Would someone who decides to search for you on LinkedIn, having read your CV, be able to quickly identify your profile from the search results? Once they have clicked through, would they be clear and confident that the profile relates to one and the same person presented by the CV? Not sure? Log out of your LinkedIn account and conduct a search for your name, as presented on your CV.

If the above rings true, I’d recommend that you address the issue. Here’s why.

One of the very first things I will do when writing someone’s CV is to search for them on LinkedIn. I do this with the hope that I will uncover more about that person’s career history and professional focus, bringing their story to life. I’m not the only one applying this tactic. In 2014, Jobvite’s survey found that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a means to source and vet potential candidates. If they didn’t find you on LinkedIn in the first place, the person looking at your CV will no doubt search for you on LinkedIn, using your presence to verify your career history and discover more about your potential fit.

Unfortunately, the candidate in question isn’t always easily identifiable in the initial search results, when they could and should be. I often resort to clicking through to countless profiles, my eyes straining to see if one of those returned is the one I’m looking for. Personally, I’m happy to persevere to find my client’s profile, but recruiters work for their clients, not jobseekers, and the time-pressured task of sourcing the right candidate won’t allow them the same approach.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If your profile uses a clear LinkedIn headline, and is complemented with an accurate industry description, then it should be quick and easy for others to identify and select your profile.

Another problem is that, having deduced which is the right profile, the information presented within hardly ever completely tallies with that on the person’s CV. Although there should be some differences between your CV and LinkedIn profile, the differences I see most often are not the ones I would recommend. Your LinkedIn profile offers the opportunity to add depth to your career history – through a personalised and detailed 2000-character summary, interactive multi-media elements, projects, and voluntary roles – aspects that you may have been unable to include on your CV. These elements offer a great opportunity for candidates to stand out on LinkedIn, supporting and advancing their case for employment. Instead, the differences I most often see are the ones that confuse the hell out of me, forcing me to ask myself if I am really looking at the right candidate.

The main culprit? Inconsistency in career timelines. As I scan between a CV and the corresponding LinkedIn profile, I’ll often notice the dates are completely different, making it difficult to understand the career timeline. However, an inconsistent career timeline is not the only distraction. Here are some of the differences, small and large, that frequently crop up:

differences in the months and years the individual started and finished their employment with a particular company;

omissions of roles included on the CV;

addition of roles NOT included on the CV;

a headline that conveys a different career specialism or target (no headline is even worse!); or

a summary section that conveys a different career specialism or target (again, no summary is even worse).

It may seem like I’m being pernickety but, believe me, these things have to tally between your CV and LinkedIn profile. If not, it’s very confusing for the person trying to marry the two. I suspect that these differences occur because the individual hasn’t created their CV and LinkedIn profile at one and the same time. In reality, they may not even have had their CV to hand when populating their LinkedIn profile, and never got round to making sure the content was aligned.

There may not seem much harm in guestimating dates and so on when filling out your LinkedIn profile for the first time but, believe me, for someone looking at your CV and LinkedIn side by side, it can be a confusing experience. More than just being confused, if the viewer is assessing your suitability for a role, they may come to some incorrect and unwelcome conclusions about you. Here’s a small list:

You are slapdash. Not taking the time to present a consistent professional image could signify you are not detail-focused. Attention to detail is a desirable trait for jobseekers, so this could definitely count against you.

You don’t care or are not serious about your job search. Serious candidates will ensure that their CV and LinkedIn profile are aligned.

You don’t understand LinkedIn. Not using LinkedIn to its full advantage may indicate that you aren’t particularly tech-savvy – that you don’t comprehend the platform’s functionality or how to use it.

These unwanted conclusions are avoidable. Head them off at the pass by taking the time to align your CV and LinkedIn profile today.   If you are keen to optimise your LinkedIn profile, and use the platform to your advantage, then why not order LinkedIn Explained?

This easy-to-follow eBook guide shares proven strategies and tips to help you build a strong presence on LinkedIn, supporting your professional credibility and career goals.

Whether you intend to use LinkedIn to search for a new job, would like offers to come to you, or would like to build and maintain your network, this book will help. Buy now for $14 (about £9 plus VAT), and pay in the currency of your choice. Immediately after your payment has been approved, you will be provided with a link to download this report in PDF format.

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire is a professional CV writer at Giraffe CVs. She has 15 years of experience gained delivering interview-winning CVs and cover letters for professionals at all levels, helping individuals to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive job market.
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire