Saturday, February 2, 2013

Don't Use a "Spork" When You Really Need a Spoon

I love LinkedIn. I use it personally, recommend my clients use it, and I've written numerous Pass-Along Materials content packages to help other resume writers and career services professionals help their clients use it more effectively. (Among them: "Getting Started With LinkedIn In Your Job Search" [2013 update] and "How to Give — and Get — LinkedIn Recommendations".)

So when I see an article posted about LinkedIn, I tend to read it! This was the case with an article posted a few weeks ago on Career Rocketeer, called "7 LinkedIn Tools Job Seekers Should Be Using."

(For those who are unaware of the Career Rocketeer blog, it's a heavily trafficked career blog that "invites" career service professionals to increase their visibility by paying to post on the site. Packages range from $99 to $299 and include the opportunity to contribute between 2-8 "sponsored posts" [emphasis mine] a month.)

I was prompted to write this blog post because I saw a well-meaning fellow resume writer share the original article this morning, without sharing any commentary or personal insight. Many times, however, you'll come across an article and agree with most of it, but as resume writers, it's also our duty to point out when advice in an article contradicts advice we'd personally give clients. Otherwise, it looks like we're endorsing the information (not simply sharing it).

The article in question is a simple "roundup" format — it lists seven LinkedIn-offered or related apps, and provides a quick snippet of their functionality as it relates to jobseekers. The author, however, does not appear to be a career services professional. ("Rob Hilborn is from, the consumer advice website for UK-based broadband Internet providers.") A quick Google and Twitter search reveals this appears to be the only job search-related article Mr. Hilborn has written.

Now to the central point of my blog post: "Don't use a spork when you really need a spoon."
You know what a "spork" is, don't you? It's that unwieldy combination of spoon-and-fork — not quite one, not quite the other.

Because the author's background is in marketing for a technology firm, it's not surprising that his focus for using LinkedIn is on the tools, not on the functionality of the tools.

In the article, he recommends jobseekers use LinkedIn's Resume Builder App to turn their LinkedIn profile into a PDF or a Word document. That's a terrible idea! The Resume Builder App is an awful substitute for a resume. As resume writers, we counsel jobseekers all the time not to simply copy-and-paste their resume into LinkedIn.

I would never suggest a client use the Resume Builder app. It's like someone asking you for a spoon and you handing them a spork. Yes, it may work ... but when you need a spoon, use a spoon!!

The point of this post isn't to debate the merits of the 7 tools Mr. Hilborn recommends for jobseekers (I would also never recommend the "Apply with LinkedIn" function or the LinkedIn hResume Wordpress plugin — wow, that's 3 of the 7 tools I can't support him recommending to jobseekers), but to remind the readers of this blog — career services professionals — of the need to vet and "qualify" the resources that we recommend. If 90% of an article or blog post is great advice — fabulous, but make sure you point out that 10% you don't recommend. There is so much career-related advice out there ... if we share it without examining it, we're contributing to the clutter, not improving the quality of the content and elevating it to a dialogue.

And, above all, work to identify the "spoons" and "forks" that will be truly useful utensils to our jobseeking clients, not one-size-fits-all "sporks" that may work, but really get the job done.


  1. I love the title of this article. So true. Great points.

  2. I'm a nerd! One of my favorite episodes of "Alias" features the "spork!"

  3. that's brilliant blog for creating a CV.Useful Career Tool is so good.