Clients often ask me if they need all three and about the strategy of each. To answer: Yes, you need all three, and while your strategy -- to tell your professional story -- is the same with each, the way you go about it is different for each of these career essentials.
If you're job hunting, planning to look for a new gig or seeking new clients you need to be ready with your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Here's what you need to know to work each of these to your favor.
Keep your resume brief, high level.
Your resume is a brief glimpse at your career. It's your highlights reel. I'm a firm believer in keeping it to one page -- one side of one page, to be specific. It can be done. My resume has always been one page, and my career spans more than 20 years and several major career shifts.
The idea is to pique the the interest of a recruiter, hiring manager or potential client. You want to leave the reader with a clear idea of who you but also the desire to get to know you better. You want to land the interview or introductory phone call.
Think high level. Use bulleted lists of accomplishments. Use more detail for your most current jobs and as you get to the oldest ones, know that they might not merit more than a single line.
Where I see resumes go wrong is that they are too long and try to do too much. Encyclopedic is not the goal. Save the details for LinkedIn. More on that later.
Make sure your cover letter is customized.
Your cover letter is the narrative of your career and your case for why you are well suited for the job or role you're going for. You must write a new cover letter or tweak your current cover letter template for each opportunity. The parts about you will largely stay the same, but when it comes to explaining why you are The Right Candidate, you must be specific.
Customize, customize, customize. Keep a file of all cover letters so that you always have a starting point, because getting started is the toughest part.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and complete.
Your LinkedIn profile is your resume, cover letter and more.
The summary story offers you space to tell the story of your career and how you got to where you are and what you have achieved or learned along the way. The experience section is your resume -- without space limitations. Add in all the details that don't fit on your single-page resume, but still try to be as succinct or organized as possible; bulleted lists are still your friends here. Don't forget to add sections for volunteer work, licenses and certifications.
Remember, LinkedIn is more than your online resume. Network with your connections. Reply to messages. Upload media links -- to newspaper articles, websites, videos and more -- that show off your work. Post status updates or interesting articles that you read or wrote yourself.
There's so much you can do on LinkedIn that it's best if you keep it always fresh and up to date. Don't wait until you're putting job hunting. After all, people can and will check you out whenever they want. Put your best professional self out there at all times. It's worth the effort.
Bonus tip: Create a customized LinkedIn URL that looks cleaner and more professional atop your resume.