As a job search coach and executive resume writer, I’m consistently astounded at the ways job seekers can stand in their own way of landing the perfect position.
Nothing exemplifies this better than the LinkedIn photo.
You might find putting your headshot on a public forum to be daunting. However, if you’ve resorted to using any available photo, disastrous results can follow.
Don’t blame it on the economy, your age, or experience! Failing to display a professional image online WILL affect your job search.
If your LinkedIn photo shows ANY of the following, employers may refrain from reaching out to you – especially if your target job requires a professional demeanor:
1 – Your pet.
However much you love your dog, cat, or tarantula, employers don’t need to see their shining faces next to yours.
Keep Fido, Fluffy, and Fearless out of your professional life, the same way you’d refrain from taking them to an interview.
2 – The inside of your car.
Want to convey that you’re serious about your career? Then look the part – deliberately – instead of using a random photo that includes a headrest.
Even a great shot of you behind the wheel isn’t enough to make employers think you can drive a new project or team. (pun intended)
3 – Excessive (or white) beards.
While neatly trimmed facial hair is common, some employers react to beards on candidates. Facial hair, especially when it’s white, can age you. My clients consistently report better results when they join the ranks of their clean-shaven counterparts.
Still not convinced? Read this article from CBS News, or do your own online research. The evidence overwhelmingly points to a successful job search for candidates who take the hint and eliminate the white beard.
Unless you’re applying for the position of Kenny Rogers (or Santa Claus), white hair in your LinkedIn photo will not be an advantage in your job search.
4 – Your spouse or children.
Family photos aren’t LinkedIn fodder, because your Profile is all about YOU. Unlike Facebook, where family matters are frequently shared, your LinkedIn Profile is the place to separate work and home.
Show employers you understand this divide by keeping your LinkedIn persona strictly about your professional image.
5 – Bare shoulders.
Here’s one I see constantly: professional women in less-than-professional attire.
It baffles me to see someone who’s undoubtedly spent countless hours honing her career skills and earning a path to a leadership role… in a cocktail dress on a career-oriented networking site.
Sure, you look good, but this isn’t the best professional image you could send to Every.Prospective.Boss in the world. Doing so can also make it appear that you’ve confused LinkedIn with Facebook – not a wise move when many jobs require social media aptitude.
Bottom line: if you wouldn’t wear a strapless dress, sports t-shirt, or low-cut blouse to the office, then don’t show this attire on LinkedIn.
6 – A political sign.
You may believe that endorsing (or bashing) a political figure on LinkedIn will promote your cause. But guess what? Your prospective boss might be on the other side of your political leanings.
As the last election showed all too well, at least half of this country disagrees with you (and therefore, may not consider hiring you). Drop the political messages from your Profile photo and text, and see what happens.
7 – Your spouse’s shoulder.
Cropping yourself out of a family photo not only looks obvious, but implies that you’re camera-shy (and perhaps won’t project sufficient confidence at work).
Get over your reluctance – your job search success may depend on it. You can easily get a great-looking photo by relying on a professional headshot photographer.
These pros are often affordable (as low as $30 at a chain store), and experts at making you look your best (even if you don’t feel picture-perfect!). They’ll position you at a flattering angle, and even apply airbrushing at your request.
You’ll never need that shoulder again.
To sum it up, your LinkedIn Profile isn’t just the “new resume” – it’s a fresh opportunity to promote your brand by looking the part of the consummate expert.
If your LinkedIn Profile isn’t gaining traction, take a serious look at your posted photo. Changing it to a professional-looking headshot might just be the push needed for employers to contact you.