What your online profile says about you

Mar 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Services

Jeff Hough

By Jeff Hough

I know a lot about more about you than you think.  Our world is increasingly moving online and even though you may be resisting it, “Resistance is futile.” Ignore the online world at your own risk because your information is there and how you interact with it says a lot about you.

Having participated in several hiring processes and reviewing over 60 professional applications, I discovered a wide variety of job seeker approaches to using social media.  Many applicants I reviewed didn’t have a social media profile of any kind, not even the professional network, LinkedIn! As someone who spends a decent amount of time online, I struggled with the concept of not having a professional profile at all.

It is not uncommon for companies to Google job applicants to see what turns up.  While reviewing applicants I Googled them to see how the online world treated them and attempting to be fair I Googled myself to provide a baseline measurement.  Gratefully, my self-search came up pretty clean—at least through the first four pages of search results—then it was on to see how the applicants faired.

I was able to find information on the majority of the applicants’ relatively easily with nothing popping up that you wouldn’t want your mother to see.  Maybe it was the age group of the candidates, but the online activity for the majority was minimal with little participation in social networks.

After completing the Google search, I began focusing on the applicants’ participation in social media, especially LinkedIn.  I was disheartened by the lack of attention paid to such a crucial business tool.  While the majority of applicants had a profile, they were in various states of completeness or disrepair, which tells me a lot.

Best-Selling author Bernard Marr says there are six messages that your LinkedIn profile could be saying about you:

1)    No picture – may indicate a lack of confidence or that you don’t care.
2)    Logo as picture – maybe indicates that you lack confidence or that you don’t really have personality.
3)    No recommendations – could indicate that you may not be as good as you say you are.
4)    Incomplete profile – this just smacks of pure laziness.
5)    Not current – may indicate a lack of attention to detail or laziness.
6)    No contact details – may indicate that you don’t want to be bothered or that you have trust issues.

Photos are a big part of the online world and not having a quality profile photo is a big faux pas.  Many people mistake their LinkedIn profile photo for their Facebook profile photo and include something personal about themselves: a pet, a loved one, etc. While sharing information about your personality can be a good thing, your profile picture isn’t necessarily the place to do it.

Just like in real life, you have fewer than seven seconds for people to form an opinion of you. Your professional profile picture on LinkedIn is your representation to the professional community, having no photo can be worse than a bad photo.

Bad photos may consist of blurry photos of you in leisure activities or a shameless selfie shot in unflattering light.  Websites like photofeeler.com provide feedback on your proposed photo to make sure you are sending the right message.

I ran my LinkedIn profile picture through photofeeler’s rating process and through 10 reviews, I ranked slightly above average for my competency, almost likable and slightly below average for my ability to influence. I’m not sure how I feel about myself right now.

In the final analysis, your online profile matters. To create the best impression you should have a professional looking profile photo that shows you dressed appropriately relative to your profession, smiling and close enough that I can see who you are, but not your individual eyelashes.

Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, take a few minutes to Google yourself and see what comes up.  Look beyond the first page of the search results because that is where all the “good” stuff will come up.  Hopefully, your search will return positive information that makes you look like you are competent, likable and influential.

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

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