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 brand-reinforcing content in your profile and elsewhere on LinkedIn.
You work hard on this content to make it keyword-rich and to support your candidacy, because the better this content 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 noted that, because of the sheer number of LinkedIn members (more than 500 million at the time) 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
Highly touted by LinkedIn, this sounds like a helpful feature, until you look a little closer and anticipate how some unethical people may abuse it.
I first learned about all this in an article by Donna Svei of Avid Careerist in 2017, when Resume Assistant first rolled out.
LinkedIn Help says:
“Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word helps you to create effective resumes by providing you content suggestions to include in your resume. Based on the role and industry you’re interested in, you’ll receive suggestions regarding work experience summary, skills, and also other relevant content available in LinkedIn.
When they first rolled out Resume Assistant, the same LinkedIn Help page also disclosed:
“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.”
Even though LinkedIn no longer makes it clear, Resume Assistant still works this way. It aggregates vast amounts of content from the profiles of people who have not opted out of this feature. If you don’t opt out, you’re in the program by default. Your profile content will be dumped into the mix, along with everyone else’s.
Here’s where the sticky part comes in.
I wrote a post, 7 Reasons NOT to Copy Someone Else’s LinkedIn Profile, which speaks to what happens to YOUR brand, reputation and credibility when someone “uses” the content in your profile.
See where I’m going here?
With Resume Assistant, LinkedIn Just Made Plagiarism a Whole Lot Easier
Resume Assistant is a boon 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 may all get shut out. They won’t know who originated the content. Nobody wins.
Think about all the people who have labored over their LinkedIn profile content to get it just right – 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?
How to Get Out of Resume Assistant
If you’re concerned about this situation, LinkedIn offers a way for you to opt-out.
Here’s how to turn off this feature, as of this writing. Check the LinkedIn Help page noted above, if the following doesn’t work:
- Click on “Settings & Privacy” in the top-of-profile navigation menu under “Me”
- Scroll down to “Other applications”
- Click on “Microsoft Word”
- Toggle to “No” to NOT allow Microsoft Word to display your work experience descriptions from your profile to Resume Assistant
As soon as I found out about Resume Assistant, I turned it off in my account.