I am constantly amazed at how little money most professionals are willing to spend to promote and market themselves. Like this kind of investment — investing in yourself —  is crass, egotistical, and over-indulgent. Our actions and accomplishments speak for themselves, right? We’re sick of hearing about this “personal branding” thing. After all, we’re not cars or soft drinks. 

Many VP level executives making well into six figures wouldn’t think twice about spending hundreds of dollars to play 18 holes of golf, or go to a stadium to watch their favorite professional sports team. But spend a few hundred dollars on a professional head shot — or $500 to $1000 on a professionally written résumé? NEVER! Why?

This is YOUR career! Accept responsibility for it. Just because your employer won’t spend the money to send you to a professional photographer to get a decent head shot made, don’t cop an attitude. Spend your own money and start collecting the dividends from your investment… in yourself.

LinkedIn profiles with pictures receive 50 to 70 percent more click-throughs than those with no picture. Yet, as we all know, most of the pictures we see on LinkedIn are amateur photos; pictures from special events like weddings (with invariably someone chopped out of the picture), vacation shots, poorly exposed and grainy cell phone shots taken in a bar or restaurant, low resolution blurry shots from who-knows-where. If this describes your head shot on LinkedIn, what does that say about you? Not much.

Let me ask you a question. Do you want to make and immediate and positive first impression with the recruiters viewing your LinkedIn profile? Use a professionally made head shot, looking directly into the camera, wearing business attire. With very little effort, you’ve just leaped over 60 percent of your peers and potential competition, demonstrating to that recruiter you’re someone they can feel confident in representing. 

Several weeks ago I met with an author/career coach in New York to discuss recording an interview for TotalPicture Radio. Obviously, I had reviewed her LinkedIn profile, (she had a professional head shot), and I made a mental note of what she looked like. When she came up and introduced herself, my jaw must have dropped. She was 15 to 20 years older than her LinkedIn profile picture, and unrecognizable. 

Which brings me to this — primarily directed toward my fellow baby boomers: It is what it is. When it comes to aging, my friends, It is what it is. Don’t hide behind a 20 year old photograph. A large part of the whole motivation for connecting with people on LinkedIn, cultivating relationships through online networks is to turn those virtual connections into face-to-face meetings. Right?Don’t make that first in-person meeting awkward and embarrassing for all concerned by using terribly outdated photographs in your online profiles, which have little relationship to your current appearance.

When reaching out to connect with people on LinkedIn, make it personal and relevant. To quote from my friend, Donato Diorio’s LinkedIn profile, “LinkedIn invites: Reach out and tell me WHY you want to connect. If your invite starts with: "Since you're a person I trust" OR "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn".... well, if it's not worth your time to personalize, it's not worth my time to accept.” 

Part of the motivation for writing this came from Bill Kutik. If you know Bill, you know that he doesn’t mince his words. At a nice lunch overlooking the Saugatuck River in Westport, Bill said to me, “You need to update your LinkedIn picture. You don’t look like that anymore. Get with the program.” He was right. 

Remember, you are ultimately responsible for your career. Your job and your career are not the same thing. Take the time and make the effort to proactively manage every aspect and detail of your online identity and reputation. Invest in it. Nurture it. Promote it wisely, and often. Contribute to relevant LinkedIn industry groups and blogs by sharing your knowledge and expertise. By doing so, you stand a far better chance of accomplishing your goals. On your terms.

Views: 419

Comment by Anna Brekka on May 14, 2014 at 9:53am

Hi Peter, welcome to RecruitingBlogs!

I agree nothing more awkward then a on-line profile/persona, picture and all,  that doesn't match the real you. Branding starts with you, warts and all. 

Comment by Ryan Leary on May 14, 2014 at 10:37am

"I made a mental note of what she looked like" - This is a fear on many. Although I agree 100% with your views, it's often debated as polar opposite to what you are stressing.

