1-2 pages is generally recommended for a resume. What about for LinkedIn? If it should be longer, what parts of a profile should be covered in more detail?
LinkedIn and resumes are very different things.
A resume is (or should be) a carefully targeted document customized to appeal to a specific job opening or organization. Of course it needs to get to the point and be concise. What you exclude in a resume is as important as what you include.
LinkedIn is far more fluid and versatile, people are surfing "you" based on connections or search terms. You have no idea who will look at it nor what they're looking for. The description you put for each past position should take that into account but that doesn't really imply anything about length. LinkedIn is mostly about your connections. As such, it is probably good to include all past positions on your profile.
First things first - when looking for recommendations, pick your authorities.
It makes little sense to ask LinkedIn advice from some stranger in the street: they may have an opinion but it's hardly a trustworthy source of information.
Look for the sources you can rely on. One that naturally comes to mind is, well, LinkedIn themselves. Note your interest here is to certain extent mutual: they generally want your profile to be successful since this leads to their service being more popular, more in demand.
LinkedIn recommendations on profiles are provided in their learning center:
- Profiles - LinkedIn Learning Center
Summarizing your professional experience and goals allows other users to quickly learn about your background and interests. This is your chance to provide an engaging 30-second description that highlights who you are and what you do— think of it as your personal elevator pitch.
The specialties field allows you to list your areas of expertise that will help potential employers and partners find you when they are looking for a specific skill-set or knowledge-base. Click here to start writing your summary.
Sorted in chronological order, your professional experience is displayed along with any recommendations you have received. Your position descriptions should briefly explain what the company does, and what your main responsibilities and accomplishments were. Use clear, succinct phrases here—and break them into digestible chunks so even on a quick-scan your accomplishments shine through.
While typically similar to what’s on your resume, you should be sensitive to financial numbers, launch plans, etc that your (previous) employer would consider confidential.
Another source of information they provide is in the blog posts tagged "profile":
- LinkedIn Blog » Profile
As of now, there are not much entries (12) there, so one interested can simply check them all.
Other blog tag worth looking at is LinkedIn Tips. There, look for so called Guest Authors - these will be your "secondary authorities" so to speak. Their presence in the blog indicates that LinkedIn considers them important and you can use them as another source of information.
- An example of a "LinkedIn-powered" source is Guy Kawasaki, see this blog entry:
LinkedIn Blog » Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn | Guy Kawasaki
...Improve your Google PageRank.
LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you.
To do this, create a public profile and select “Full View.” Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature...
Some may say that Kawasaki has more authority than all the LinkedIn blog authors together (and I'd agree:) but for consistency, I lay it out from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about him.
Another "natural source" of authoritative information is Stack Exchange.
I write natural since you decided to post here - this assumes you put certain authority into what you find here. Thing worth taking into account is that Stack Overflow has Careers service, with user profiles having much in common with LinkedIn.
Primary source of information on Careers are Meta Stack Overflow questions tagged 'careers'.
- An example question about profile: Careers2.0 hit rate
As of now, there are more than 1000 questions in this tag, including more than 300 related to profile (search results for 'profile' in the tag).
Those willing to apply information about Careers profiles at LinkedIn, need to account for certain differences in the structure and terminology. Probably the most straightforward way to "synchronize" your understanding is to import your LinkedIn profile into Careers to find which parts of profiles correspond.
Don't also forget remaining "natural" authority - doing your own research.
Simplest form of doing it is studying profiles of your connections. Learning how your colleagues write their profiles can be quite helpful. While studying profiles, try to find what reads good and what feels better to avoid.
The last but not the least, search the web. Top results for search phrases like LinkedIn profile howto, LinkedIn profile improvement etc often lead to bits of a good information.
Here are few examples to get you started:
I’m On LinkedIn – Now What??? » LinkedIn Profiles
Note imonlinkedinnowwhat.com consistently appears in top search results for several years now.
Create a detailed profile on LinkedIn, including employment (current and past), education, and industry. Review your resume and copy/paste the relevant information into your profile...
The Professional Summary section of your profile is a good way to highlight your experience. Select an Industry, because recruiters often use that field to search. Don't forget the Headline, because that's right at the top of the page when someone views your profile...
...a Strong, SEO-Friendly Summary
The "summary" section of your LinkedIn profile could be the biggest missed opportunity for the majority of job seekers, Alba says. While this section has a 2,000 character limit, Alba suggests packing as much about you and your abilities into it as possible.
In reality, the ability for people to find you will depend on LinkedIn's search engine linking your name to certain search keywords. So (staying with our repeated example), a project manager might want the term "project management" to appear a few times throughout the summary...
Finally (the least authoritative part of my answer), here are some of my own findings based on studying sources like mentioned above.
"Summary" part of my profile is targeted at those making a quick decision whether to proceed with more detailed background check or not - recruiters, hiring managers, potential interviewers. I consider this purpose almost the same as the one of brief resume (except that my brief resume also includes short overview of my experience and my contacts).
