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So, I met my husband on the dating app, Plenty of Fish. Something about his smile was interesting and invited me to want to learn more about him. The few profile pictures he posted drew me to him more so than the messages I received by other suitors who used a profile placeholder image. We spoke for about two weeks and by the time we met in person, we both agreed we were grateful we looked better in person. He told me funny encounters in which many of the women he met didn’t look like their photos at all; I shared similar horror stories of men who posted outdated pictures of themselves.

Virtual interviewing has gone from being an option to a necessity since the pandemic, and in March 2020 alone, its usage went up 101%. Now more than ever employers are relying on social media to get to know potential candidates even before they speak with them. We all leave a digital footprint with every online interaction, and employers check as many digital outlets as possible to gain insight on whether you are who you say you are. Being that we live in “real time,” social media and virtual interviewing has sped up the process of interacting with potential hiring managers like never before.  It’s perplexing why candidates opt to use outdated photos of themselves on LinkedIn and other sites that require an image.

Personally, I tend to have photos in rotation. If I change the color of my hair or opt for a new hairstyle I feel it is important for candidates, clients, and potential partners to know who they are talking too. A selfie taken with my cellphone has served as professional pictures and look great. I have always encouraged candidates and recruiters to keep all of their profiles up to date for these compelling reasons:

  1. Be intriguing. A picture can say a thousand words and people like to know who they are interacting with. A great headshot says so many things. Fuzzy, oddly cropped photos and pictures taken of an old picture will not cut it in this day and age.
  2. No sunglasses. The goal of a professional or great headshot is that your eyes can be seen.
  3. No silhouettes.  I get that there are some people who do not want a presence on the internet but that is not the first thing a hiring manager will think. Instead, many feel you have something to hide. Also make sure you take a photo in good lighting; outdoors is preferred to dull indoor lighting. You can always crop the photo and blur the background if needed.
  4. Don’t forget to smile. Not many people can take a great photo without smiling. Smiles provide a level of confidence like nothing else. Even if you smile with your lips together, it is better than no smile at all.
  5. Watch your angles. Ladies, we all like those overhead selfie shots because we think the angle will make us look smaller. On many occasions, I have received images or videos from candidates that were so focused on their face that they forget to look at their clothing that may have revealed more than desired.
  6. Don’t be shy. We live in a time where even seniors our face-timing with each other so the excuses of being shy or you don’t like the way you look are no longer valid.
  7. Hiring managers are now younger. Let’s face it, more millennials are stepping into hiring manager roles, and they are highly connected to videos and imagery. A good picture that is interesting or shows your personality speaks volumes to managers in this age group.

I hope the tips above were useful and make a good case for wanting to be seen in living color than as a profile placeholder.

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