Are you a totally plugged-in social media whiz? Are you someone who has a LinkedIn profile just because everyone said you ought to? Or are you maybe somewhere between those two extremes? No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s worth being aware of the impact your online presence can have on the success of your career.
By the Numbers
According to recruiting platform Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey:
52% of recruiters say they always search for candidates’ online profiles during the hiring process.
93% of corporate recruiters use or plan to use social media – such as LinkedIn – for hiring.
That’s up from 82% who said they used or planned to use social media for hiring in 2010, and, though it doesn’t have too much higher to go, it’s a fair bet that that number will rise.
As you might expect, given its mission as a business networking platform, LinkedIn was cited by recruiters as the social media network they are most likely to look at. Facebook follows as a fairly respectable second-choice search, which is a good thing for job-seekers to keep in mind. (And 55% say that they have reconsidered hiring a candidate because of what they have posted online – also a good thing to keep in mind.)
Hone Your Social Media Edge
There is a lot of competition in the job market.You can’t afford to pass up the edge that a well-crafted LinkedIn profile could give you. Elizabeth Magill, contributing writer for The Big Interview, shares some great tips for putting together a knock-their-socks-off social media profile. If you feel your online presence could use a bit of polishing, you may find her insights into the key elements of a LinkedIn profile helpful.
Naturally, given what we do here at C1M, we couldn’t agree more with Magill when she says, “Your photograph is a visual representation of who you are to the world of LinkedIn. Don’t go with a grainy ten-year-old summer vacation photograph.” She recommends what she calls a “professional-looking” headshot. We’d go even further. We believe that a headshot that merely looks professional isn’t enough. You need a headshot that is crafted specifically to create a connection with anyone who looks at it.
If that sounds too out-there for you, think of it this way: when you write the words of your LinkedIn profile, you have to have them properly formatted. It has to look right. But the most perfectly formatted profile will fail to perform if the content isn’t right. You have to use your words to craft a message that will speak to your intended audience. And you need your profile photo to communicate that same message, whatever it might be.
Of course, the temptation to use that “grainy…summer vacation” photo is there. It’s hard to set aside our own notions of how we look our best to see ourselves through a potential employer’s or potential client’s eyes. And when we’re on vacation, we are (ideally) relaxed and happy. It is easy to look at a photo like that and think that it’s the best image you have of yourself. What you need to keep in mind is that your LinkedIn profile photo is not for you. It’s meant to attract prospects to you, and they will be much more interested in how attentive and competent you are than in how happy and relaxed you are. Your profile picture isn’t even really just a picture. It’s a vital piece of your personal brand. To be as effective as you can be – to be as successful as you hope to be – you have to have a consistent and coherent personal brand.
How Social Media Makes Your First Impression
Look at those stats above one more time: 93% of recruiters at least plan to use social media as part of their hiring process. 52% always search for a candidate’s online profile. What does this mean to you? It means that potential employers are highly likely to form their all-important first impression of you based on the profile photo you choose to display.
Like it or not, as open-minded and fair as we might try to be, we judge people based on their appearance. We truly can’t help it. It’s part of our brain’s subconscious, survival-oriented hard wiring. In a more savage time it was vital to be able to quickly decide if a stranger was a potential friend or a likely foe. Fight or flight. Approach or avoid. Thankfully, the world is, by and large, a more civilized place these days. But that wiring keeps ticking along, doing its job of categorizing new faces as trustworthy – or not. It happens in fractions of a second. And scientific studies conducted by Alexander Todorov of Princeton have proven that it happens with photographs as well as in person.
All of this means that your social media presence needs some attention. If you’ve never established that presence at all, now is the time. If it’s been a little while since you’ve tuned it up, set aside a few minutes to scan through your various profiles to make sure that they’re up-to-date and complete. Cast an impartial eye on it to make sure that every element sends a consistent message about who you are and what you hope to achieve in your professional life. And if you find that your photo isn’t creating the sense of connection that you’d like it to … well, we happen to know someone who could help with that.
Walter Schnecker, CPP, CPC, CCH
Walter Schnecker is the owner of C1M Photography, LLC, in Amherst NH. He loves using his years of experience in the industry to provide each and every client with a polished, professional and, most importantly, effective headshot.
May. 12, 2015 Executive Headshots,Social Media No Comments