We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, but do we also realize it could mean a thousand dollars a week?
As C.G. Lynch, a writer for business leadership website CIO notes, the photo you use on various social networking sites “may be used by people whom you don’t know very well as they try to size you up – personally or professionally.”
Quite simply, he concludes, “it matters.”
While an appropriate profile photo may not necessarily guarantee or eliminate you from a particular job placement, it certainly helps a prospective employer get an idea of who you are. After all, you wouldn’t go into a business meeting with a bag over your head, would you?
As you set up profiles and post photos on various social networking sites, keep these points in mind:
1: DO post your photo where applicable.
Prospective employers will most likely want to see the face behind the name. Including an appropriate (more on that below) photo will add personality to your profile, and it will reinforce the idea that you are an individual, rather than an anonymous wall of type on a computer screen.
2: DO keep in mind the nature of each social networking site to which you belong, and adapt each profile photo to reflect this.
For example, a more formal, clean business-type photo is appropriate for a more professional website like LinkedIn, whereas on Facebook or Twitter it may seem forced, unnatural, and out-of-place. It is important to project a professional image as needed; however, being a business photo in a sea of business photos is just as bad as being a faceless résumé in a sea of faceless résumés.
3: DO appear clean and well-groomed.
You want to look your best, but naturally so. Wearing too much makeup or dramatically altering your photo digitally may read as being phony or superficial and could potentially do more harm than good. It may help to ask a friend to take a clean, simple, well-lit photograph of you, although now is not the time to show off your (or your friend’s) edgy art photography skills.
4: DO be consistent in your image, while still remembering point #2.
You are ultimately selling yourself as a brand and need to present a clear, honest depiction of yourself. Contradictions in image from site to site (or from internet to real-life) may confuse prospective employers and cause them to doubt your integrity.
5: DO be smart and exercise common sense and decorum.
Chances are, if the thought of showing your profile photo to your grandmother or your spiritual adviser doesn’t make you queasy, you are probably headed in the right direction.
With these five things in mind, you should be well on your way to a more successful, more cohesive, and most importantly – more desirable personal brand image.
Above all, regarding any part of your internet identity (be it your profile photo or your political views), remember to please post responsibly.
Gabrielle is a recent graduate from Syracuse University, where she studied fashion design and fashion communications. She is in the process of building a small fashion business over the internet and plans to return to Syracuse in 2010 to pursue her Master’s Degree in art journalism.