Just as you take advantage of Internet resources to research companies and find job opportunities, potential employers use them to get more background information on candidates. With tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook, you have an open opportunity to showcase your professional side.
What happened the last time you “googled” your name? Hopefully, public links to embarrassing pictures of you on MySpace or Facebook weren’t first to come up. Believe it or not, potential employers look at these links to get an idea of the type of person (yes, even socially) they are considering hiring. What’s important is to keep it professional.
Is the use of photos on LinkedIn professional or not? Although LinkedIn is a large and global professional networking site, it didn’t allow users to post photos until 2007 in an effort to separate themselves from other sites. Based on popular demand, they allow users to post one small photo. In the professional world, it is not advisable to include your picture on a résumé as it is an outdated practice. However, your online profile is a different story because it is your virtual identity and connection to a vast amount of contacts that aren’t necessarily available face-to-face.
Chances are that if a potential employer picks up your résumé and is interested in what they read, they won’t automatically be worried about what you look like. If they happen to do a search on your name, they are looking for things that are connected to you. The fact that they are searching for information about you is a positive thing. It is not to say that hiring decision-makers should decide whether a candidate is “qualified” based on their looks, but simply sometimes putting a face to the name can help prior to an interview.
Time for a cliché—a picture is worth a thousand words.
If you are inclined to use pictures, be careful what types of pictures they are. Pictures, as a first impression or refresher, can ultimately play against you if showing too much age or not enough age. I’m not talking glamour shots, but a plain, professional solo face shot will suffice. Show some personality, but not in an overwhelming way.
Public profiles can also prove detrimental if the information you share is unprofessional or vulgar. Keep your social networking profiles private and be careful who is in your network. Just as you probably wouldn’t want Auntie Aida to see certain aspects of your social life, the same should hold true for potential employers. Potential employers aside, current employers and even customers can gain access to this information and these images. Just because you are in the door, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upkeep and improve your professional image and profile.
Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International