiters. They spend a significant part of their days searching online for candidates, and a significant part of that time specifically on LinkedIn. The cost of social recruiting is minimal (compared to posting on job boards) and opens them to a much larger pool of potential candidates.

So, if you have a strong online presence, with a LinkedIn profile (and other online profiles, personal website, web resume, social media activity, etc.), why do you need a resume at all?

First of all, lose the mindset that LinkedIn is an online resume. If it ever was, it’s not any more. There’s a lot more going on at LinkedIn – social branding, networking, curating content, etc. – than the ability to publish your career history online.

For another thing, you can only have one LinkedIn profile, but you can (and should) have several resumes, customized for each of the employers you’re targeting.

A LinkedIn profile needs to be somewhat more generic, like a “kitchen sink” resume, so it will appeal to a wider audience than just one employer. Obviously, you can’t customize your LinkedIn profile for each target company, but you can indicate your job-type and industry preference.

Your resume shines when you’re actively networking your way into the companies you’re targeting. To hit home with each person reading it, you’ll customize your resume (as much as possible) for each target company, and send it to select people at, or associated with, each company. The world will not be privy to your resume, as it will your LinkedIn profile.

Four other reasons a LinkedIn profile alone won’t do . . . you still need a resume:

  • If you’re in confidential job search, your LinkedIn profile may need to be tamed down so much that it doesn’t position you as a good-fit hire.
  • There may be certain confidential information about your current and previous employers that you can’t put online, but you can put in the resume you’ll privately send to select people.
  • During the interview process, you’ll need to bring several hard copies of your resume (along with other relevant printed collaterals) to pass out to everyone involved.
  • Human Resources, at each target company, is going to request a copy of your resume for their database.

And consider this.

The old fashioned strategy of mailing a hard copy of your resume with covering letter is a powerful NEW differentiating tactic to capture attention and perhaps an interview, because so few people do it any more.

Try snail mailing your resume and customized cover letter, sending it flat, unfolded in a 9 x 12 envelope. The larger envelope will be noticed more than standard #10 envelopes, and probably will be opened first.

So don’t give up on that paper/digital resume yet . . . or maybe ever.

The key, as always, for an interview-generating resume, is to:

More Information about Executive Resumes and LinkedIn

Does Your Executive Resume Position You as the Best Hiring Choice?

7 Deadly Sins of Executive Resume Writing

The New 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet

When Was the Last Time You Updated Your LinkedIn Profile?

Personal Branding, Resume or Job Search Targeting: Which Comes First?

Your Personal Brand Online and the LinkedIn Privacy Dilemma

photo by jstonkatoy


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi June 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

Aw gee, Kathy, aren’t you kind! Thanks for your lovely comment.

2 Kathy Aguiar June 17, 2014 at 5:59 am

I like your strategies Meg. They work!

3 Meg Guiseppi June 4, 2014 at 6:39 am

Thanks for your kind comment, Beau. Yes, both a resume and LinkedIn profile help people differentiate their unique value to the companies and organizations they’re targeting.

4 Beau June 3, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Great article! I agree with you 100%, LinkedIn is a great tool as a general overview of your professional life but resume’s will still be needed. Now, more than ever, its a way to differentiate oneself from the competition. Thanks for the content.

5 Meg Guiseppi June 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Eric, you make an important point. I should have clarified. I always advise job seekers to do what they can to circumvent HR, and therefore (hopefully) companies’ ATS. If they’ve done their targeting work, they should have identified people at their target companies to network with and work their way towards hiring decision makers, to whom they can send their resume (perhaps via snail mail, as I suggest in the post) and make a case for hiring them.

You’re right. If they don’t follow directions when responding to online job postings (one of the least successful ways to land a job), they will probably be penalized, or dismissed, or ignored.

More on networking your way into companies here:

Use Job Boards for Research … Not to Find Jobs —

Executive Job Search: Research Your Target Employers —

Many thanks for your valuable comment!

6 Eric June 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Meg, excellent suggestion re: the hard copy resume! Talk about a way to stand out — that’ll definitely do the trick.

One possible complication: If the potential employer has the job opening online, and has asked for resumes to be submitted via online, then the job applicant is demonstrating an inability to follow simple directions. While he/she would score bonus points for ingenuity, I’d have to mark them down for not following instructions. I know several managers who would throw it away without hesitation because they’re not inclined to re-type it for inclusion in the ATS.

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