My mom (of Atlanta career counseling fame) and I finally came up with what so many people seeking jobs are doing wrong with their various application materials. People come into her office all the time and say that they need help making their cover letter reflect their resume or figuring out how to highlight all their achievements on LinkedIn.
Here’s the thing. Between a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn, why would you say the same thing three times instead of making each one bring out something new about you? Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn don’t need to be a rehashing of the same things. So which one does which? Here’s what I’d like to go ahead and coin as the The Application Trifecta (patent pending).
Your resume says, “these are the awesome things I’ve done.”
Your cover letter says, “these are the things I can do for you.”
Your LinkedIn says, “this is my dream.”
Your resume: you want to highlight the action verbs of things that you’ve done. Read more about resumes in #8 of How To Find An Internship, Part 1).
Your cover letter: you’ll be highlighting action verbs that the organization has listed in the job posting, while backing it up with things that you’ve done and why you can do those things. (You can learn more about effective cover letters in #7 of How To Find An Internship, Part 1).
Your LinkedIn: It’s easy to see LinkedIn as just an online version of your resume. Sure, it can be that. But it can be so much more. LinkedIn, as basically a fancy social networking site, is basically a way to hang your career hopes and dreams on your metaphorical cubical wall. Your LinkedIn summary on your profile is the most obvious way to do this. It gives you a chance to introduce yourself and say, “Hi, I’m Caroline and I’d like to combine my ability to create shared value by someday becoming an environmental consultant.” You’re not going to say it in a presumptuous way (I’m not saying that I already am an environmental consultant); you’re expressing to professionals who see your profile that you have ambitious and a possible vision. That said, it’s okay if you don’t really know what you want. You can say that but express the kinds of skills you enjoy using.
The other ways to create your “vision” on LinkedIn is by adding “influencers” in your field of interest. I added several environmental advocates and businesspeople to show the kinds of people I’d aspire to be like. You can also add causes you care about, get endorsements for skills (and make sure to endorse back!), and “follow” companies that you’d be interested in working for. All of these things make you looked like an engaged pre-professional who’s ready to go after what you want. For more LinkedIn tips, see here and here.
Now you know: it may feel like a lot to have to have a presence with your resume, cover letter, and resume, but it’s really just three different opportunities to present yourself.