LinkedIn is a great resource for local and international business professionals from all walks of life. The platform is commonly used by sales and marketing professionals for lead generation and for increasing their network to make sales. It is also used daily by many thousands of agency and corporate recruiters like myself who are seeking candidates for open positions and by job seekers hunting for their next career opportunity. The fact that I used the word “professionals” twice in the prior three sentences however was not an error. It was intentional. The reality is that LinkedIn is a “professional” networking platform. It’s a place where aspiring or working “professionals” (there’s that word again) can put their best foot forward and use this mostly free platform to market themselves to prospective employers, clients and recruiters. As a recruiter, I use LinkedIn every single day. You can say that I practically live on it and have for many years. I have placed more candidates into very well-paying jobs over the last 7 years using LinkedIn than I have using any other online tool.
So by now you may be asking yourself why I’m comparing LinkedIn to Facebook. Everyone knows they’re different platforms so why write about it. The answer is simple. These platforms both allow users to post a photo of themselves and add biographical data. Since Linkedin however is a “professional” network the question I ask is why do people not always post the best photo of themselves they can find or in some cases post photos that are in fact unprofessional in nature or just plain silly? Just today I have seen photos of people on LinkedIn with strange looking hats, a selfie with a dog, and one with just “way” too much cleavage showing. It’s not that I’m anti-hat or anti-dog, or even worse… anti-cleavage. It’s just that those photos do not allow a person to represent themselves in a professional manner. I also just remembered a photo I saw recently of a young man that was a software developer that used an imaging tool to expand his eyes out to be so large I thought he must have been a character in a 1950s alien from Mars movie. Was the photo funny? Of course it was. In fact, I called all of my office colleagues over to my desk and we all had a good laugh. And then I said “next.” Even if this candidate possessed all of the skills my client needed for the position they have to fill there is just no way I’m going to send a guy in for an interview with that photo on his profile.
My reasoning is simple. The candidates I introduce to my clients need to be “professional” in every sense of the word and that includes the photos they use of themselves on their profile. In a way, the candidates I introduce to my clients are a direct reflection of my own professionalism. We hear from hiring managers all the time that when they receive a resume one of the first things they do is look the candidate up on LinkedIn. If the candidate has a strong profile that includes a professional photo it gives the hiring manager a positive indicator of the type of person they will be spending valuable time interviewing. If they look and see a poorly prepared profile or even worse one with a semi-wacky photo I can guaranty that the candidate will rarely make it to the interview stage.
The advice I always give to candidates is that “everyone” should have a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo. The photo does not have to be taken by a photographer. It just needs to be one that would be appealing to the audience you are trying to attract. You need to look at your profile as your brochure and LinkedIn is generous enough to allow you to put it out there for free so unless you are looking for a way to attract recruiters, clients or new business colleagues from outer space, a professional photo is the way to go.