Personal branding is all about differentiating the unique value you offer the employers you’re targeting.
If you want to make headway using LinkedIn to promote your personal brand and value, you create plenty of content to reinforce your brand and what you have to offer.
You work hard on this content to make it keyword-rich and to support your candidacy, because the better your LinkedIn profile and any other content you develop on the site (updates, Pulse articles, commenting, etc.) pinpoints what makes you the best hiring choice for your target employers, the quicker you’re likely to land a great-fit job.
Now, stay with me here, as we get into Microsoft, LinkedIn and Resume Assistant.
In mid-2016 Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion.
According to Grant Feller, in a Forbes article written at the time,
“Microsoft bought something more precious than what some patronizingly call a social network for job-seekers. Microsoft has just bought one of the world’s most influential, specialised, highly read, constantly-updated (and occasionally annoying) digital media companies.”
He notes that, because of the sheer number of LinkedIn members (more than 500 million now) with profiles, writing Pulse articles and using other content-building tools, the big benefit to Microsoft is all the content they now have access to, including company stats, employment history, skills, thought leadership, subject matter expertise, etc.
This benefits Microsoft in 2 ways, according to Feller:
“First, as a content-publishing platform in which key executives can expand networks, influence and opportunities. And, second, as a relationship management tool, the content of which Microsoft can use for cross-marketing purposes. It will know customers better than ever.”
And then came LinkedIn’s Resume Assistant in November 2017.
Sounds like a helpful feature, until you look a little closer and anticipate how some unethical people may abuse it.
First, many thanks to Donna Svei of Avid Careerist for bringing forward the Resume Assistant dilemma.
LinkedIn Help touts:
“Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word helps get your creative juices flowing by showing personalized insights from LinkedIn, based on the desired role you’re interested in. Resume Assistant includes examples of suggested skills and work experience summaries to help you get your next job and connect to economic opportunity.
The work experience examples come from public profiles on LinkedIn, and they’re based on the roles and industries that you filter for in Resume Assistant, so you get the inspiration you need to create a great resume.”
In an article on the LinkedIn Blog, Kylan Nieh describes:
“After you select your desired role and industry, Resume Assistant will pull LinkedIn insights from millions of member profiles so you can see diverse examples of how professionals in that role describe their work.”
Here’s where the sticky part comes in.
I recently wrote a post, 7 Reasons NOT to Copy Someone Else’s LinkedIn Profile, which speaks to what happens to YOUR brand when someone “uses” the content in your profile. You’ve done nothing but create solid content for your profile.
See where I’m going here?
With Resume Assistant, LinkedIn just made plagiarism a whole lot easier for those people who are too lazy to create their own brand-reinforcing content and have no problem swiping others’ content.
As Svei says, this plagiarism will
“make it harder for people to differentiate themselves in their personal marketing documents.”
For instance, let’s say a whole slew of people using Resume Assistant are impressed with your profile, and swipe chunks of it for their own profiles.
Now, many LinkedIn profiles with duplicate content, originated by you, are out there. These copycats are probably competitors of yours in the job market, since similar skills and other qualifying information apply to all of you.
What do you suppose happens when recruiters and hiring managers, who are assessing these profiles, notice the same content for several candidates they’re considering for the same job? You’ll all look like thieves, and you’ll all get shut out. They won’t know who originated the content. Nobody wins.
I think of all the people who have labored over their LinkedIn profile content to get it just right in differentiating the unique value they offer employers they want to work for – often investing in the services of a professional writer.
Using Resume Assistant, people who have no qualms about stealing content, won’t have to jump all around the site looking for comparable profiles. Similar job seekers profiles will come right to them.
And you can bet these people will not just be stealing keywords and phrase, and hard skills. They’ll be swiping sentences that highlight your personal brand, and personality. Why wouldn’t they, if they think it sounds enough like them?
If you’re concerned about this situation, LinkedIn offers a way for you to opt out your profile from Resume Assistant.
[Please note, this is how the fix works as of this writing. Things can, and often do, change fast on LinkedIn. Check the LinkedIn Help page noted above, if the following doesn’t work.]
- Go to the drop-down menu under “Me” at the top of your profile.
- Click on “Settings & Privacy”.
- Click on “Privacy” in the menu at the top.
- Scroll down to “Data privacy and advertising”.
- Click on “Microsoft Word”.
- Check “No”, to keep Microsoft from displaying work experience descriptions from your profile to users of Resume Assistant.
As soon as I read Donna’s article, I did it myself. You really should do this, too. Won’t take but a minute to do.
UPDATE – February 2018
A day or two after I first published this post, Donna let me know that LinkedIn took down the “Microsoft Word” option I noted above. But they reinstated it a day or two after that. This opt-out may or may not be available when you read this post.