This article by James Caan was dead on the mark in regards to your LinkedIn profile. The lessons of tools should also be applied across all social media platforms. Recently, I was contracted to work at a career consulting firm working with CEO’s, VP’s, and higher executive management that were displaced employees from major Fortune 500 companies. It baffled me that many did not know, understand or comprehend the important and fundamental reference in personal brand development. One of my key elements while working at the career consulting firm was to assist and educate the candidates on the benefit of using LinkedIn to build and expand their network. Upon working in Corporate America, many were very clueless on what to do with LinkedIn or better yet even knew what is was? Even today, I found many of my colleagues and business associates are just as clueless. In today’s society, personal branding starts with how you see yourself, thereafter, what you display on the internet aka social media. What are you selling? It’s imperative that we take a serious look on how we brand ourselves – this is what many employers, potential clients are researching, and making judgement. It does not take much to build your brand and maintain. My suggestion, keep it short, simple, engaging and be consistent.
Who’s looking at your LinkedIn profile picture? More people than you think.
I often write about the importance of developing and building your personal brand. This also means taking control of your personal and professional brand on the Internet. Some people have told me that not posting a photo on LinkedIn is a good thing because it helps avoid discrimination. But, if a company or a person is going to discriminate against you because of age, sex or race the discrimination will happen regardless once you come in for that interview. And that’s not the type of company you’d want to work for. You do however want to work for a company that looks at your whole package and all that you have to offer. A LinkedIn profile with a professional photo can make or break you.
On Twitter the message is less subtle, if don’t have a profile photo, you’re by default an ‘egg’. Meaning you haven’t hatched into the world of social media. On LinkedIn everyone is a ‘male silhouette’.
How Will You Personally Brand Yourself?
A complete LinkedIn profile speaks volumes about the person’s level of professionalism. A complete LinkedIn profile can indicate to recruiters that this person has the complete package. If someone who just graduated from university has a professional photo and completed profile, this would indicate to me this person is an up-and-comer and go-getter. These individuals get the importance of brand – essential to any role in any company.
Recognition and Power of Networking
Imagine meeting a recruiter at a large networking event. You impress them and months later you’re applying for a position at that company. Recruiters usually visit a candidate’s LinkedIn profile upon receiving thousands of CVs (80 percent of all recruiters do this). It could be that they visit your account and recognize you from the photo. You’re guaranteed that the recruiter will remember the personal connection you’ve established and chances are you’d get the invitation for the interview.
Is Your Photo Industry Appropriate?
This all goes back to branding. What do you want your potential employer to remember you by? At an interview you have to fit the part by acting and speaking the part. In this stage it comes down to do you look like you fit the part? For example, if you are involved in the field of government, it may be appropriate to have a professional photo of yourself with your countries flag in the background. If you work in construction, would a professional photo of you in a hard-hat make you look more the part? If you are in a creative industry – show your creativity and do something different with you photo. Or perhaps you may want to think about a physical location that speaks to your industry. Will you take your photo in front of Wall Street or Parliament?
The Risk of No Picture
Recruiters spend more time on profiles that have a photo. Why lose your audience’s attention so quickly? Think about it – most people move off of social media profiles without a picture. Don’t you? LinkedIn has said that entries in LinkedIn search results with photos beside them are seven times more likely to be clicked on than entries without photos.
Oh, Those Grainy-pixelated Photos
Another mistake candidates make is cropping an image of themselves out of an existing photo. This often will make the image appear very pixelated on LinkedIn. This shows that you didn’t take the time to brand yourself properly. If you can’t take the time to brand yourself, a recruiter may link that to the fact that you wouldn’t be able to brand the future company to your best ability. All employees are eventually brand ambassadors. Today there are hundreds of freelance sites from Freelancer.com to Elance.com. Maximize your resources; freelancers are out there to help you with a professional headshot.