When was the last time you thought about the message your personal profile image is sending to potential new employers?
Lets start with a question: how many Social Media sites do you currently use? 2…3…6…10? Lucky you! You are part of the masses using Social media on a daily basis in your home, at the office, on your mobile and in the toilet.
Bonus! If you’re reading this article you obvious believe that leveraging social media is an absolute need for both personal and business these days.
Next question: Who believes that first impressions are important? *(Yes that was rhetorical) and I think that goes without saying…
Listen…We’ve all seen the terrible – cringeworthy profile shots that people use on their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media Networking sites. For me its like nails running down the chalkboard. I want to email them at midnight and ask them – Do you realize how unprofessional you appear, how you are devaluating your personal brand, and immediately eliminating yourself as a candidate for that new position JUST by using the profile image you are currently displaying? NO employer wants to see a picture of you cropped from a larger image (with the ex or party buddies), yellow, dark-underexposed, on vacation, in a bar with your sunnies on, playing footie with your mates, with your dog/girlfriend, LARPING etc. And trust me – they WILL Google you. And they will find you on Social Media – it’s part of standard HR vetting practices now. Imagine your whole life – exposed in a click…good and bad. So it’s time to start scrubbing up your online profile.
You may have just graduated from Uni, are entering back into the work force after being a full time mum, or had some life changing event that has propelled you back into the job hunt. Perhaps you are upwardly mobile cosmetic surgeon, barrister, CEO or Executive – consider dropping a few bucks into your local photographers pocket (I personally think that the value you receive from professional headshots will well overtake the monetary investment in the long run if your talking about a 20% pay raise into that new position). If you INSIST on doing it yourself – here are some tips to help you get a great picture.
Consider the Message of Your Profile Image
Does your image show that you are a credible professional, a leader, an authority, an artist, athlete, or just serious partier travelling the world? Take some time to consider what you want to tell people visually in your image; something about you, something personal, something about your story.
Personal Presentation aka Grooming
You need to appear clean, neatly combed and coiffed, ladies – light makeup Dress as your own best representative – are you the modern fashionista the contemporary blog writer, professional athete, powerful corporate lawyer or dental technician? Avoid Loud Patterned shirts, casual t-shirt with rude saying – goes without saying. Try wearing clothing that won’t date as quickly, a simple dress shirt and blazer, muted colors, company logo on your high vis wear.
Location or Background
Do you want to have your picture taken in the Park or the office – Inside vs outside? Both have different lighting and send a different message. An office will seem much more professional, but an athlete may want to portray themselves in the elements in which they are all the time. Environment brings more credibility to an image. Eliminate distractions to the eye like very bright colors, animals, children, signage, building unless they provide some type of context to your story. And remember always – YOU are the single subject of the image. Keep it simple.
Post processing – what you do AFTER you take your image.
Orientation – portrait (tall), or landscape (wide) or square. Portrait is the more traditional orientation for profile, square is more modern, fun and geared toward social media. Do not use filters or cross processing APPS. Keep your image clean and real. Along these lines as well do not use boarders or text. If available make sure to use meta tags, alt_tags, hashtags, and links if available in your uploads as they will add to your SEO and SERPs
The Final List of No-No’s or ‘How to get a nasty email from me at midnight after I check out all your profile images over the next month:
- No party pics
- No vacation pics
- No family pics ( unless it’s a family business)
- No pics with gf/bf
- No sports
- No events
- No flash!
- No sitting in front of your computer generated images
Just a simple focused image with YOU as the primary subject, appearing clean well dressed with no distractions in the image. This will give you a leg up, build trust and confidence in your profile and might even make the difference of you getting that foot in the door initially. Go ahead – use your iphone, ipad, pocket camera, DSLR. Whatever takes pictures for you…But whatever you do remember the KISS Rule. Keep it Simple (Silly).