"When she came up and introduced herself, my jaw must have dropped. She was 15 to 20 years older than her LinkedIn profile picture, and unrecognizable."  <--- For this reason

Great post and welcome to the community!

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 14, 2014 at 11:34am

@Peter: Also,welcome aboard!

Do you think we're moving toward a European-type system with pictures required on our resumes?



Comment by Peter Clayton on May 14, 2014 at 3:09pm
Thanks Keith -- good question. I think for many professionals, LinkedIn is their resume... Especially if they're employed and in a high-demand job, industry, or company. Everything I've been told by recruiters would suggest no. Their ATS can't deal with pictures, graphics, or fancy formatting... (let alone mobile apply, but that's for another day,)
Comment by Keith Halperin on May 14, 2014 at 4:13pm

You're very welcome, Peter. If I understand you properly, (from a hob-hunting/recruiting perspective) since the ATS can't deal with pictures, the picture is mainly/exclusively to positively influence the recruiter? If so, Isee the possibility of a massive class-action lawsuit brought by members of Group X,, who are on the receiving end of adverse impact:

'While Company Y doesn't overtly discriminate against Group X using LI Profiles, an unreasonably small proportion of otherwise qualified members of Group X who have photos in their profiles seem to be recruited by Company Y."

Your thoughts....

Comment by Linda Ferrante on May 14, 2014 at 4:17pm

NO on the photos on resumes!  We would be opening ourselves up to potential lawsuit/discrimination if that happens.  There's a big difference between receiving a resume and looking at a random LI profile.  Bottom line, people are litigious and we don't want to give them another reason to lash out.  Whenever I do receive a resume with a photo, or any other 'personal' info, I reply and ask them to submit a resume minus all the other info.  

It's a small thing, but sometimes a necessary one.

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 14, 2014 at 4:55pm

Well-said, Linda. I can imagine class-action lawsuits against companies that use LI to recruit

1) From people who have pictures who feel they've been adversely impacted by their picture,

2) From people who DON"T have pictures who feel they've been adversely impacted by the lack of a picture, because they might be discriminated against.

3) By these sued companies and the same plaintiffs themselves: LI itself, for facilitating discrimination by encouraging pictures.

4) Against these plaintiff companies and plaintiffs BY LI itself,for maliciously damaging the company's reputation

As Bob Dylan said: "Ain't no reason to be sad and blue- ev'rybody must get sued...."


Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 14, 2014 at 6:01pm
It would be almost impossible to prove that anyone did or did not get hired because of a pic on linkedin or the lack of a pic on linkedin. Don't worry about it. We have not reached the point yet that we can get sued for thinking somebody looks like 30 miles of bad road and moving on to the next profile.

People get hired or rejected everyday because of the way they look or present in an interview. First impressions are probably 50% of the interaction between people in all situations.
Comment by Keith Halperin on May 14, 2014 at 7:35pm

@ Sandra: while it might be very hard to prove that a single person was/wasn't hired, if the hired people largely look one way (white, male, young), and the not-hired people largely look a different way (non-white, female, old), that's where a lot of money can change hands. I wonder what OFCCP regulations say (if anything) about pictures in resume/profiles?

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on May 14, 2014 at 8:51pm

While I agree overall with what you are referring to image-wise, Peter, I don't really get that hung up on LI photos. I guess I've just gotten to the point that nothing really shocks me any more on that site.  

Yes. There are some outrageously bad examples - like the fitness pose lady doing a forward kick so her crotch is front & center or the shirtless guy flexing on the beach. So tacky! 

Anyway, I do think we all are judged on these superficial factors and agree that people should take appropriate action to make sure they present themselves in the best possible way.

I posted an article recently about how submitting a "flawed" resume is IMO the #1 reason for rejection. If there's issues with the best possible 1st impression that a resume is meant to show, then why shouldn't it be rejected? Not sure why so many people refuse to understand that... 


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