I think I must be getting more ornery in my old age – and I don’t really consider myself old. However, there is something that really does annoy me online when people are joining BUSINESS networks. Notice I said business….I mean sites like LinkedIn, oDesk, etc. Those that require you to put up a profile that people are going to review for potential hiring reasons.
Your mother isn’t going to hire you
Stop putting your high school (or college) photograph in your profile. It does NOT help your credibility. Chances are pretty high that your mom isn’t going to hire you and honestly, she’s the only one that cares about that picture besides you. Your cap and gown might have cost you a small fortune, but potential employers and clients DO NOT CARE.
Pets are not professional
Seriously? Your photograph of you and your dog is great on Facebook. Not so much on your blog or your LinkedIn profile. Photographs should be tailored to the audience you are targeting. Unless you are seeking a position as a pets writer, illustrator or want to work in a pet shop, spare potential clients the joy of getting to know your dog, cat or snake. They DO NOT CARE.
Lose that T-Shirt
Yes, that’s the one – with the pot plant on it, the needle or your favorite rapper or rock group. NOT professional. You do not have to put on a shirt and tie, but at least have the common sense (oh I forgot that goes out the window) to put on a good front. A collared shirt is appropriate for your business profile, save the weed for your Facebook page.
Think about an interview
Take an honest look at the photograph you are using: Would you look like this when you go for an interview? If the answer is no, then CHANGE IT. You do not have to be in a three piece suit when you take an image for use online. BUT you should be smiling, friendly and still professional looking.
Some people do not use photographs of themselves online due to privacy concerns. Ironically, these are often the same people who have photographs of their children on their Facebook page, in their blogs (yes, I’m rolling my eyes). But, there are those who have specific concerns about their privacy and prefer to not have their own photograph on any sites. It’s fine to use a rendering of your photograph which masks your identity. However, you probably want to avoid the “stock photo syndrome” which involves several people using the same image. Avoid funky cartoons and the like as well. If you MUST use a stock photograph CREDIT THE ILLUSTRATOR (DAH!) so that people KNOW it is not you.
The real bottom line: If you are using LinkedIn make sure that you are aware of the presence you are presenting to those who use the site. I could scream when I see people looking like they are ready to graduate from school (e.g., cap and gown), that they look like they are surrounded with a houseful of children and animals or that they are ready to go out jogging. Use some common sense!