Tempted to copy another resume or LinkedIn Profile?
It’s an understandable impulse. Most people aren’t trained to write about themselves and fear that they’re doing it wrong.
However, when you copy a resume or a LinkedIn Profile, you’re probably unaware of the brand message and strategy used in the first place.
It’s VERY likely that the format, writing style, and tone won’t match your personality. (It’s also likely you’ll be found out. Plagiarism is wrong on many levels.)
Here are 5 additional, compelling reasons to avoid copying a LinkedIn Profile or resume, no matter how much you believe it matches YOUR work:
1 – You can easily unravel the original brand strategy – to your detriment.
So… you think you have the same career path and can therefore just “tweak” a word or two?
Not so fast.
For your LinkedIn Profile or resume to be effective, a strategy should be created based on YOUR desired goal and potential screen-out factors (items that could put off a recruiter, such as work history, age, skills, etc.). This strategy helps you arrange your presentation according to YOUR value proposition.
Compare your career path and achievements to others in your industry. Assess whether your background has any weakness or strengths others don’t possess, such as multiple degrees or specific technical acumen.
Only THEN can you be 100% sure YOUR credentials and trajectory are best represented by material customized for a colleague.
2 – You could weaken your own brand message.
Have you considered copying a resume summary or LinkedIn About section that looks like this?
“Highly accomplished and results-driven, with XX years of professional experience… “
Any list of overused resume words will tell you these descriptors are trite (why WOULDN’T you be results-driven?). Resist the temptation to copy a Summary that could apply to anyone.
Run a Google search on overused words in LinkedIn Profiles or on resumes (you’ll recognize many of them), and don’t use them more than once.
You’re better off taking the time to assess your own strengths first, then writing a summary that distinguishes YOU as an individual.
3 – You might develop and overuse favorite phrases.
If you love the sentences or phrases you see in another resume or LinkedIn Profile, use them sparingly.
Write to YOUR strengths, while calling out details that apply only to YOUR career. Otherwise, your repeated words can lose their meaning. There’s only so many times you can say you’ve “spearheaded,” “developed,” or “accomplished” a task. Try to avoid falling in love with fancy words, because they may not apply to all of your accomplishments.
Instead of repeating your favorite words, use a thesaurus or list of power verbs to jazz up your writing, as described in Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile Need Action Words!
Don’t take the easy way out; look for unique ways to describe each of your accomplishments.
4 – Your changes could mess up formatting or readability.
Depending on how closely you copy a resume, your changes could throw an entire page into disarray, especially when trying to figure out how to adjust headings or change paragraph sizes. (Yes, I’ve received many “copied” resumes that look like a jumble of wrongly indented paragraphs, fonts, colors, and headings.)
Most professionally designed resumes use specific fonts for their readability on different platforms. If you change it or shrink it below 11 points, it could be difficult to interpret, especially on a mobile device.
5 – There won’t be any way to update your “work” professionally.
Your personal work style and energy will rarely (if ever) show up in someone else’s resume or LinkedIn Profile. So, you’re already operating at a severe brand disadvantage before even trying to have someone update these materials for you.
Many professional writers will insist on creating your message from scratch, especially if they can tell that you started with someone else’s strategy, brand message, tone, and presentation.
In summary, you can certainly TRY to adopt a professionally written resume or LinkedIn content as your own, but the pitfalls that can trip you up along the way can actually hurt your job search results.
You’re better off writing about your OWN career history, achievements, and value to employers — beginning to end.