Visual connections are the first that we form when meeting someone new. It’s vital we own them.
We’ve recently been interviewing for a few positions here at CircleBack, and the other day, something really interesting happened: we reached out to someone we’d met through LinkedIn. This person, on the surface, had everything we wanted, seemed personable enough, and had a very professionally constructed LinkedIn profile. “Great!” we thought. “This ought to be a no-brainer.”
And then it happened… this person walked in for the interview, a full 25 years older than anything in their profile had indicated. The go-getter 30-something we’d met virtually was a 55-year old in person. It threw us for a loop and raised a few red flags.
We thought to ourselves: if this person misrepresented their age, what else is untrue?
And this is exactly what you don’t want to happen.
On LinkedIn, creating a strong professional impression is vital to your success, whether prospecting, transitioning, or just looking to network. But, if you mislead those that are most interested in you, you risk undercutting your professional experience and being considered untrustworthy.
The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture In 5 Steps
- First and foremost, use an age-appropriate picture: Yes, we all looked better when we were younger, but no one faults you for getting older. Be sure to use an age-appropriate picture to avoid any connections feeling misled upon meeting in the flesh.
- Dress the part: If you want a suit-job, wear a suit for your profile picture. If you want a sweatpants and sport-shorts start-up job, wear… a polo or a nice dress. Start with the assumption that you are a professional (business casual) and work your way up from there, dressing as necessary to suggest you belong where you want to be.
- Pick the right background: The bar, the beach, on top of Mt. Rushmore… these are all great places, and all backgrounds that you don’t want for LinkedIn. Be sure that the background doesn’t draw attention away from you, doesn’t imply any sort of irresponsibility or compromised values, etc.
- Look sincere and happy: Because your face is the star, the one thing that recruiters, prospects, etc. will actually connect to, make sure it’s doing what it needs to do. Smile, look friendly, outgoing, able to charm and impress and get to work when necessary. Ensure lighting isn’t casting unattractive shadows, and that the secret scowl you wear is tucked out of sight.
- Don’t selfie: The selfie offers a particular look, a kind of “I look really amazing; look at me looking at myself in my bathroom mirror” self-involvement that turns people off. Should you look good, confident, and capable in your LinkedIn profile pic? Absolutely? Should you look like you care more about your LinkedIn pic than you do about any job you might get? Probably not.
Managing professional impressions on LinkedIn isn’t hard, and, done well, it can lead to about 14x more profile engagement than otherwise. Just be sure that you’re approaching it honestly, sensibly, and in such a way that acknowledges you know LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a professional network.
Looking to learn more about building connections? Check out our blogs:
Why People Don’t Update Their LinkedIn Profiles
10 Transformative Career Apps
Should I Carry Business Cards and Other Networking Questions You’re Afraid to Ask
And once you make those connections, be sure to manage them with the CircleBack app for iOS or Android. CircleBack, a powerful, intelligent contact manager, ensures that your professional address book is always accurate and updated so that, when you need to make contact with a connection, you can.
Wow, you blamed the candidate? Okay, I see your side, but I see a bigger issue.
You were impressed with the candidate’s qualifications, but decided the candidate’s age was an issue for you. Did the job require a 30 something year old candidate? I doubt it! Sounds like a little age discrimination.
I’m a very talented and successful older worker who looked for a job for over a year and age was a major reason for my lengthy search.
This is a reason not to put too much information on LinkedIn. It is also a reason not to put too much focus on LinkedIn. I promise there are lots of scammers there.
Actually, we ended up hiring the person. But that’s not the point here. It threw up red flags because the person misrepresented themself, and it certainly made us wonder if anything else was being exaggerated.
i’m glad to hear you hired him! I’m sure he was the best candidate.
However, your article leads me to believe that if he had put a picture on LjnkedIn that showed him to be older, you probably would have not considered him much less gave him a serious interview or the opportunity to win the job all because of his age.
Remember, 30 something’s can greatly overstate their experience on LinkedIn. Unless you needed a 30 something year old rock band member, you were age discriminating and LinkedIn helps you.
I’m sorry you’ve understood it that way. I’ll have to go back and check my phrasing. All that was meant by it was that, because visual impressions make such an impact, it’s important to be honest.
We would have happily considered any candidate and would have been equally taken aback if we expected an older candidate and a young one showed up in our offices as well. It’s not a matter of age; it’s a matter of creating expectation through presentation (on LinkedIn) and delivering something different.
Unfortunately, the first thought in my mind was age discrimination. After I finished reading the article, I agree with your advice, but this is a sensitive topic. Especially in today’s aging workforce.
Mr. Duck, I do understand your point, many people grossly mis-represent themselves on LinkedIn and other social media and it makes hiring more complicated. I’m sure you never meant to discriminate against older candidates. I’m glad you hired the older gentlemen. I wish every employer looked compared their needs to each potential candidate’s qualifications and experience and did not discriminate on any basis, not just age. Unfortunately, LinkedIn aids employers and recruiters who want to discriminate. Both employers and LinkedIn members need to be careful with how they use the tool. Thanks for your article and your responses to my rants!