A buddy of mine has been dating. He’s newly returned to the dating scene since his divorce and he’s trying to figure out how to feel less awkward. He, like many people, turned to online options. It’s been a running joke for us for quite some time actually; how many similarities there are between personal matchmaking and career matchmaking.
One point of amusement, in particular, is the profile picture. We laugh over what he calls “angles” when discussing the photos that people choose to represent themselves online. You know those photos…the ones taken from overhead, the side, or obscured. Photos with angles are misleading. They’re like those perspective pictures where a person is holding the Eifel Tower in his or her hand.
In real life, people make decisions about you within the first 6 seconds of meeting you. Fair or not, the way you carry yourself and the character you display only serve as validation for what the person you are meeting has already unconsciously decided about you. When it comes to online introductions, profile photos are the first impression. If it’s not good, what does it say about you?
Profiles, personal websites and resumes provide information that paints a picture of an individual’s background experience and/or work history. Profile photos allow candidates to humanize that information because the image serves as a reminder that there is a real person behind the experience.
Profile photos can be a differentiator. They can convey confidence, professionalism and focus.
LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great tools that enable people to connect to one another. A profile photo on either site allows for quick recognition, especially when following the individual’s stream. While it’s not a requirement to have a profile photo to use networking sites, it is human nature for people to want to know with whom they are communicating. An image does increase the likelihood of connection.
Pros and Cons
The ‘pros’ include exposure, reinforcement of personal/professional branding, approachability and trust.
The ‘cons’ are really related to fear and perception. People believe that photos could lead to discrimination in the hiring process. I see this as an opportunity to provide interviewers with training to reinforce interview skills.
In the hospitality industry, we are guest facing. Essentially, no one is hired without being seen. An image (or video) is a process enhancer because it helps to capture attributes like friendliness, helpfulness and courteousness; all of which are necessary for success in our business.
We are in a visual age. Information is available and infographics provide us with easier means to understand massive amounts of data. Images simplify, and the internet itself is evolving into a more visual tool.
See you soon.