Call it muscle memory, but we all get that “new year” feeling in September. Even if we’ve left the classroom behind years ago, the “back-to-school” buzz seems to kick in, no matter our age. And the pressure is on to start off on a new page.
It’s great to harness that energy to rev up your search for new or different job opportunities. The question is how?
The experts at The Bagg Group have some tried-and-true lesson plans to share.
Between us at Bagg Pro, Bagg Technology Resources, Bagg Managed Resources, Bagg @ Your Service and Turn Key Staffing Solutions we’ve helped thousands graduate from job-seekers to happy full-time, contract and temporary employees in every imaginable occupation.
So open a new folder and get ready to earn a few gold stars from our award-winning recruiters.
Today’s lesson: A new class photo. Sure, you’re in a class of your own, but you may need to rethink your current profile photo on LinkedIn or other social media if it’s not making the grade.
Here are four textbook reasons why your profile pic matters:
- LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and the third-largest social networking site. It has 332 million members in more than 12 million countries. You are on a very big stage.
- According to LinkedIn, if you have a profile picture, your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed. In other words, not putting your best face forward is not a good option.
- There was a time when the first time a potential employer would lay on eyes on you would probably be at a job interview. Not anymore. Now, HR, recruiters, hiring managers will look you up online first. That all-important first impression is made not with your resume or your pithy description, but with a picture of your face.
- The good news: It’s not a beauty contest, it’s an approachability contest. No need to look Kardashian fabulous, just friendly and approachable. If you come off as at all arrogant or with an attitude, people will simply not favour you.
Answer these eight questions to figure out if your picture makes the cut.
If it doesn’t, post a new one asap. It’s worth your time and effort. Eyes are on you so this is the right time to call in favours from people who are skilled with a camera.
What’s that you are wearing? Dress for your picture the same way people dress in your line of work. If looking for a job in a field where people wear jackets, put one on for the shot.
Employers instinctively seek out people they feel will fit in to their work culture. If you’re an undersea explorer, you can wear a wetsuit – but only if. In any case, the picture should only show your upper body, so you can keep on the sweatpants.
What’s that in the background? Plain and simple is the way to go. No logos, no distracting pictures or posters, no pets, kids, surfers, sloths, or cute zoo animals. You need to be the only star in the shot.
Is that a selfie in the mirror? If so, you get a failing grade. Selfies are too casual for the purposes of LinkedIn. You’d be surprised how many put up selfies taken in their bedroom, bathroom or local pub, and then wonder why no one contacts them. You can take heart that you’re not one of them.
Are you in the light or shadows? You really don’t want to appear in the dark –it sends the wrong message. Also, shadows can cast a harsh look that works against your smile. If you look more menacing than friendly, retake.
Is your pic clear, or a jigsaw puzzle? Many of us are self-conscious and feel happier to be seen in a soft fuzzy focus. But though we might like the blurred effect, studies show people looking at our picture don’t. Pixelated pictures come off as unprofessional –as do those funky filters. And colour goes over much better than black-and-white.
What’s your pose? Trick question. We shouldn’t know what pose you are striking because your picture should only be a headshot. Body shots are just not appropriate for this venue, no matter how great your handstand is.
To smile or not to smile? The right answer is smile. We’ve seen hundreds of studies on the impact of smiling and one from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland makes a particularly convincing case. That large study found that men and women are more attracted to images of people who make eye-contact with the camera and smile.
The most important thing is to post a picture that shows you to be lively, happy (although not punch-drunk happy).
The worst is to post an angry looking mug shot type picture in which you come off as grumpy, unpleasant and not somebody you’d want to share an elevator with.
Is a younger you a better you? No. Many older candidates, worried about ageism, do post pictures that seriously out-of-date. It’s tempting, but it’s counter-productive to be deceptive. You can photoshop a little, but it’s really important that the interviewer recognizes you from your picture, otherwise the first thought they have –conscious or not –is that you have misled them. Everyone understands that you’ll use a photo that flatters, but it must still look like you.
A smile that doesn’t include your eyes lacks warmth and authenticity.
The leading scientists on body language say a genuine smile involves muscles of the mouth, cheeks and around the eyes and we instinctively know a real smile from a fake one.
So think about something you love when the camera goes click and 332 million people (or a percentage thereof anyway) on LinkedIn will see the difference.