How often have you heard, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Of course it is sometimes true but how relevant is it when it comes to marketing yourself? There is a reason millions of dollars are spent on book covers, packaging and professional photography; it sells! “A picture is worth a thousand words” because we are so strongly influenced by what we see but we can be equally influenced by what we don’t see which is why products are not marketed without an image.
As entrepreneurs, professionals or consultants in career transition, you are the product! Your marketing collateral should consist of a professional resume, an established brand and a visible online presence. All online profiles include the option to upload a photo or logo and most professionals will not give it a thought but there are still those who, for some reason don’t like the idea of posting their “cover” picture citing, “it’s the principal that matters and how I look isn’t related to how I will perform”. Anytime anyone tries to hide something whether it is a graduation date, employment gaps or a missing photo the effect will be unanswered questions which will override the original intent, to create a positive impression with solid facts. It is human nature to think the worst and decision makers, (over 80% review online profiles) will not accept your decision to omit your photo as justifiable for any reason in this day and age. More likely they may be left with any or all of the following impressions:
- Didn’t take the time to complete their profile
- Didn’t invest in having a professional photo done
- Didn’t understand how to upload a photo
- Didn’t advance with the times, old school ideas
Unfortunately there is always the possibility that a decision maker will be biased and little can be done to avoid this. Your “cover” is your physical appearance but not unlike a book cover, you do have the option to present your appearance in a professional, stylish and confident look to garner a positive impression which is more important than the colour of your hair, unless it is bright fuchsia, in which case, it could generate a negative first impression as a personal bias or simply a distraction. Covering up tattoos and body piercings is just common sense as is professional and conservative attire. Resistance to change, the inability to be flexible or the arrogance of presenting your tattoo whether someone likes it or not are not positive attributes to a potential employer. Creating a positive impression for the majority of people should be a conscious goal if you are serious about a senior level career and do not want to limit your options.
Change is not easy for many people and most are wary about accepting new technologies and trends. Some will see a new trend or style and love it and others will hate it until it has gone out of style and then embrace it when they dislike the next emerging style. Remember how many people said they would never own a microwave or a computer or a cell phone? Remember when people retired from one job held for 30 or 40 years? Today we expect to have 8 to 10 jobs! Six years ago, Facebook didn’t exist and today there are 500 million users! Twitter currently has 100 million users and Linkedin is The Number #1 Professional Networking Site with 70 million users. Change happens and like it or not, social media is here to stay. If you are interested in building credibility you will need to accept the level of transparency expected which includes a professional photo.
Check out these The Top 10 Tips for Your Online Profile, #2. A professional photo.