This week I ran a LinkedIn Profile Page contest. There were some very strong contestants but I did behold many people ambushing themselves. These days, LinkedIn is the new business card. Here are my tips for presenting yourself to the public in a way that builds professional credibility instead of making you look as if you are trying to be Taylor Swift.
If you would include your photo in what I describe below, perhaps you should consider an upgrade. It can be as simple as taking your iPhone and having a photo shoot in your home with a close friend.
- Some people look like they are going out on a date in their pictures. This is a business website, not Match.com. It’s not time for being cute or sexy. How many times does a boss say, “She looks so hot on LinkedIn. I bet she can recite the whole Fibonacci series from memory, let me hire her now.” Trying to look like a hottie as if you are going on American Idol (too much makeup, casual clothing, casual jewelry) is going to discredit you. Unless, of course, you are an aspiring musician.
- The picture should be formatted in a crisp fashion. If it’s a cropped picture where it’s obvious you have your arm around someone that you cut out, don’t bother posting it. Also, it doesn’t have to be perfect to the millimeter, but overall it should be centered horizontally and vertically. Otherwise, what you’re saying is that you are okay with sloppy work. It would be better to have no picture at all. Let me ask you this. How many times do you pass by a restaurant with a dingy exterior or torn curtains and say, “What a pigsty but I’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt and go on it anyways. I’m sure the food won’t taste bad.” Nope! You’re flying past them and heading to KFC.
- Noisy background. I’ve seen it all: stop signs, palm trees, Brazilian Carnivale, family room curtains, American flags in the background. Fine for FaceBook but not for a business website. A plain monotone backdrop works best.
- Not looking straight at the camera. It is a basic human instinct. We respond most strongly to body language rather than verbal language. Lack of direct eye contact, whether in person or in a photo, conveys either that you are hiding something or you have poor self esteem. It is a subconscious effect that this has on the audience. We may not even realize that it is having this effect on us, but it is. Even if you are half making eye contact (eyes averted as if you are gazing into the distance instead of looking right at the camera), it is offputting to the viewer.
- Extreme close up. I think people do this in order to crop out something in the background. While no doubt it’s better to hide something that doesn’t belong in the picture, it has a slightly overbearing effect to present an enlarged picture of a gigantic face with no empty space surrounding it.
- No picture at all. Now, while it is better to not include a picture than include one with the characteristics described above, omitting a picture might convey the sense that you either are scared to show what you look like for some reason or that you don’t really intend to foster personal connections with other people on the site who don’t already know you.
Your LinkedIn picture should look how you would dress up if you were going to a job interview. It should look as you would look if you were going to meet with a client. You are showing your prospective employers or clients how you would present yourself to your coworkers, clients, and the public.
As for other characteristics of the winning page, the best contestants had a title line which was short and to the point (two or three words), a summary section no longer than two sentences, and job descriptions that talked about the benefits, not features, of what they did. I advise against including your entire resume and recommend two or three bullet points outlining the major results you created in each job included.
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools available to you for your job search. I recently got a six figure job offer from a company who found me on LinkedIn, completely unsolicited. Please contact me if I can be of help to anyone who has questions or wants to know how to do this for themselves.
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