Tempted to copy someone’s else’s resume or LinkedIn Profile?
It’s an understandable impulse. Most people aren’t trained to write about themselves and struggle to add the right content.
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.)
Here are 6 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 a LinkedIn Profile or resume to be effective, a strategy should be created based on the 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 the message.
Here’s what one candidate did with a power summary describing market-leading achievements (including a 70% rise in revenue over 2 years, a totally restructured team and profitable turnaround effort, plus a total obliteration of the competition):
“Dedicated and hard working professional with over 12 years of experience in the food service sales and marketing industry. Successful experience in strategic planning, analysis of results, and international media relations.”
Any list of overused resume words will tell you that “hard-working” or “successful experience” are both no-brainers and would not be taken seriously by employers… plus, they’re a dead giveaway that the writer isn’t sure of his specific strengths.
The idea is to STRENGTHEN your business case for being hired… noting unique and desirable traits and successes throughout your career marketing content.
3 – You might overuse favorite phrases.
There’s only so many times you can say you’ve “spearheaded,” “developed,” or “accomplished” specific wins.
Repeated words lose their meaning.
Instead of describing all your achievements as “successful,” use a thesaurus or list of power verbs to save the day. Run a Google search and you’ll find many groups of these terms, including overused terms on LinkedIn. You can also use Thesaurus.com to look up synonyms.
Most professional LinkedIn and resume writers scan documents for repeated words (yes, really), just to ensure that employers remain fully engaged in your resume.
4 – Your changes could mess up the formatting.
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.
Even worse, you might feel the need to shrink the font below 11 points. This should only be done for certain sans serif fonts, and then reviewed on different monitors to verify that the over-40 crowd of employers can read your document.
5 – Your writing might take up too much space.
Many resumes and LinkedIn Profiles (when properly written) contain something your English teacher never approved of: sentence fragments.
To keep your resume or LinkedIn from becoming stuffed with content, brief snippets are a MUST.
In fact, most professionally written resumes adhere to the Associated Press Stylebook, which says your meaning must be conveyed in the first 5 to 10 words.
Beware the tendency to contort your copied text into a too-long, winding sentence. It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE for your resume or LinkedIn Profile to pass a quick human scan with densely written content.
6 – 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 document. So, you’re already operating at a severe brand disadvantage before even trying to have someone update the resume for you.
Think about it: you started with someone else’s strategy, brand message, tone, and presentation, and tried to plop a mixed bag of verbiage over the original text. If you seek help, most professional LinkedIn or resume writers will struggle with it without starting fresh.
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—from scratch.