Can your LinkedIn profile replace your CV?

The answer to this question is No.

With more than 225 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is a great way to connect and be found, and many recruiters search LinkedIn to find relevant candidates. In fact it’s becoming one of the most useful places to look for a new job and be found so you can be forgiven for thinking that your LinkedIn profile could replace the need for a CV altogether. However there are a number of differences between a LinkedIn profile and a CV and we shall discuss them here.

A CV is a record of achievement, and as such it's a static backward-looking document. A CV should be continually updated, as it’s a story of ones life, but it’s a document showing what you have already accomplished.

A LinkedIn profile is different, it's an active living document, it’s current and it tells people what you are doing right now and should be regularly revised with status updates and as you receive and provide recommendations and interact with others. Your LinkedIn profile should be the most-viewed and most current version of your professional life.

Used properly, LinkedIn can be a very effective way of raising your profile and marketing yourself. It's less about a list of what we you done in the past and more focused on letting people know what you can do and how you can help them now.

In order to be effective however, your LinkedIn presence must be well-crafted and up-to-date. Even if you aren't sending people to your LinkedIn page, it is likely to be one of the first results for anyone who Googles you to find out about your professional qualifications and experience. That's why you need to ensure it's accurate, compelling, and current. Unlike a CV, a solid LinkedIn profile includes not only your self-proclaimed qualifications, but testimonials from colleagues, clients, and employers. The people who recommend you can be powerful advocates of you and your strengths and as the recommendations are linked back to a person, there is a much higher level of trust. It's not just you saying how great you are. Providing recommendations is also important. It gets you noticed on other peoples' pages and also demonstrates your judgement.

For all its merit, LinkedIn has limitations: you have to fit your career story into its structure, and you have only minimal control over formatting this is where a full CV comes into its own. A CV is a very personal document, everybody’s looks different, there isn’t a one size fits all approach.

So what we recommend that you do is make your LinkedIn profile and your CV work together – with LinkedIn being the introduction and your CV being the second part of a two-fold "selling" process of you, the job seeker. When you are actually applying for a job, a strong CV is still the gateway to an interview. See our further article on writing a perfect CV.

To use LinkedIn effectively • Write in the first person, not the third, include insight into your personality and character, not just what you have done, emphasise key words and accomplishments. • Include key words throughout your profile. • Aim for five to eight recommendations but get as many as you can, it's far more effective to have other people write a recommendation than you talk about how good you are. • Improve your visibility by asking questions, providing answers and joining relevant groups. • Join groups related to your background and desired goal so you can identify relevant jobs. • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your CV and email signature to encourage people to find out more about you.