In my experience LinkedIn character limit (2000) makes a good fit to 1-page of text. My initial version summary was about of that size (you may see above it's as recommended) but after investing some effort in making it read better I managed to condense it to about 1200 characters.
I found an interesting explanation for delicate differences that may be there between summary sections in LinkedIn profile and resume. I feel like in my case I better don't bother with that but it is worth taking into account anyway:
- Don’t neglect this components of your LinkedIn profile; the Summary
...Some jobseekers, against the advice of Professional Résumé Writer Tracy Parish, use their summary as a dumping ground for their résumé’s summary. In other words, they copy and paste the summary from their résumé to their LinkedIn summary. Is this utter laziness or poor branding? Both...
One major difference between the two summaries is the number of characters allowed on LinkedIn and the number of characters your résumé’s summary should contain. You are allowed 2,000 characters for your LinkedIn summary. So use them! On a résumé this number of characters would take up three-quarters of a page, much too long for a two-page document. A proper number of characters for a résumé should not exceed 1,000 if written well...
Guess above means the summary section in my LinkedIn profile is less prominent as it ideally should be: as I wrote above, I condensed it to the size and tone that fits my resume. If so, so be it.
As for "Experience" section, it is targeted at readers willing to thoroughly check my background to take a serious decision like whether to interview or hire me. I imagine a reader saying like
OK so far you seem to be more or less suitable, but we need more details. Tell us everything about your professional career, projects, roles, skills and technologies. Tell us everything that may help us decide.
If some... I don't know, obscure skill or, say low importance project can make a tie-breaking decision in this thorough check, I would not want to miss / forget it. That's why I try to accurately capture details of every position in every slot of "Experience" section, even explanations for the job changes. I try to make it easy to read, understand and verify.
That makes "Experience" part of my profile quite lengthy, but as far as I can tell it is rather expected. As I already mentioned, this section is targeted at those making thorough background check - while "quick readers" focus on another section (Summary).
A "side effect" is - as opposed to Summary, I can not simply copy Experience section from LinkedIn straight into resume, even into the long one. This is nicely covered in an article written by Gerrit Hall:
- 6 Things on Your LinkedIn Profile That Shouldn’t Be on Your Resume
Many people think their LinkedIn profiles and their resumes are interchangeable, but you should not send your entire LinkedIn profile into a potential employer...
Sure, LinkedIn and your resume have a lot in common. They both include your professional summary, experience, skills, contact information, education and important links. But beyond that, there are plenty of things your LinkedIn profile has that need to stay clear of your resume...
...jobs you display on your resume should be relevant to the position you’re applying for, so show potential employers your pertinent accomplishments and results at each position in the bullet points. A resume should be much more focused towards a particular role than your profile. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your “master resume,” and then pull the most relevant information from it to build a resume for each position you apply for...
The same way you can have a short and a long version of your resume, or a resume and a full CV, you can use different online profiles to give a short overview or a full-view window to your professional life.
I tend to think it's best to give a full-detailed version, and that if they're not interested in looking in there for what they need, then it's their issue. Plus it makes you more marketable as you register on more people's radars, by way of having more surface for matching keywords.
Unfortunately LinkedIn doesn't provide the option to have a short view and long view, so if you really need this, I'd say host a short version on your personal site or Google+ page, or on StackOverflow Careers, and the long version on LinkedIn. Or the other way around. If you have a personal page, it's actually probably best to have it become the "focus point", and to have all other online profiles be short versions pointing to it. Makes it easier to maintain and avoids too much duplication.
There's one difference between resumes and LinkedIn profiles... With LinkedIn, you are waiting to be found. With resumes, you usually are the one sending it out.
What's this change?
- In LinkedIn, it's ok to list variations of the same technology multiple times. For example, on a resume, you might say, "Expert in creating Oracle tables" In Linked in, that might not turn up on a search for SQL. So you might say, "Expert in using SQL to create relational databases (RDBMS) tables using Oracle. Competent in Sybase too" The former is more concise and precise and better for a resume. The latter is better to catch LinkedIn searcheds.
What doesn't change?
Once a human reads it, you get 30 seconds or less to make an impression. Keep it somewhat concise, despite the keyword advice above. Eliminate everything unrelated to a job you might want.
Be professional. It's a job site, not Facebook.
Emphasize what you want read. If you're just out of school, emphasize that. If you're gone for a while, emphasize the most recent work experience.
You want an the experience section of your profile long enough for former coworkers to find you. Just listing companies and no details can make it hard for them to know if they have the right Casebash.
A few sentences will help the recruiters to find you with the search tools. If they see that you might be a potential employee they will contact you for the resume. The request for your full resume doesn't take very much effort on their part.
They are looking for you to respond, in fact they need you to respond. So they ask for the resume. Their search tells them what specialties you have, what city you live in, and if your experience has possibilities. But until you respond they have no idea how actively you are searching.
I am not sure they they will follow links in your profile. They want the search engine to find you, and having some detail in your profile helps them find you.
I also agree there is no way to equate pages of resume to size of LinkedIn profile.